Living with Nature and Trees"

Author: C S Vincent

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Hello friends! Shall we resume our discussion on nature and trees? As we concluded in our last session, let us take up some particular trees, in this and future sessions. What shall we take today.... The Mango tree? I am sure it will make a good beginning. This species has a Hindu religious background also. That is why mango leaves are tied above the door during poojas /ceremonies. While all of us have seen and eaten mangoes raw, fruit cooked or pickled) some may not have seen a mango. No matter. Can any one of you tell me how many varieties of mango exist? Very many? Yes, a good guess. If I give the answer it may be a shock. There are almost a thousand varieties, but in different countries as per the recording of Mr. Pippa Mukherjee in his book 'Trees of India.' In our country we see only about a dozen varieties like the alphonso, malgoa neelam, bangalura, apoos, rumani etc.

Coming to the nutrition side we may come across some people saying/ believing that mango is unhealthy or 'heaty'. This is very untrue. Actually mangoes give us vitamins. Raw mangoes contain Vit C and the ripe fruit is rich in caratin. Mango pickles are in no way lagging behind since they help us eat our food with relish. One more thing can be said in favor of the mango i.e. every part of the tree has medicinal value. A popular home remedy for stomach disorders is a stew made with dry mango seeds. The vitamins contained in the product of the tree give us good health. Even the gum that comes out of the bark is used in some medicines. It is said that the mere chewing of the mango leaf will strength the teeth/gums. Even the bark of the root of the tree is used in the processing of some medicines.

The timber of the mango tree has also its own importance. It is used in making furniture. The seed is used in shipbuilding also.

Mango fruit is also an Export item. Phillipines produces mangoes in abundance and exports about 6000 tonnes/annually to countries like Living with Nature and Trees Canada, Japan, Hong-Kong etc. and earns foreign exchange. Even though India produces 62% of the world production our exports are not appreciable. This export avenue should be taken advantage since our production of mango exceeds tea which is only 50% and we export it.

Mango trees are huge and so don't t in homes. To remedy the above drawback our scientists have developed some strains by grafting. Such trees are small and can be grown in the backyards. A research institute in Paiyur in Dharmapuri district is constantly working on this project. It was reported in the media that a farmer in U.P. is harvesting about 30 varieties of mangoes from a single tree by grafting. Perhaps he has entered the Guiness book of records!

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