Mangifera (PROSEA Fruits)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Mangifera L.

Protologue: Gen. Pl. ed. 5: 93 (1754).
Family: Anacardiaceae
Chromosome number: x= 20; for most species 2n= 40

Major species and synonyms

  • Mangifera griffithii Hook.f., Trans. Linn. Soc. 23: 168 (1860), synonyms: Mangifera microphylla Griffith ex Hook.f. (1876), Mangifera sclerophylla Hook.f. (1876), Mangifera beccarii Ridley (1933). see separate article.
  • Mangifera quadrifida Jack, in Roxb., Fl. Ind. ed. Wall. 2: 440 (1824), synonyms: Mangifera rigida Blume (1850), Mangifera spathulaefolia Blume (1850), Mangifera langong Miq. (1861), Mangifera maingayi Hook.f. (1876), Mangifera longipetiolata King (1896). see separate article.
  • Mangifera similis Blume, Mus. Bot. 1:200 (1850), synonym: Mangifera torquenda Kosterm. (1965).

The cultivated species on this list are described separately. The listed wild species are a selection based on available information and extent of distribution; they are presented below. Summarized information on the remaining wild species is given in the chapter on Minor edible fruits and nuts.

Vernacular names

M. griffithii :

  • Indonesia: rawah (West Kalimantan)
  • Malaysia: rawa (Peninsular Malaysia), asem raba (Sarawak), wahab (Sabah).

M. minor :

  • Indonesia: upusuplia (Timor), fo karuku (Sulawesi), koai (Irian Jaya)
  • Papua New Guinea: abudar (Onjob), mogari (Tapio)
  • Solomon Islands: asai, susai (Kwaraae), rereke.

M. monandra :

  • Philippines: pangi (Ilongo, Visayas), malapaho (Bikol), kalamansanai (Tagalog), paglumbayan (Ilokano).

M. quadrifida :

  • Brunei: rancha rancha
  • Indonesia: asam rawa, asem kumbang (Sumatra)
  • Malaysia: asam kumbang (Peninsular Malaysia)
  • Thailand: sommuang-khan (peninsula).

M. similis :

  • Indonesia: tajas, asem rawa (Sumatra), pipit (Kalimantan)
  • Malaysia: asam (Sabah).

Origin and geographic distribution

The genus Mangifera comprises about 40 species and is naturally distributed from India and Sri Lanka in the west through Indo-China as far north as Yunnan in the Chinese Himalayas and throughout Malesia to the Solomon Islands in the south-east. The highest species diversity is to be found in Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo.

  • M. griffithii originates from Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo. In Peninsular Malaysia and western Borneo it is also cultivated around villages.
  • M. minor is widely distributed from eastern Indonesia and the Philippines to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. It is sometimes cultivated near villages.
  • M. monandra is endemic to the Philippines.
  • M. quadrifida originates from Borneo, Sumatra, Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia; it is occasionally found in old orchards.
  • M. similis originates from Borneo. It is cultivated in Java.


About 26 species of Mangifera have edible fruits. They are eaten fresh or used to prepare jams, jellies and preserves. Unripe fruits can be used to make pickles, chutneys, vinegar, etc. and sometimes are sliced and sun-dried for grinding into powder or other preserves. The timber of several species is used in many ways, but is not durable; its standard trade name is "machang".

  • M. griffithii has pleasantly sweet fruit.
  • M. minor has edible fruit but with a strong astringent taste. The wood is intermediate hard and is used for light construction and furniture.
  • M. monandra fruit is eaten unripe, since upon ripening it becomes difficult to recover the little flesh there is; the timber - although of poor quality - is locally used in the Philippines.
  • M. quadrifida fruit has 1 cm thick, sweet-acid flesh and a stone with very coarse fibre.
  • M. similis has edible fruit with a sweet-acid taste.


The fruit of M. indica takes pride of place, partly because selection for superior quality has gone on for so long. However, this does not mean that the properties of fruit of other cultivated species are inherently inferior. In general the fruits of wild Mangifera species are small and of inferior quality compared with the cultivated species; in nearly all, the mesocarp (pulp) is thin and finely to coarsely fibrous. No particulars are known of the properties of wild species, e.g. edible portion of the fruit, composition, etc. The rind of the unripe fruit as well as some other parts of the trees may contain an irritating sap which may cause inflammation when touched. Some Mangifera species have fibres in the leaves.


  • Trees with thick trunk and massive dark green crown.
  • Leaves spirally arranged, simple, entire, glabrous, petioled.
  • Inflorescences paniculate, terminal and/or axillary, often crowded at the apex of twigs.
  • Flowers male or bisexual, on the same plant; calyx 4- or 5-lobed; petals 4 or 5, often with excrescences from glands thickened into ridges on the inner surface, usually free; disk usually extrastaminal, short-cupular, pulvinar or stipe-like, often lobed; stamens usually 5, rarely 10(-12), usually 1 or 2(-5) fertile, filaments free or connate at the base; ovary 1-celled, style excentric or lateral, stigma simple.
  • Fruit a drupe, resinous, mesocarp often fleshy and thick, especially in cultivated species, endocarp (stone) ligneous or fibrous.
  • Seed with testa free from endocarp and sometimes labyrinthine (following the lobes or folds of the cotyledons), sometimes polyembryonic.

M. griffithii :

  • Tree, up to 30 m tall, trunk 100 cm diameter.
  • Leaves elliptic to obovate-oblong, 5-23 cm × 2-9 cm, coriaceous; petiole 0.5-6 cm.
  • Panicles 10-24 cm long; flowers cream-white, calyx 4(-5)-lobed, petals 4(-5), stamens 4(-5), 1 fertile.
  • Fruit broadly ellipsoid to obovoid, 2.5-3.5 cm × 1.5-2.5 cm, yellow to rose-red, turning blackish; flesh pale orange-yellow, juicy, fibrous.

