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 Garcinia mangostana subsp. var.  Mangosteen
Habit: tree
Height: to
Width: to
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Lifespan: perennial
Origin: Indonesia
Features: evergreen
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Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: to
Sunset Zones:
Flower features:
[[]] > Garcinia mangostana var. ,

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The Purple Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana), colloquially known simply as "the mangosteen", is a tropical evergreen tree, believed to have originated in the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas of Indonesia. The tree grows from 7 to 25 m (20–80 ft) tall. The rind (exocarp) of the edible fruit is deep reddish purple when ripe. Botanically an aril, the fragrant edible flesh can be described as sweet and tangy, citrusy with peach flavor and texture.

The Purple Mangosteen belongs to the same genus as the other — less widely known — mangosteens, such as the Button Mangosteen (G. prainiana) or the Lemondrop Mangosteen (G. madruno).

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Mangosteen, Garcinia Mangoslana (which see), is a handsome fruit-tree 25 to 30 feet high, of compact growth, regular in outline, with dense, dark green foliage which reminds one slightly of the rubber tree. It grows slowly and comes into fruit late, not before eight or nine years of age. Its flowers are 1 ½ inches across with four rose-pink fleshy petals and a large superior ovary. In Ceylon the trees bloom twice, once in August, producing fruits which ripen in January, and again in January, producing fruits in July and August. In Trinidad the fruiting seasons are July and October. The January crop in Ceylon is a light one, however, not amounting to over 100 fruits to a tree, whereas the August crop amounts in good years to 500 or 600 fruits, according to Wright, of Mirigama, Ceylon. The fruits are borne from buds produced near the tips of short branches mainly on the outside of the tree, and are striking by reason of their persistent large leathery light green calyx-lobes.

This delicious fruit is about the size of a mandarin orange, round and slightly flattened at each end, with a smooth, thick rind, rich red-purple in color, with here and there a bright, hardened drop of the yellow juice which marks some injury to the rind when it was young. As these mangosteens are sold in the Dutch East Indies,—heaped up on fruit-baskets, or made into long regular punches with thin strips of braided bamboo,—they are as strikingly handsome as anything of the kind could well be, but it is only when the fruit is opened that its real beauty is seen. The rind is thick and tough and in order to get at the pulp inside, it requires a circular cut with a sharp knife to lift the top half off like a cap, exposing the white segments, five, six or seven in number, lying loose in the cup. The cut surface of the rind is of a most delicate pink color and is studded with small yellow points formed by the drops of exuding juice. As one lifts out of this cup, one by one, the delicate segments, which are the size and shape of those of a mandarin orange, the light pink sides of the cup and the veins of white and yellow embedded in it are visible. The separate segments are between snow-white and ivory in color and are covered with a delicate net- work of fibers, and the side of each segment where it presses against its neighbor is translucent and slightly tinged with pale green. The texture of the mangosteen pulp much resembles that of a well-ripened plum, only it is so delicate that it melts in the mouth like a bit of ice-cream. The flavor is quite indescribably delicious. There is nothing to mar the perfection of this fruit, unless it be that the juice from the rind forms an indelible stain on a white napkin. Even the seeds are partly or wholly lacking and when present, are very thin and small.

Notwithstanding the fact that it has for at least two generations been called the "queen of fruits" and that Queen Victoria offered a prize of ten pounds for the first fruits which should be brought to her from India, there appears to be nowhere in existence what would be called a large orchard of mangosteens. It is hard to understand why the culture of so delicious a fruit as the 'mangosteen should not have been better understood by horticulturists.

In the Dutch East Indies, Java and Sumatra in particular, it is planted by the natives in their kampongs as a dooryard tree. In Malacca and the Straits Settlements there are a few small orchard plantings owned chiefly by the Chinese. In Burliar Gardens in the Nilgiri Hills of Madras Presidency, British India, a few trees are growing. The native chiefs of the Sulu Archipelago have scattered plantings of mangosteen trees. A few small plantings have been made in Ceylon, notably a small orchard at Mirigama. Father D'Adran, a noted Bishop of Cochin-China, established an orchard of 300 to 400 trees at Lai Thiou not far from Saigon. Trees of it have grown and fruited in the Botanic Gardens of Jamaica, Trinidad, Dominica, and probably elsewhere in the West Indies, and single specimens have borne a few fruits on Kauai and Maui Islands of the Hawaiian group. The seeds from these successful trees have furnished hundreds of young plants for small plantations which will soon come into bearing.

The reason for this very inadequate distribution of so remarkable a domesticated fruit-tree seems to lie in the difficulty which the young plants seem to have in establishing themselves. If the seedlings are not shaded, the first pair of young leaves is generally injured and the plants stunted or even killed outright. It is thought that horticulturists do not yet understand the root-system of the magnosteen and that when it is understood, a vast extension of the culture of this fruit will take place. This may come about through the use of stocks which are less particular in their soil-requirements. Geo. Oliver's experiments have proved that the mangosteen can be successfully inarched upon a number of the related species of the same genus. On Garcinia xanthochymus, which is a much more vigorous tree and grows on many types of soil, and is apparently quite at home in Hawaii, Natal, Madeira, Cuba, and many other localities in the subtropics it seems to grow successfully. As 169 species of garcinias have already been described, the probability is great of finding a suitable stock for the mangosteen. The best orchards of mangosteen in Ceylon and Singapore have been established on soils characterized by a high clay content, combined with a large percentage of coarse material, with a very small amount of silt, and upon locations where the water-table comes to within 6 feet of the surface. The impression is current that the mangosteen requires a wet but well-drained soil and a very humid atmosphere. While the former statement appears to be true, the latter is not so, for the tree which has fruited on the Island of Kauai is in a dry but irrigated part of that island, with only 6 inches of rainfall, where it has to be irrigated twice a month. The diseases of the mangosteen are not yet known. It is likely to have its own specific diseases, and when transplanted to new environments, may be attacked by new parasites. Fruits are frequently found with drops of yellow gamboge inside which make them unpalatable, but whether this is really a disease or merely the result of external bruises, caused by the fruits being knocked about by heavy winds when nearly mature, will have to be determined by experiment.

Although the mangosteen is a very delicate fruit, it has an exceedingly thick tough rind, and on this account it is likely to be a good shipper. Fruits which were sent in cold storage to Washington from Trinidad were excellent when eaten twenty-one days later, even though they had then been out of cold storage over a week. The fact that when one of a shipment of fruits decays, its rind hardens instead of becoming soft, is an important point in its favor.

Just how much cold the mangosteen can stand has not yet been determined. Repeated attempts to grow it in Florida and California have failed, although, for that matter, many attempts in the tropics have been unsuccessful. The limited experience which horticulturists have had with it seems to indicate that it will not stand frost. It is apparently a strictly tropical tree, moisture-loving and more or less shade-tolerant when young, adapted to regions of heavy rainfall: Porto Rico and Panama are unquestionably excellent places in which to experiment with its culture.

When one considers that so far no selection of varieties of the mangosteen has been made, notwithstanding the fact that practically seedless fruits are of frequent occurrence, and further that the tree belongs to a large genus of fruit-bearing trees, at least fifteen of which are known to bear edible fruit, some of them as large as small melons, and that these are scattered in Australia, the Malay region, South China, Africa, Brazil, and Central America, some of them being able to withstand light frosts, it becomes evident that in the development and breeding of the mangosteen and in the discovery of a suitable stock for it, there lies a most promising field for horticultural research.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



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