Mango brings to mind a mixed feeling of sweet and sour, of a fruit found in hundreds of varieties, of different colour combinations of yellow, red, pink and green. Its size and shape varies with the variety of different tastes. Mango is a fruit which both rich and poor can afford, the only difference could be of the costly or common varieties.
A mango tree with unripe fruits
Mango belongs to the genus Mangifera and family Anacardiaceae. A fruit primarily belonging to Indian subcontinent it has spread to any part of the world which has warm and humid tropical subtropical climate. The Indian species Mangifera indica has hundreds of varieties or cultivars of different attributes.
The concern here is not of mango as a fruit alone. Visit a mango tree and you could find an awful variety of tiny insects on it, some good for the tree, and some having the distinction of being a pest. The mango farmers are scared of those pests. Some common ones are red ants moving forward and backward on tree trunk, branches and leaves. They even join leaves and make their nests. They are alert and fearsome. If the crop is infested by pests the crop yield can be reduced, and incur losses to the orchard owner.
Mango is an example of nature's ability to evolve and develop diverse life forms, the biodiversity for our benefit, due to its existence in the forms of different cultivars. The fruit is also an example of evolutionary anachronism because the fruit possibly coevolved with the now extinct megafauna of Pleistocene age because the large animals of that time could swallow the fruit and help in its dispersal, similar to Avacado.
True, a mango tree is a world of life forms thriving around it. There are some 492 species on insects, 17 species of mites, 26 species of nematodes which are reported globally to infest mango trees, flower, fruits, and roots. Out of those awesome numbers some 45 per cent are reported to be found in India. Besides mango trees are abode to birds, bats, wasps, bees, ants. Near the tree roots, in moist soil one can locate slugs, tiny mollusks, earthworms, centipedes. Some flies and bees are important to the mango crop as they are the main pollinators. Melipona Sp. and Trigona Sp. are main pollinators of the mango flowers.
The dreaded pests of mango are: leaf webber (Orthaga euadrusalis), mango hopper (Idioscopus clypealis, Idioscopus nitidulus, Amritodus atkinsoni), mango mealy bug (Drosicha mangiferae), fruitfly (Daccus dorsalis, D. zonalus, D. correctus) which affect mature fruits, the stem borer (Apsylla cistellata), and shoot gall psylla (Apsylla cistellata).
A species of bird, the Asian Koel (Eudynamis scolopaceus) is almost synonymous with the mango season in northern India. Its breeding season coinciding with mango season, repeated male-bird song of Koo.Ooo and the females shrill Kik-Kik-Kik are reminders to the arrival of mango season.
Some 25 kilometers from Lucknow, the capital of India's most populous state, the Uttar pradesh, there is an Institute at Rehman Kheda, which had its beginning in 1972, as a mango research station, but now stands as a tall institution dedicated to research on subtropical fruits like mango, guavas, papaya, litchi, Aonla, Bael, Jamun. Other fruits are being added to the list for further research and their economic utilization. The Central Institute of Tropical Horticulture is now a pioneering institute for mango research and has developed several better varieties of mangoes.
Mango is a nutritious fruit full with vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, copper, provitamin A carotenoids, prebiotic dietary fiber, amino acids, omega-3 and-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. The mango triterpene lupeol is known to be effective in controlling skin and prostate cancers !