Carabao (Philippine) Mango Grow Guide

Unripe Carabao Mango & Unripe Philippine Mango
Image Credit: Kuya Suda

Extremely popular in the Philippines, the Carabao Mango, also known as the Philippine Mango, is renowned for its exceptional sweetness and delightful flavor.

In fact, one of the sub-varieties of Carabao achieved a Guinness World Record in 1995 for being the sweetest mango in the world 😀

While there are newer varieties that are just as sweet, if not sweeter (e.g., Cotton Candy, Honey Kiss, etc.), Carabao still remains a favorite among those who prefer remarkably sweet Indochinese mangos.

With that being said, this grow guide will cover everything that you need to know about Carabao Mango:

Table of Contents

Carabao Mango Tree Growth Habit & Fruit Production

The Carabao Mango is considered a large-sized mango tree.

Carabao Mango Trees have a vigorous & upright growth habit. As a result, Carabao can realistically be kept between 20 – 25 feet tall, even with annual pruning. That being said, Carabao would not do well long-term in containers and would not be considered a “condo” mango.

Carabao’s fruit production consistently ranges from good to heavy. However, the trees are not particularly precocious and can take upwards of several years before they will have consistent and reliable production.

Like other Indochinese mango varieties, Carabao typically produces fruit clusters on a single branch. To encourage larger individual fruits and reduce the risk of fruit abrasions caused by friction among them, one can thin the fruit on the individual branches early in the season.

Despite being small-sized fruits that typically weigh between 0.5 and 0.75 lbs, these mangos have a favorable flesh-to-seed ratio.

Carabao Mango Flavor Profile

Carabao Mangos are considered an Indochinese Flavored Mango.

When you slice into a Carabao Mango, you’ll be greeted by a mild, spicy aroma. The fruit itself is a beautiful yellow, completely fiberless, and instantly melts in your mouth with its buttery texture. Depending on its freshness, it can be very juicy and dripping with mango goodness 🙂

Ripe Carabao Mango & Ripe Philippine Mango cut hedgehog style
Image Credit: Thorny Fruit Co

Carabao has a sweet and rich flavor with a hint of tartness and subtle citrus/pineapple undertones. The tartness is more pronounced when the fruit is underripe. While everyone’s taste buds are different, I would describe the overall taste as a classic mango flavor with honey-lemon tones.

Side note: If you are like my wife and love tart mangos: Sweet Tart is where it’s at 🙂

Ripe Carabao Mango & Ripe Philippine Mango cut in half
Image Credit: Thorny Fruit Co

Finally, it’s worth noting that Carabao Mangos produce polyembryonic seeds, which means that planting a seed from a Carabao Mango can yield another Carabao Mango Tree. However, with polyembryonic mango seeds, not selecting the correct sprout (the genetic clone) can result in a different tree that may be either better or worse.

Due to Carabao’s popularity, many people have planted Carabao seeds, resulting in the recognition of 14+ different sub-varieties of Carabao Mango Trees that produce both smaller and larger fruit than the original.

Ripe Carabao Mango & Ripe Philippine Mango cut in half
Image Credit: Thorny Fruit Co

That being said, if you are planting a Carabao Mango from seed, here are some quick tips for making sure you select the correct seedling (identical clone of the mother tree):

  • Wait until 2-3 leaf flushes occur; does one seedling’s leaves look more similar to the mother tree?
  • Generally speaking, the stronger sprout is the clone while the weaker seedling is the fertilized seed (non-identical)

Carabao Mango Season (And When To Pick)

Carabao Mangos are considered an early-season mango (May – June).

With that being said, the best time to pick Carabao Mangos are when they are mature and beginning to ripen on the tree. From a color perspective, this is when the fruit is beginning to show signs of yellow color break. Carabao is perfectly ripe when the majority of the fruit transitions to a deep yellow color. If you were to harvest the mango when its skin is greenish-yellow, it’s important to let the fruit finish ripening on the kitchen counter.

A Freshly Picked Ripe Carabao Mango &  A Freshly Picked Ripe Philippine Mango
Image Credit: Kuya Suda

With that being said, here are some additional tips to knowing when a Carabao Mango is ready to pick:

  • Don’t just go off sight; is the fruit beginning to soften?
  • How does the stem look? Is it drying up where it connects to the fruit?
  • Are there beads of sap present on the fruit?
  • Is the fruit beginning to transition to a greenish- yellow? (even if it’s subtle)
  • Is the fruit starting to develop an aroma?

Finally, Carabao Mangos have very thin skin, so it’s crucial to harvest them at the right stage to prevent bruising and fruit drop.

Carabao Mango Disease Resistance

Carabao Mangos are highly resistant to many common mango diseases, including Anthracnose and Bacterial Black Spot. As a result, Carabao would be an excellent addition to yards with less than ideal conditions, such as higher humidity levels and low winds.

Carabao Mango History

The Carabao Mango has its origins in the Philippines, where it plays a significant role in the country’s exports. In fact, the mango holds the distinction of being the official national fruit of the Philippines.

Furthermore, the name ‘Carabao’ derives from the water buffalo of the same name, a native species to the Philippines. Interestingly, the Carabao is also the country’s official national animal. To be honest, I can’t help but imagine a Carabao Buffalo enjoying a Carabao Mango 😛

As mentioned earlier, there are various sub-varieties of Carabao Mangos. However, if you’re seeking the sweetest of the sweet, look no further than the Sweet Elena cultivar.

Finally, one of the most famous mango seedlings derived from the Carabao variety is the Ataulfo Mango.

Carabao Mango Tree For Sale

If you’re contemplating buying a Carabao Mango Tree, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of this variety:

Carabao Mango Pros

  • Excellent disease resistance
  • Fruit is very sweet
  • Seed is polyembryonic (opportunity to save money by propagating via seed from someone who has a Carabao)

Carabao Mango Cons

  • Fruit is not particularly large
  • Tree is large and vigorous
  • Reliable fruit production takes some time

If you determine that the Carabao Mango suits your preferences, I strongly recommend buying a grafted tree to ensure dependable and consistent fruit production as soon as possible.

With that being said, if you are unable to find one at a local nursery, your next best option is checking out Tropical Acres Farms (not sponsored). They are the only legit place online (from my experience) that you are getting exactly what you are paying for. 

They have over 300 varieties of mangos available. You can either order budwood to graft yourself or submit a grafting request to have a grafted tree created for you. They do ship!

Conclusion

If you found this grow guide helpful, please consider sharing. It helps support the website 🙂

If you have any questions regarding anything mentioned in this grow guide, please comment them below! This way, others can also benefit from the answer to the same question. For any other questions or growing tips that you think may be helpful, feel free to use the contact form and drop me a line.

Thank you for reading! 🙂

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Matthew Rowlings

I have an Associates Degree in Biology from the University of Florida and am also an active Florida Master Gardener. I am located in Central Florida (Zone 10A) and have 6+ years of experience with growing 20+ types of tropical trees. You can learn more about me and why I started Tropical Tree Guide on my about page.

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2 thoughts on “Carabao (Philippine) Mango Grow Guide

    1. Hey Pedro!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      For clarification, I mentioned in the ‘Fruit and Taste’ Section that “Once the mango ripens into a deep yellow color, it is ready to eat!”

      Whereas in the “Mango Season” section I talk about harvesting Philippine when the “mango’s skin begins to transition from a deep-green to a slight greenish-yellow.” That is because at that point the fruit is mature and can be harvested at that stage (mature, but not fully ripened). However, the fruit will eventually transition to their characteristic deep yellow orange color as the fruit continues to ripen.

      I hope that clears things up!

      – Matthew

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