Mangos in Mississippi

Sorry if I got your hopes up but there are no mango trees grown outdoors in Mississippi.  Why?  Our climate is certainly hot enough in the summer, but summer is not the problem.   Even though our winters are what I would call “mild”, they are not mild enough.  But before I explain why, let’s take a look at the mango in more detail.

The scientific name for mango is Mangifera indica, thus one would believe they originated in India or the surrounding countries.  Mangos are in the Anacardiaceae family, which also includes cashews and…..poison ivy among others.  Thus some folks may have a negative skin reaction to unwashed mango fruit.  When I lived in Senegal one time I took a mango from a tree, skinned it with my teeth and took a bite.  It was juicy and luscious, mindblowing.  The fruit right off the tree is on par or exceeds that of a tree-ripened peach.  However, a few minutes later I noticed a rash around my mouth.  Now, I should have known better as I am highly allergic to the urushiol (the allergenic oleoresin in poison ivy), but it did serve as a good reminder.  Other folks in Senegal would eat the cashew apple, but because I knew my potential reaction to things in that family I chose not to eat any.  But I digress…

Mango trees grow in Florida, but only in South Florida.  There, the tree blooms from December to April — one reason it would not be good in Mississippi.  The tree itself is adapted to tropical and subtropical climates that do not experience freezing temperatures.  As a whole, the species is not tolerant of cold.  A mature tree can withstand some minor cold (~25 F) for a short period, but even at that temperature will sustain minor damage to leaves and branches.  Young trees can be killed at temperatures just below freezing.  Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that one planted a mango tree on the MS Gulf Coast and it survived.  Even it that happened, it would be extremely unlikely to obtain fruit because flowers and fruit can be killed at just 40 F — not an uncommon temperature during the winter.

This post stemmed from some search terms I have seen recently that lead folks to this blog.  Hopefully they will come back and read more on it now that I actually have something about the topic.  The University of Florida has a good fact sheet on mango trees in the home landscape if you would like to read more.  Mangos are an extremely good and popular fruit.  They have many vitamins and nutrients, especially vitamins C and A.  So, although you can’t grow your own, you should buy them — they are delicious!

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2 responses

  1. Appreciate your article as my wife and I are retiring soon and moving to Mississippi. She’s Filipina and I’ve always had a “green thumb”, so we started seedlings 2 years ago and planned to transport from Maryland to Mississippi and grow on 2 acres of land. The trees have done well so far, but the first winter of keeping indoors was quite a task. I guess we could always continue growing seedlings and try a on-line order business.

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