Named for the French priest and explorer Laurentiers Garcin (1673-1751) the mangosteen is thought to have originated in Southeast Asia. It has been used for thousands of years in Chinese, Aryuvedic and folk medicine in Asia. As a result of the mangosteen fruit's exquisite flavor, it has been given the nickname of the "Queen of Fruits", and in the French Caribbean the "Food of the Gods". The mangosteen is the national fruit of Thailand, where it goes by the name mang khut. Elsewhere it is known as: mangostao, mangostanier, manggis, mangostan, or semetah.
While mangosteen can be grown in Hawaii and Puerto Rico, U.S.D.A. regulations have never allowed its importation to the U.S. mainland. Only in 2002 did the mangosteen become available in the U.S. for the first time in the form of a functional health beverage.
The mangosteen (scientific name garcinia mangostana) belongs to the Guttiferae family. Today, the fruit (no relation to the mango) is cultivated in the tropica regions of both hemispheres with commercial plantations in Thailand, India, Malaysia, Australia, Vietnam and the Philippines. The mangosteen also grows in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Venezuela, Brazil, Burma, Cambodia, Honduras, Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
The mangosteen grows only in tropical latitudes. The trees require rich soil, with good drainage. The mangosteen has two harvests yearly. Yield varies between trees and even seasons. Although a tree might take seven to ten years to mature, some still bear fruit at over 100 years of age.
The mangosteen is composed of pericarp (rind), pulp (fruit), and seeds. The pulp is composed of four to eight triangular segments of snow-white, juicy, soft flesh possessing the consistency of a ripe plumb. The pericarp consists of a dark-purple, smooth rind about 6-10 mm thick which encloses the pulp.