An overview of a fruit introduced to Yemen just recently:Mangos find a place in Yemen [Archives:2003/653/Culture]

July 24 2003

Yemen Times Staff
Taiz Bureau

Mango is a seasonal fruit that appeared in Yemen for the first time in Al-Haza in Zabid just adjacent to Raima Mountains. Since then, it grew well in Al-Barakani and Al-Dhabab Valley in Taiz and also in Lahj, Abian, and Hodeidah. The mango is native to southern Asia, especially Burma and eastern India. It spread early on to Malaya, eastern Asia and eastern Africa. Mangos were introduced to Yemen in the 20th century.
Anang, Anba'a and Anb Idham are a few of the local names for mango, which has a beautiful tree belonging to the citrus family that originally comes from India and China. Al-Mudhafar Al-Rasooli in his ancient book “Al-Mutamad” had written about this fruit. “Al-Anba'a is an Indian plant that can not exist outside India and China. Its tree is similar to that of walnuts and Indian people gather it when it is ripe, cover it with salt and use it as pickles. In their culture it is one of the favorite types of food and is also considered an appetizer. If eaten constantly, it gets rid of bad breath and sweat odor.” he said.
Mango was never mentioned to have existed in Yemen any time in ancient history, which implies that indeed, it appeared in this country in the 20th century. Spice dealers or alchemists never mentioned mango in their documents including Dawood Al-Antaki who was a scientist of the sixteenth century. He did not even point to it in any of his references indicating that it was not known in Egypt then.

Mango's features
Mango is an attractive tree that reaches more than 4 meters in height and blooms small orange or purple flowers. Its branches and leaves give a delightful distinguished smell. However there are types of mangos.
Mangos will grow in almost any well-drained soil whether sandy, loam or clay, but avoid heavy, wet soils. A pH between 5.5 and 7.5 is preferred. They are somewhat tolerant of alkalinity. For good growth, mangos need a deep soil to accommodate their extensive root systems, and they found this soil in many areas in Yemen.
There is also a small type that does not exceed two meters in height with a dark trunk and rectangular leaves similar to those of Guava trees. Its fruits are quite small and sour and could be grown in cool climates. The medium size mango is the most prominently grown in Yemen because it grows in moderate climates and is quite sweet in taste. Yet the third type is the largest in size and Yemeni farmers started growing them man years ago. Perhaps this type of mangos has been brought by merchants who went back and forth between Yemen and India in the last century. This type of mangos is mostly grown in hot to moderate climates and has found good conditions for itself in Zabid, Abyan, Malhan, Lahj, Juba, East Sabir and the Dhabab Valley in Taiz province. Yet the best kinds are found in Al-Barakani Valley in Al-Hujariya and they ripen in June and July because it is their season.

Medical benefits
Very little has been mentioned about mangos in ancient books but Shiekh Mohammed bin Yihya Al-Junaid, one of the famous Yemeni herbal physicians said, “The really sweet mango juice gives the body great energy and if mixed with milk it helps stomach problems and cures intestine infections. It is an appetizer if taken moderately. It is advised not to drink water immediately after drinking mango juice. The oil that is extracted out of mango peals also heals asthma and pile diseases, but the sour type of mangos could seriously affect the kidneys and weaken the gums.”