First Trees donated to USDA in late 1800s by Government of India.
Origin: The mango is native to southern Asia, especially Burma and eastern India. It spread early on to Malaya, eastern Asia and eastern Africa.
Mangos were introduced to California (Santa Barbara) in 1880.
Forms: The mango exists in two races, one from India and the other from the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
The Indian race is intolerant of humidity, has flushes of bright red new growth that are subject to mildew, and bears monoembryonic fruit of high color and regular form.
The Philippine race tolerates excess moisture, has pale green or red new growth and resists mildew. Its polyembryonic fruit is pale green and elongated kidney-shaped.
Philippines types from Mexico have proven to be the hardiest mangos in California.
Origin Vista, Calif., Paul Thomson, 1920s. Indian type. Tree upright, hardy, vigorous. Monoembryonic. Blooms early. Produces small to medium (8-12 oz.), almost fiberless fruit, green with red blush. Resists mildew, subject to soft nose. Midseason (Nov-Dec). For foothills.
Several local sources credit Thomson with bringing mangoes to the attention of North County growers in 1963. Thomson's legendary Edgehill Grove in Vista contained several mango trees when he bought it several decades ago.
"The previous owner had mango trees of his own, probably planted at the turn of the century. This was proof positive that mangoes would grow in the area," said Thomson, a founder of the California Rare Fruit Growers Inc. "At that time, I was in the nursery business. I brought in every mango variety I could lay my hands on from the tropics and from everywhere else."
He increased his mango tree collection to 70 varieties. "They estimate there are over 1,000 varieties of mangoes in India alone," Thomson said. "I would think there are more mangoes eaten around the world than apples."
From a 1992 article published in the Los Angeles Times.
Adaptation: Mangos basically require a frost-free climate. Flowers and small fruit can be killed if temperatures drop below 40° F, even for a short period. Young trees may be seriously damaged if the temperature drops below 30° F, but mature trees may withstand very short periods of temperatures as low as 25° F.
The mango must have warm, dry weather to set fruit. In southern California the best locations are in the foothills, away from immediate marine influence. It is worth a trial in the warmest cove locations in the California Central Valley, but is more speculative in the coastal counties north of Santa Barbara, where only the most cold adapted varieties are likely to succeed.
Mangos luxuriate in summer heat and resent cool summer fog. Wet, humid weather favors anthracnose and poor fruit set. Dwarf cultivars are suitable for culture in large containers or in a greenhouse.
A special Thank you to California Rare Fruit Growers for this information.