Mango tree: Much more than yummy fruits
Spotting a Mango tree in Colombo is not too difficult and these days it is made even easier by the prominent flowers which virtually cover the crown of the tree and grab the attention of a passerby.

This tree grows in both the wet and dry zones upto an altitude of 4000 feet. It has a dense, wide canopy and grows to about 80 feet. The bark of the tree is rough and brown.

The leaves are crowded at the ends of the branches and are long and pointed and shiny green. There is a red brown flush in the new leaves while the old leaves turn yellow. The flowering season differs and can be between February and March or in October. The flowers are showy and appear in clusters at the ends of the branches. They are yellow green and some have a pungent odour.

The Mango tree is valued not only for its tasty fruits but also for its timber and its medicinal properties. The timber is soft and used for boxes, dugout canoes and plywood. The whole tree has medicinal properties. The juice of the leaves is used for bleeding dysentery. An infusion of the young leaves is used to cure chronic diseases of the lungs.

A cold infusion of Mango, Madan (Syzgium cumini) and the Kumbuk (Terminalia arjuna) mixed with bees’ honey is used to treat bleeding from internal organs.
A decoction of the dry flowers can be given for diarrhoea and dysentery.
The Mango tree that we commonly see in the city and throughout the island has been introduced from India. It is found all over tropical Asia.

It is referred to as Amba in Sinhalese and Mangai in Tamil. The scientific name is Mangifera indica. Sri Lanka has also been blessed with an endemic species of Mango, known as the Et-amba in Sinhalese. Mangifera zeylanica is a much taller tree growing to about 130 feet.

While the flowers are similar to the Indian Mango, the bark is whitish and the leaves are small and stiff. In India the Mango is considered a holy tree, sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus. Lord Buddha was presented with a grove of Mango trees under which he could find repose. To the Hindus the tree is a transformation of the god Prajapati.

Thus on holy days the twigs are used as tooth brushes and the leaves as spoons. In marriage ceremonies the hall is decorated with Mango leaves and the wood is used in funeral pyres. Compiled by Ruk Rakaganno - 2554438; email:

Back to Top  Back to Plus  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.