According to the History of the Royal Society of Arts of London, the first mango ever brought into the West Indies came from Brazil and was called the Guinea, and it is highly probable that this Oriental fruit was taken by the Portuguese missionaries to Brazil sometime in the 17th century.
Between 1898 and 1913 we introduced from India selected lists of their best mangos, and in 1912 Simmonds planted out a little variety orchard in which 80 varieties were grown. The behavior of these was a matter of fascinating interest to us all, for some fruited in the course of a few years and some refused absolutely even to produce a single bloom. These stood as magnificent foliage specimens for twenty-five years and figure in my travel reports of the time as "mules."
What became of all these varieties of mangos? The answer is that they were distributed rather widely through the region and have met a varying fate, just as do most varieties of fruit. Few of the 850 varieties of pear, for example, that were listed by T.W. Field in 1858, could now, I suppose, be found anywhere in the world. It is the fate of varieties to come and go. I could name some introduced mangos, though, which still form a part of our collections in South Florida. There are the Gordon, Julie, Sandersha, Saigon, Cambodiana, Itamaraca, Bennett Alphonse, Pakria, Ameeri, Amini, Lamba Bhadra, Faizan, Rajpuri, Gela, Fajiri Long, Kavas ji Patel, and the gorgeous Borsha, and a good many others, too.
But the native born varieties such as the Haden and Cecil and Brooks have proven in the main more productive, and certainly the Haden is much the most widely cultivated. It is, perhaps, not too much to expect that out of the hybridization which is going on between these various fiberless East Indian sorts will come the Florida mangos of the future.
The romantic story of the Mulgoba mango I have told so often that I shall only allude to it now. Only yesterday I sat on the porch and chatted with Mrs. Haden, to whose husband and to her should go the honor of having raised as a seedling of the Mulgoba mango the famous Haden that is making its way in the great markets of this country and converting the skeptical everywhere to the fact that the mango can be eaten with a spoon, and deserves to rank as one of the most showy as well as most delicious fruits of the entire world.
The Mulgoba mango was introduced by the Division of Pomology of the Federal Department of Agriculture in 1889. Mr. Van Deman was then its chief. My old teacher of horticulture, Prof. Elbridge Gale, who had migrated to Lake Worth in the 80's, was the only man to save the tree, which was sent to him by Van Deman, nursing it through two severe freezes at his home at Mangonia. The Mulgoba is still in our collections today, but has refused to bear regularly and is fast disappearing, although its quality entitled it to rank as one of the very best varieties. It is as the mother of the Haden that it will go down into history, for it is from one of the few fruits that Prof. Gale sold to Captain Haden in 1897 that the Haden came. The Cecil is a perfectly delicious sort which found its way into Florida through Cuba. It originated from one of the seeds of 200 fruits of the Philippine mango (a long, golden yellow type) brought in by S. A. Belcher of Miami in 1902 and planted on the place of Cecil Hickson in what is now Coral Gables.