Garcinia mangostana (Clusiaceae)
Spanish: mangostán, mangostín
Indonesia, Malaysia: manggis
Philippines: manggustan, manggis
Vietnam: cay mang cut
Origin and Distribution
Native to Southeast Asia. Cultivated throughout the tropics, but primarily in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brazil, Honduras, Panama, and in the USA, in Hawaii.
Medium tree, to 30-60 feet (9-18 m) tall, with a straight trunk and a rounded, dense crown. The new bark is bright green and smooth, becoming dark brown and rough with age. All parts of the plant exude yellow latex when wounded. The thick leaves are opposite, elliptical and bright green, from 3-6 inches (8-15 cm) in length. The flowers are solitary or in pairs at the branch apex, 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) in diameter, with 4 pinkish white petals and 4 persistent sepals. The fruit is round, 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) in diameter, with a thick purple rind surrounding 4-8 fruit segments. The pulp is aromatic and has a delightful sweet sour taste. Usually only one enlarged segment has a viable seed, which is flattened and about 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) long.
Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) fruit.
Propagation and Culture
Mangosteen is usually propagated by seed. The seeds lose viability quickly, and must be planted fresh or stored in moist peat moss, sawdust or paper. Germination occurs at 2-3 weeks, and the seedlings are somewhat slow growers. They need from 50-75% shade for the first 3-4 years, then can be grown in full sun. They are sensitive to high levels of fertilizer, and should be fertilized with a dilute fertilizer solution or an organic fertilizer. Trees can be transplanted to the field after 1-2 years, when they are a foot (30 cm) or more in height. Mangosteen can be successfully grafted onto rootstocks of Garcinia venulosa, G. xanthochymus and G. hombroniana (mangosteen grafting).
Mangosteen grows best in a fertile, well drained soil with an acid pH and a high organic matter content. Rainfall or supplemental irrigation should be available throughout the year, although they tolerate brief periods of drought, and this stress may induce flowering. Mangosteen will grow from sea level to 5,000 feet (1,524 m), but suffers if temperatures drop to 40F (4C) or lower.
Trees should be fertilized every 3-4 months during the first 3 years of growth, and thereafter 1-2 times per year. Mulching is recommended to add nutrients and organic matter to the soil, conserve moisture and control weeds. With good care, trees can begin to produce fruits at 6-8 years from planting. Young trees produce about 100-200 fruits per year, while a mature tree can produce from 500-1,000 or more. In Puerto Rico, mangosteen fruits from July to December.
Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) flower.
Cultivars and Related Species
Although Mangosteen is apomictic, with female plants producing clonal seeds without fertilization. Thus, there is little variation in mangosteen and almost no cultivars exist. However, the Malaysian Department of Agriculture has identified two clones, 'GA1' and 'GA2', whose fruits differ in shape, weight, external color, and number of seeds. It is hypothesized that mangosteen is a polyploid that arose from natural hybridization between Garcinia hombroniana y G. malaccensis.
There are over 100 Garcinia species, mostly from southeast Asia. Of these, approximately 30 have edible fruits, but the mangosteen is the most important and has the best quality fruit. Other important Garcinia species include G. atroviridis (assam gelugur), G. hombroniana (seashore mangosteen), G. indica (kokam), G. parvifolia (assam aur aur), G. prainiana (cherapu) y G. xanthochymus (yellow mangosteen).
Mangosteen is primarily consumed fresh, but is also canned and used to make juices and jellies.
Nutritional composition per 100 g mangosteen fruit
The fruit rind is ground and used in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery, and for skin diseases. A tea made from the leaves and bark is used to lower fever and for urinary disorders.
The tree, with its glossy green leaves and symmetrical shape, is also a beautiful ornamental.
More information on mangosteen
An excellent publication on commercial mangosteen production from Australia.
From the 1987 classic by Julia Morton, "Fruits of Warm Climates".
Summaries of scientific papers on mangosteen (genetics/breeding,
propagation/production, and post harvest/processing).
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