Nov. 18, 2019
 

 

Origins and Distribution

Native to southern Asia, especially eastern India, Burma, and the Andaman Islands, the mango has been cultivated, praised and even revered in its homeland since Ancient times. Buddhist monks are believed to have taken the mango on voyages to Malaya and eastern Asia in the 4th and 5th Centuries B.C. The Persians are said to have carried it to East Africa about the 10th Century A.D. It was commonly grown in the East Indies before the earliest visits of the Portuguese who apparently introduced it to West Africa early in the 16th Century and also into Brazil. After becoming established in Brazil, the mango was carried to the West Indies, being first planted in Barbados about 1742 and later in the Dominican Republic. It reached Jamaica about 1782 and, early in the 19th Century, reached Mexico from the Philippines and the West Indies.

Enthusiastic introduction of other varieties by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Plant Industry, by nurserymen, and other individuals followed, and the mango grew steadily in popularity and importance. The Reasoner Brothers Nursery, on the west coast, imported many mango varieties and was largely responsible for the ultimate establishment of the mango in that area, together with a Mr. J.W. Barney of Palma Sola who had a large collection of varieties and had worked out a feasible technique of propagation which he called "slot grafting".

Altogether, the U.S. Department of Agriculture made 528 introductions from India, the Philippines, the West Indies and other sources from 1899 to 1937. Selection, naming and propagation of new varieties by government agencies and individual growers has been going on ever since. The Mango Form was created in 1938 through the joint efforts of the Broward County Home Demonstration Office of the University of Florida's Cooperative Extension Service and the Fort Lauderdale Garden Club, with encouragement and direction from the University of Florida's Subtropical Experiment Station (now the Agricultural Research and Education Center) in Homestead, and Mrs. William J. Krome, a pioneer tropical fruit grower. Meetings were held annually, whenever possible, for the exhibiting and judging of promising seedlings, and exchanging and publication of descriptions and cultural information.

Meanwhile, a reverse flow of varieties was going on. Improved mangos developed in Florida have been of great value in upgrading the mango industry in tropical America and elsewhere.

 

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