I know I’m overly sentimental about this damned tree, but our mango tree is a survivor. Mango trees really don’t live in places north of South Florida, for one. And the now four-foot tall plant sprung up from the seed of a grocery store mango my dad ate in St. Louis and threw in the ground. It’s since survived moves from Missouri to Texas and Texas to Washington, two bouts with some nasty fungus, a lost limb and even the time Matty flew his drone into it, chopping off some of its leaves.
But mango tree is no longer four feet tall. It lost its second of two main branches today, after it fell to the same disease that cost the other one about a month ago. Thankfully, before things got worse, the mango tree had a good few weeks in which it sprouted a few baby branches closer to the root.
We have a dog, three cats and a tiny human, but one of the most babied creatures in the house is Mango Tree. A few years ago, my dad ate a mango, put the seed into the ground and up sprung a little tree. He gave it to us when he moved to Europe and we drove the tree to Texas, where it thrived for awhile, and then moved Mango Tree with us to DC, where he faced a near death fungal scare but survived.
Since the 2011 fungal scare, Mango Tree sprouted a whole new limb and has grown at least six inches. But last week, something scary happened. One of his limbs started showing signs of decay, and all the leaves on that limb started drying up. It didn’t make sense, since the main limb is doing fine, and below it a new branch is growing.
Today Matty rushed Mango Tree to a nursery where the gardeners gave us the bad news: Mango Tree would have to lose a limb if we want him to have a chance at survival.
The amputation just happened. Matty is mourning. Any advice you have or stories you can share that might help will be appreciated.
Three years ago, when my parents were still living in St. Louis and not The Hague, my dad ate a grocery store mango and planted the seed in the ground to see what would happen. Being the excellent stewards of life he is, of course my Dad’s seed sprouted a tiny tree.
In 2009, after my dad retired and moved across the Atlantic with Mom, he forced this tree upon Matty and me. We drove it in the backseat of Matty’s car, from St. Louis to Austin. Dad kept telling us to plant it in the backyard, but I’d grown so attached to Mango Tree and his story that I didn’t want to plant him for fear we’d have to leave Austin someday.
Matty has cared for and talked to Mango Tree nearly every day for the past two years, as it’s sprouted more branches and inched taller and taller. If the temperature ever dropped below unbearably hot, Matty brought him inside. Then, when we made the difficult decision to move to Washington, Mango Tree rode in a backseat again, all the way from the 512 to the 202.
Dad came to visit last month. He was stunned and amused to see mango tree had grown to be a good three feet tall, especially since he actually remembers it as a seed.
The mango tree that could — a sapling that came to symbolize a fruitful life for Matty and me and whose health gave us some confidence that we could successfully care for a living thing — is now quite ill.
His leaves have turned yellow and spotty, his branches are turning a powdery white. We think it’s a fungal disease. Dad said we needed to get him to a nursery to diagnose the issue. Matty, who’s out of town tonight, wants me to find some sort of spray to fight the illness yesterday. If you have suggestions for what else we oughta do, let me know.
I know it’s sort of ridiculous to feel so frantic about a plant. But as it is with pets, Mango Tree’s part of our family now. If there were an overpriced emergency nursery as there are emergency animal clinics, I’d be rushing the little guy there right now.