Mango: A Feature Tree of Beauty and Flavor

The mango is a tropical tree that flowers according to the seasons where it is planted. It is an evergreen with broad glossy leaves that make beautiful shade. During blossom season, its white, waxy blooms attract a variety of alternative pollinators. Then, around 170 days after blooming, they produce the yellow fruits that have just a little blush of added color.

If you live in a tropical or subtropical area, Mangoes are amazingly easy to grow. They can be the ‘plant it and forget it’ tree in your backyard garden area. They require very little pruning, although they might require some cleanup on the lawn area beneath the tree.

Autumn is the best time to plant a mango tree. The cooler weather and increased rainfall will help the baby tree get started. Plant in a fertile, well-drained location. Mango trees like quite a bit of water, but like most trees, they are not fond of wet feet. If your area is prone to frost, you might want to grow a dwarf tree in a container as freezing temperatures can kill mango trees.

In locations where mango trees can be grown out-of-doors, they make an amazing shade tree. They should have any dead branches trimmed away, but do not require a great deal of added pruning. They will tolerate it well, however, should you wish to use pruning as a means for controlling size. The best time to prune is shortly after fruiting season is over.

There is something truly delightful about trimming the orange colored mango flesh away from the flat, obolid pit, and either eating it as a stand-alone natural desert or adding it to a recipe, then planting the seed. If you want to have a tree that will bear fruit quickly, purchasing one from a nursery is a more reliable choice. Nursery stock is often grafted onto a reliable base. Since the grafted twigs are frequently the trimmings from a mature tree, you will have fruit much more quickly in that way.

While the mango tree is a truly magnificent plant, the mango is definitely a fruit worth waiting for, but equally worth hurrying the result a little bit, as well. Mango fruit has a unique flavor. It bears a small resemblance to a perfectly ripe sweet peach, and a slight nod toward a nectarine, with perhaps a pinch of banana or pawpaw. The mango is smoother, sweeter than all of them. It takes real skill to peel and remove the pit without becoming a dripping mess of sweet juice. But it is so very much worth it.

Mango has a sufficiently neutral flavor that it can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. It can be the crowning glory of a sweet fruit salad that includes strawberries and bananas. Or it can be part of a savory, spicy salsa recipe for fish tacos or crispy corn chips. But it can also be enjoyed on its own or as part of a smoothie or even as the fruit flavoring for a sherbet or ice cream.

Although mangoes have an extremely short shelf life. Dried, however, they keep very well. They can become part of a trail mix, baked into cookies, or even blended into smoothies. Drying makes it easy to enjoy the unique flavor of mango in other seasons.

Imagine just for a minute sitting under a tree that has big, glossy leaves enjoying a creamy dish of mango sherbet. Or, at a different season, sitting beneath that same tree as it is covered with white blossoms, enjoying pieces of dried mango with a cool limeade at your elbow. Good shade, a tasty snack, a refreshing drink, resting from your labors at making a garden.

All you need to make either of these pictures perfect is a good book, perhaps about gardening with trees. Or perhaps just a frivolous work of fiction, a history, or a book of philosophy.  It is said that when you plant a tree, you plant something not only for yourself, but for the future. For your own future, for that of your children, perhaps even for the whole world.

Perhaps it is a small thing to plant a tree. But if one person plants a mango, another plants a lime, and still another plants a grand bottle tree, then soon there is a landscape of beautiful trees that are taking in carbon dioxide and breathing out oxygen, in perfect symbiosis. Can there possibly be anything better?



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