Mangifera indica is a species of mango in the Anacardiaceae family. It is found in the wild in India and cultivated varieties have been introduced to other warm regions of the world. It is the largest fruit-tree in the world, capable of a height of one-hundred feet and an average circumference of twelve to fourteen feet, sometimes reaching twenty. The species appears to have been domesticated in India at around 2000 BC. The species was brought to East Asia around 400-500 BCE from India; next, in the 15th century to the Philippines; and then, in the 16th century to Africa and Brazil by the Portuguese. The species was described for science by Linnaeus in 1753.
Mango is the national fruit of India, Pakistan and the Philippines. It finds mention in the songs of 4th century CE Sanskrit poet Kalidasa. Prior to that, it is believed to have been tasted by Alexander (3rd century BCE) and Chinese pilgrim Hieun Tsang (7th century CE). Later in 16th century Mughal Emperor, Akbar planted 100,000 mango trees in Darbhanga, Bihar at a place now known as Lakhi Bagh.
Mangiferin (a pharmacologically active flavonoid, a natural xanthone C-glycoside) is extracted from Mango at high concentrations from the young leaves (172 g/kg), bark (107 g/kg), and from old leaves (94 g/kg). Allergenic urushiols are present in the fruit peel and can trigger contact dermatitis in sensitised individuals. This reaction is more likely to occur in people who have been exposed to other plants from the Anacardiaceae family, such as poison oak and poison ivy, which are widespread in the United States.
In ayurveda, it is used in a Rasayana formula (q.v.), clearing digestion and acidity due to pitta (heat), sometimes with other mild sours and shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) and guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia). In this oriental system of traditional medicines, varied medicinal properties are attributed to different parts of the mango tree, both as food and medicine. It is anti-diuretic, anti-diarrheal, anti-emetic and cardiac herb.
The tree is more known for its fruit rather than for its lumber. However, mango trees can be converted to lumber once their fruit bearing lifespan has finished. The wood is susceptible to damage from fungi and insects. The wood is used for musical instruments such as ukeleles, plywood and low-cost furniture. The wood is also known to produce phenolic substances that can cause contact dermatitis.
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- Urushiol CASRN: 53237-59-5 TOXNET (Toxicology Data Network) NLM (NIH). Retrieved 22 January 2014.
- National R&D Facility For Rasayana
- "Mango". The Wood Database. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
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- Crop of the Day: Mango, Mangifera indica has a list of helpful resources about this species.