When Mango Trees Hit Back


“Of all the trees we could’ve hit, we had to get one that hits back.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Oh, I love this quote! I remember that scene from the Chamber of Secrets well. It reminded me of our mango tree, one of the five mango trees closest to our house. It is an Indio mango and the fruit isn’t as good as our two Rosa mango trees.

Two times a year, this tree drops hundreds of mangoes on our roof. At the peak of mango season, we fill three wheelbarrows every morning with rotten mangoes. They bounce off the roof in the windy season like a rapid fire machine gun. Bam! Bam! And then they roll off the roof and scatter in the front yard.

We’ve tried everything to stop the almost constant supply of Indio mangoes, except for toppling the tree. It is too tall to spray or blow off the blossoms so the fruit doesn’t produce. And, it is a wonderful shade tree!

Last year, I researched an injection that I could put in the trunk of the tree called a fruit inhibitor. It isn’t a pesticide and will actually sterilize the tree so it won’t produce fruit. There were two problems with this; first, it had never been tried on a mango tree, only walnut trees in the states, and second, although it isn’t a pesticide, the container looked like it was a pesticide, which is prohibited on airplanes.

So, it was back to the old climbing the tree and cutting the limbs that hung over our roof. Jorge to the rescue!
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Ron dragged our aluminum extension ladder to the tree and expected Jorge to climb the ladder. But, no! Jorge scaled the tree barefoot, like an agile squirrel. In fact, Jorge is a legend around here. He holds the record for climbing 11 coconut trees in an hour. Pretty amazing.
img_2995He tied himself to the tree with an old rope and started hacking the limbs with his machete!
img_3002While he was hacking the limbs, he told us the story about the time that hundreds of angry wasps attacked as he hung 60 feet in the air. As he told us the story, I noticed that he was doing a lot of swatting with his hands. Wasps!! But, it didn’t seem to faze him and he continued hacking away at the branches.
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It took Jorge about an hour to clear the branches away from the roof. For his work, he asked for 150 cordobas. $5.17  We didn’t have change so we gave him 200 cords. Incredible!

There are still a lot of mango blossoms in the top of the tree. My only hope is that with our strong winds, the blossoms will blow off. During the peak of the season, we can’t give our mangoes away. Everyone has mangoes. We dug our big mango hole the other day, waiting for the mangoes to drop. It won’t take long to fill the hole.

But, at least our Indio mango tree won’t hit back as hard or as often as it did last mango season!

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19 thoughts on “When Mango Trees Hit Back

  1. I remember , when growing up in the Caribbean, we had two guava trees above a hot tin roof. We had bedrooms with huge windows overlooking this roof. Those guavas came down hard. They were the little green ones. YOu would think they would wait to ripen before falling. I guess it was the wind carrying them away. Oh, memories. We had a nasty latrine in the back of this old house. Men from the village used to come there and drink all night, laugh, sing and fall asleep. I was a bit scared of them, as I was only 7 years old. Funny what you remember ….

  2. I didn’t know mango trees got that big either but it looks like it makes a nice shade tree and I’m sure you need it for that.

    Jorge sounds amazing scaling coconut trees with his bare feet. He should be on Survivor. LOL

  3. This reminds me of the joke in Florida. Why do you lock your car? If you don’t, you’ll come back and find it full of oranges. Who would have thought too many mangoes could be a problem, but in your case yes. I’m amazed here too at the guys who just climb up the trees with a machete and go to work.

  4. This is a great story!

    We have a man who comes to our house once or twice a week and works all day long cutting limbs, moving dirt and rocks, raking, digging, painting, or pretty much anything else we need to have done. I take him out to lunch, but he won’t let us pay him more than 20 dollars a day. And all the while he is happy and thanking us for providing an opportunity for him to work. You have to love these, “salt of the earth” people.

    Watch your head!

  5. My first visit to Nicaragua came during the mid-80’s Contra War years. I wasn’t anywhere near actual fighting but nevertheless still a little hyper. Our first night in Managua we stayed at a place with lots of mango trees, which our host noted was in season with falling fruit that prevented people from sleeping in courtyard hammocks. We laughed. Then just after we went to bed a falling mango hit the tin roof and all of us ran out of rooms wanting to know where the “explosion” came from! Guess who was laughing then!

  6. A mango’s high-velocity impact on a tin roof has the power to trigger the ‘flight’ impulse in even an exceptionally-calm person! It’s amazing how fast those limbs grow as well, and the roots also compete for soil nutrients.. it’s hard to get things to grow beneath the trees.

    Thanks for the reminder of what it’s like to live ‘in harmony’ with mango trees!

  7. I love your stories and the photos and had absolutely no idea that mango trees could grow to be so tall. Jorge looks so comfortable up in the tree doing what he knows best.

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