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Mango or Green Pepper?

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator

I grew up thinking that a green bell pepper was called a mango. It wasn't until my sister Lynn Miller moved to Florida that we realized there was also a fruit called a mango.

Now that I have seen and tasted a mango, it seems odd to me that a green bell pepper could ever be called a mango. They are completely different in so many ways.

A green bell pepper is a tender, warm-season vegetable. According to the University of Illinois Extension publication Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest, a pepper is technically speaking a "chile," though hot peppers more usually are associated with that name.

Peppers are in the nightshade family Solanaceae. Other plants in that family include tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant. Surprisingly some members of the nightshade family are highly toxic, including the weeds jimsonweed, groundcherry, horsenettle, and nightshade.

Sweet varieties of peppers, including the bells, are eaten green or ripe and are used for salads, soup-, relishes, pickling, and more. New varieties are available in different colors and forms and are a great addition to the edible landscape.

Mangos are tropical fruits that grow on trees in warmer locations. According to the Texas A&M Extension website mangos are regarded as the queen of fruits in tropical areas of the world. Mangos are eaten raw as a dessert or processed to various products.

Mangos are in the cashew family Anacardiaceae. It might surprise you to know that poison ivy is also in that family. That is why some people have skin sensitivity when peeling a mango. The oil urushiol in both plants can cause a dermal skin rash.

So how did a green pepper ever become a mango? Apparently this is common in the American Midwest. Apparently the first mangos were imported into the American colonies in pickled forms. People began to use "mango" when referring to any "pickled dish." Pretty soon anything that was pickled was called a "mango," including apples, peaches, grapes, and even green bell peppers. One of the most popular "mangoes" was a pickled, stuffed green pepper.

Visit the University of Illinois Extension's Recipes for Diabetes website at for great recipes containing peppers and mangos. I suggest the Mango Salsa recipe found the Fiesta Flavors link.

Regardless of whether it is a mango pepper, green bell pepper, or the mango fruit all are healthy and delicious. Enjoy a mango today!



As horticulture educator, Rhonda Ferree inspired citizens in local communities to grow their own food and improve their home landscapes. She focused on high quality, impactful programs that taught homeowners how to create energy-efficient landscapes using sustainable practices that increase property values and help the environment.

After 30 years with University of Illinois Extension, Rhonda retired in 2018. She continues to share her passion for horticulture related topics as “Retro Rhonda” on social media.

ILRiverHort is a blog that helps people connect to nature and grow.