Distantly related to the cashew and pistachio, mangoes originated in southern Asia, especially Burma and eastern India, then spreading to Malaya, eastern Asia and eastern Africa. Mangoes first arrived in Santa Barbara, California in 1880. Two races of mangoes exist, from India and from South East Asia and the Philippines. The Indian mango is intolerant of humidity and bears monoembryonic fruit of high color and regular form. The Filipino Mango tolerates humidity reasonably well and bears pale green, elongated-kidney-shaped polyembryonic fruit. Filipino mangoes grow best in California, and are the most common in produce aisles of the USA.
Mangoes have a long, stringlike stem. Two or more fruits can grow from a stem. Two to nine inches long and sometimes kidney shaped, ovate or (rarely) round, they range in size from 8 to 24 ounces. The skin is leathery, waxy, and smooth. The skin turns entirely pale green or yellow marked with red, depending on the particular variety when ripe. Inedible, the skin contains a sap that is irritating to some people. The quality of the fruit depends on the scarcity of fiber and lack of turpentine taste. (Mmmm. . . turpentine)
The flesh of a mango is peachlike and juicy, with fibers radiating from the husk of the single large kidney-shaped seed. Fibers are more pronounced in fruits grown with hard water and chemical fertilizers. The flavor is pleasant and rich, high in sugars and acid.