|Native to southern Asia, especially eastern India, Burma, and the Andaman
Islands, the mango has been cultivated, praised and even revered in its homeland
since Ancient times. Buddhist monks are believed to have taken the mango on
voyages to Malaya and eastern Asia in the 4th and 5th Centuries B.C. The
Persians are said to have carried it to East Africa about the 10th Century A.D.
It was commonly grown in the East Indies before the earliest visits of the
Portuguese who apparently introduced it to West Africa early in the 16th Century
and also into Brazil. After becoming established in Brazil, the mango was
carried to the West Indies, being first planted in Barbados about 1742 and later
in the Dominican Republic. It reached Jamaica about 1782 and, early in the 19th
Century, reached Mexico from the Philippines and the West Indies.
In 1833, Dr. Henry Perrine shipped seedling mango plants from Yucatan to Cape
Sable at the southern tip of mainland Florida but these died after he was killed
by Indians. Seeds were imported into Miami from the West Indies by a Dr.
Fletcher in 1862 or 1863. From these, two trees grew to large size and one was
still fruiting in 1910 and is believed to have been the parent of the 'No. 11'
which was commonly planted for many years thereafter. In 1868 or 1869, seeds
were planted south of Coconut Grove and the resultant trees prospered at least
until 1909, producing the so-called 'Peach' or 'Turpentine' mango which became
fairly common. In 1872, a seedling of 'No. 11' from Cuba was planted in
Bradenton. In 1877 and 1879, W.P. Neeld made successful plantings on the west
coast but these and most others north of Ft. Myers were killed in the January
freeze of 1886.
In 1885, seeds of the excellent 'Bombay' mango of India were brought from Key
West to Miami and resulted in two trees which flourished until 1909. Plants of
grafted varieties were brought in from India by a west coast resident, Rev. D.G.
Watt, in 1885 but only two survived the trip and they were soon frozen in a cold
spell. Another unsuccessful importation of inarched trees from Calcutta was made
in 1888. Of six grafted trees that arrived from Bombay in 1889, through the
efforts of the United States Department of Agriculture, only one lived to fruit
nine years later. The tree shipped is believed to have been a 'Mulgoa'
(erroneously labeled 'Mulgoba', a name unknown in India except as originating in
Florida). However, the fruit produced did not correspond to 'Mulgoa'
descriptions. It was beautiful, crimson-blushed, just under 1 lb (454 g) with
golden-yellow flesh. No Indian visitor has recognized it as matching any Indian
variety. Some suggest that it was the fruit of the rootstock if the scion had
been frozen in the freeze of 1894-95. At any rate, it continued to be known as
'Mulgoba', and it fostered many off-spring along the southeastern coast of the
State and in Cuba and Puerto Rico, though it proved to be very susceptible to
the disease, anthracnose, in this climate. Seeds from this tree were obtained
and planted by a Captain Haden in Miami. The trees fruited some years after his
death and his widow gave the name 'Haden' to the tree that bore the best fruit.
This variety was regarded as the standard of excellence locally for many decades
thereafter and was popular for shipping because of its tough skin.
George B. Cellon started extensive vegetative propagation (patch-budding) of
the 'Haden' in 1900 and shipped the fruits to northern markets. P.J. Wester
conducted many experiments in budding, grafting and inarching from 1904 to 1908
with less success. Shield-budding on a commercial scale was achieved by Mr.
Orange Pound of Coconut Grove in 1909 and this was a pioneer breakthrough which
gave strong impetus to mango growing, breeding, and dissemination.
Enthusiastic introduction of other varieties by the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's Bureau of Plant Industry, by nurserymen, and other individuals
followed, and the mango grew steadily in popularity and importance. The Reasoner
Brothers Nursery, on the west coast, imported many mango varieties and was
largely responsible for the ultimate establishment of the mango in that area,
together with a Mr. J.W. Barney of Palma Sola who had a large collection of
varieties and had worked out a feasible technique of propagation which he called