M. minor :

  • Tree, up to 32 m tall, trunk 30-120 cm diameter, sometimes with buttresses.
  • Leaves elliptic to lanceolate, 12-19 cm × 3-6 cm, chartaceous; petiole 1-3 cm.
  • Panicles up to 30 cm long; flowers yellowish, fragrant, calyx 5-lobed, petals 5, stamens 5, 1 fertile.
  • Fruit obliquely oblongoid, 5-10 cm × 4-7 cm; flesh thin, fibrous.

M. monandra :

  • Tree 15 m tall, wholly glabrous.
  • Leaves elliptic to obovate-lanceolate, 8-19 cm × 2.5-8 cm, thinly coriaceous, acute or shortly acuminate, base narrow to cuneate; petiole 1-5 cm long, rugose.
  • Panicles 10-20 cm long, laxly-flowered, sessile with 3-4 fascicled branches; flowers white, calyx 4-lobed, lobes ovate to oblong, acute, with hyaline margin, petals 4, stamens 4, one fertile.
  • Fruit ellipsoid, subcompressed, inequilateral, 3.5 cm × 2 cm × 1.5 cm, the pulp very thin.

M. quadrifida :

  • Tree, 10-35 m tall, trunk 25-90 cm diameter, sometimes with buttresses.
  • Leaves elliptic to ovate-oblong or oblanceolate, 6-30 cm × 3-9 cm, coriaceous; petiole 1-7(-12) cm.
  • Panicles up to 25 cm long; flowers white to greenish-white; calyx 4-lobed, petals 4, stamens 4, 1 fertile.
  • Fruit broadly ellipsoid, 8-10 cm × 5-7 cm, dark purple; flesh yellow, fibrous.

M. similis:

  • Tree, up to 32 m tall, trunk 50-100 cm diameter.
  • Leaves elliptic-oblong to obovate-oblong, 7-21 cm × 3-9 cm, coriaceous, veins distinct beneath, obscure above, petiole 1-4(-8) cm.
  • Panicles terminal, 8-28 cm long; flowers greenish-white, sweetly fragrant; calyx 4-lobed, petals 4, stamens 4, 1 fertile.
  • Fruit a smooth globose drupe, 10 cm diameter, yellow-green, flesh yellowish.
  • Seed not labyrinthine, biconvex, 4 cm thick.

Other botanical information

The genus Mangifera is subdivided into two sections:

  • section Mangifera : Disk short-cupular, rarely pulvinate and concave above, usually 4- or 5-lobed, papillose, completely or partly surrounding the ovary. Stamens with filaments free. To this section belong M. altissima, M. griffithii, M. indica, M. laurina, M. minor, M. monandra, M. pentandra, M. quadrifida and M. similis.
  • section Limus March.: Disk pulvinate, rarely cylindric and torus-like, often reduced and stipe-like at the base of ovary in bisexual flowers, usually not lobed, not papillose, rarely obsolete in the male flowers. Stamens with filaments often connate at the base or sometimes free. To this section belong M. caesia, M. foetida, M. kemanga, M. odorata and M. pajang.


Mangifera species thrive in the humid tropics, the major exception being mango which extends to the subtropics and requires a prominent cool and/or dry season to flower and fruit well. In the humid tropics the mango gives way to the other species. Their natural habitat is the primary rain forest in tropical lowlands, chiefly below 600 m altitude; some species are occasionally found in secondary forest.

  • M. griffithii grows scattered in lowland forests up to 360 m altitude.
  • M. minor grows in lowland primary and secondary forest up to 750 m altitude.
  • M. monandra is purely a species of lowland primary forest.
  • M. quadrifida grows in lowland forest on inundated land or along riversides, rarely on limestone ridges, up to 900 m altitude.
  • M. similis grows in lowland forest up to 150 m altitude.

Genetic resources and breeding

M. indica cultivar collections are present in many countries where the mango is grown commercially. Germplasm collections including other Mangifera species are present in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and India. All wild Mangifera species are potentially useful for breeding purposes. Many wild species are insufficiently known; the forests in which they naturally occur should be conserved.


With South-East Asia as the natural area of distribution of the genus Mangifera, the region holds a key position in the development of Mangifera cultivation and breeding. Conservation and investigation of natural populations is urgently needed.


  • Bompard, J.M. & Kostermans, A.J.G.H., 1986. Wild Mangifera species in Kalimantan, Indonesia. In: Mehra, K.L. & Sastrapradja, S. (Editors): Proceedings of the International Symposium on Plant Genetic Resources. Lembaga Biologi Nasional - LIPI, Bogor. pp. 172-173.
  • Ding Hou, 1978. Anacardiaceae. Mangifera. In: van Steenis, C.G.G.J. (Editor): Flora Malesiana. Series 1. Vol. 8. pp. 423-440.
  • Kochummen, K.M., 1983. Notes on the systematy of Malayan Phanerogams XXX. Anacardiaceae. Gardens Bulletin Singapore 36(2): 187-196.
  • Kostermans, A.J.G.H., 1965. New and critical Malesian plants, VII. Reinwardtia 7(1): 19-22.
  • Mukherjee, S.K., 1985. Systematic and ecogeographic studies on crop genepools 1. Mangifera L. IBPGR, Rome. 86 pp.
  • Mukerji, S.K., 1949. A monograph on the genus Mangifera. Lloydia 12: 73-136.
  • Tardieu-Blot, 1962. Anacardiaceae. Mangifera. In: Flore du Cambodge, du Laos et du Vietnam. Vol. 2. pp. 83-99.


  • W.Sm. Gruèzo