Legend has it, Queen Victoria offered knighthood to any subject who could bring her a mangosteen fruit in prime condition. Sadly, no one succeeded in delivering the mangosteen. According to the legend, the virtual impossibility of preserving the fruit during the weeks-long journey prohibited anyone outside of the growing regions from enjoying the sensational flavor of the mangosteen. Some have suggested that thanks to the Queen’s admirable quest the fruit achieved the heralded title, “Queen of Fruits,” a name still used today by mangosteen adorers around the globe.
Mangosteen is one of the most praised of tropical fruits, and certainly the most esteemed fruit in the family Guttiferae. Among Spanish-speaking people, it is called mangostan; to the French, it is mangostanier, mangoustanier, mangouste or mangostier; in Portuguese, it is mangostao, mangosta or mangusta; in Dutch, it is manggis or manggistan; in Vietnamese, mang cut; in Malaysia, it may be referred to in any of these languages or by the local terms—mesetor, semetah, or sementah; in the Philippines, it is mangis or mangostan. Throughout the Malay Archipelago, mangosteen goes by many different spellings and names, most similar to those noted above.
Origin and Distribution
The place of origin of the mangosteen is believed to be the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas; still, there are wild trees in the forests of Kemaman, Malaya. Corner suggests the tree may have been first domesticated in Thailand, or Burma. It is much cultivated in Thailand, where there were 9,700 acres (4,000 ha) in 1965. It can also be found in Kampuchea, southern Vietnam and Burma as well as throughout Malaysia and Singapore.
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