How India’s ‘Mango Man’ Grew a Tree With 300 Flavors

Kalpana Sunder in Atlas Obscura:

Three varieties from Khan’s famous tree

It is a mango tree like no other. Standing tall in a nursery near Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, its massive canopy is large enough to seat 15 people for a picnic and its branches hang heavy with fruit. Unlike the young trees it towers over, though, the texture of the leaves on each branch is different: Some are dull green or olive green; others are glossy and vibrant. The mangoes on each branch look different too: round, oval, or kidney shaped, some green, some yellow, and others with hues of orange, pink, and purple. That’s because this magical mango tree grows more than 300 varieties.

Over a video call, Kalimullah Khan, 80, known as the “Mango Man,” introduces me to his creation. Stocky and bearded in a crisp, white kurta pyjama, he sits under its canopy and points out varieties, each identified by a tiny label on its green pedicle: Dasheri mangoes from a nearby village, Himsagar from West Bengal, Langra from Bihar. And of course the prized Alphonso mango, whose sweet, creamy, saffron-colored pulp is in high demand domestically and internationally.

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