In the food world, we’re crazy about things that taste good, but at the same time do us harm. However, mangos are an exception to that rule, because they are not only delicious, but also beneficial to health. Significant amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin C, copper, iron, folate, potassium and fiber are produced in the fruit, and there is evidence that mangos contain multiple antioxidants that protect against colon, breast, leukemia and prostate cancers. Eating mangos is also reputed to cleanse the skin, boost digestion, enhance concentration and memory, and, ahem, increase virility.
With so many attributes, the next step is to determine which mango cultivars might best suit your needs. Here are some thumbnail descriptions of the trees carried by Richard Lyons’ Nursery:
Alphonso This highly-aromatic and intensely sweet mango features a smooth, fiberless texture and is ranked among the best Indian dessert mangos. It can be eaten out of hand. Unlike many Indian cultivars, Alphonso can handle a rainy, humid climate like ours. Ripening runs from late June into July, and mature fruit weighs in at 8-12 oz.
Baptiste This cultivar is a selection from Haiti, where it is grown commercially. Blessed with minimal fiber, it has a sweet, mild flavor. Because the firm fruit keeps its shape when cut up, it is popular both for cooking and in fruit salads. Old trees of this cultivar in India are reputed to be very heavy bearers. The fruit weighs 8-16 oz.
Beverly Ripening in the July-August period, this Florida-bred mango is fiberless, firm and aromatic. The bland color of the flesh is outweighed by its great taste; Beverly was a curator’s choice at the Fairchild Mango Festival for two straight years. The tree’s spreading growth habit makes it easy to keep under 20 ft. Mature fruit weighs in from 16-48 oz.
Bombay A cultivar derived in Jamaica from an Indian mango, Bombay is famed for its ability to be eaten out of hand, so easy is it to separate the flesh from the seed. The deep orange fruit is fiberless, rich and spicy, key traits for a great dessert mango. The tree has a tall, open growth habit. Fruit ripens from June into July and weighs in at 12-14 oz.
Carrie This Florida cultivar boasts a vigorous, but compact growth habit that makes it desirable for smaller yards. It is characterized by having wider leaves than most other cultivars. Carrie has good disease resistance and is not otherwise demanding. The fiberless fruit has excellent flavor and a soft texture. It ripens from June into July and usually weighs under 16 oz.
Cogshall If you are a condo dweller, this Florida-bred cultivar may be just the thing for you. Whether container-grown on a balcony or planted in the ground, it can be kept small and still produce a substantial crop. The skin is attractive, and the fruit is aromatic, soft, fiberless, and spicy. Ripening occurs steadily from mid-June though July, and fruits weigh about 16 oz. apiece.
East Indian Deep orange flesh characterizes this juicy cultivar, which has been popular in the markets of Jamaica and other Caribbean islands for a long time. In addition to a spicy, aromatic, rich flavor, it also furnishes hints of coconut; not surprisingly, it has become a much-favored juice mango despite the presence of some fiber. Fruit ripens in the 12-20 oz. range.