- Mangga Wani
- White Mango
The white mango, scientific name Mangifera caesia, is a flowering species part of the Anacardiaceae family, which also includes the cashew. Like the name suggests, it is related to the mango and can be found in large plantations in Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Kerala and other parts of Asia.
The white mango tree enjoys marshlands and it is very rarely encountered in forests in the wild. White mango has leaves with a round shape that unite into a dense crown and can reach a height of 30 m. The small flowers are no more than 0.7 cm long and consist of five sepals, with a pink or purple color. The edible fruits of white mango tree are elliptically-shaped drupes with a large size, between 10 and 15 cm in length and 6 to 8 cm in width. They are covered in thin brown skin with patches of different tones. The flesh is sweet but sour or acid as well, with a white or yellow color and a very strong smell. The species is native to the island of Borneo but has been cultivated in other countries in the area for its edible fruit. White mango tree is found in large orchards in western Malaysia, where it is the most common Mangifera species. The islands of Borneo, Sumatra and Bali also cultivate it on a large scale.
The initial native range of the white mango tree was probably on Borneo. However, it is very popular in cultivation today, especially in western Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo, Bali and Peninsular Malaysia. This valuable mango species is also found in other parts of Asia such as Java, but in lower numbers. One variety that might be cultivated on a larger scale in the future is named wani and it tastes better than the regular wild fruit. The wood has some industrial uses, as a construction material for light purposes.
The white mango is considered a fruit with strong effects against aging due to the mixture of bioactive compounds in its composition. It provides large doses of vitamins A and C, which in turn boost the body’s production of collagen. This protein delays the symptoms of aging by protecting connective tissues and blood vessels from damage.
In addition, the white mango fruits are a major source of vitamin B6, which plays a major role in the development and protection of brain cells. They have a direct impact on the amalgamation of the major neurotransmitters that control several brain functions and influence sleep and mood. The white mango is one of the richest natural sources for this essential vitamin. Including it in your daily diet will ensure proper nerve operation and a healthy brain, without the side effects of chemical supplements that also provide this vitamin. The white mango fruits also provide a second compound that improves memory and focus, named glutamine.
Beta-carotene, a strong substance from the carotenoid group, is also found in generous amounts in white mango. It greatly increases the body’s ability to fight pathogens and eliminate toxins by boosting the immune response. It is also one of the elements that become vitamin A, which is another powerful antioxidant agent. This vitamin neutralizes the free radicals that can damage tissues and cells, so the white mango fruit is an excellent addition to a healthy diet.
The white mango tree’s wood is also valuable and its timber is known as “machang”. There isn’t a big difference between the sapwood and the heartwood, which has a brown or sometimes light grey color, while the corewood resembles chocolate and can have black stripes. The grain is wavy and interlocked, with a coarse texture. Despite its hard and heavy structure, the white mango wood is not very durable. It can also be attacked by fungi, termites and wood borers. It is quite stable after it dries completely and it seasons quickly, with a low risk of distortion.
The green wood can be difficult to resaw but the procedure becomes easy when it is dry. It is also easy to plan and can be processed using normal tools. It has a moderately smooth surface and other operations such as gluing, nailing and screwing are performed effectively on this wood. The corewood can be used for decorative veneer due to its beautiful colors. The timber is good only for light constructions due to its limited durability but can be used for interior paneling, boxes, crates, pallets, plywood manufacture turnery and flooring.
The white mango can be consumed fresh when ripe; its white flesh is juicy, with a sweet and sour taste. Some people dislike it due to the rancid smell. The Wani cultivar is much better suited for raw consumption since it doesn’t have the fetid smell and the taste is a lot sweeter. The fruit is also used to prepare juices.
The white mango serves as an ingredient in sambal, an Asian spice with a large content of chilli. The flesh can be preserved in salt, in order to prepare sambal during the off-season, when the fresh fruits are not available. Young leaves of white mango are also edible and can serve as a spice in salads.
Fresh or dry seeds can be prepared by grating. They are a popular side dish to rice, combined with dried fish and some spices. White mango flesh is often consumed after dipping in dark soy sauce or chili sauce. It is also prepared as a pickle and serves as an ingredient in the production of a spice consumed with fish.
Habitat and cultivation
The white mango tree is a tropical species that inhabits areas with low elevation, usually less than 400 m. It needs constant moisture, so only grows in regions where it rains during the entire year. White mango tree is commonly cultivated on riverbanks in East Kalimantan due to its ability to tolerate periodic inundation. Because of its fondness for water, it is common in marshes and along rivers, while quite rare in forests. The species is well adapted to monsoon environments.
White mangoes produce many flowers and fruits, with mature trees yielding thousands every year. Fruits need 3 months to become ripe. The seeds are viable and can be used for propagation, but grafting on seedling stocks is also possible. The white mango trees develop a dense crown and need plenty of space in cultivation, at least 12 m in all directions, in order to develop properly.
Side effects and cautions
The white mango fruit should not be consumed when not fully ripe because its juice is toxic. It acts as a poison when ingested and has been used for this purpose in Asia. It also irritates the skin on contact. This makes harvesting a dangerous job and the workers must have their entire bodies protected and wear gloves in order to avoid injury.