The Mangosteen is native to Southeast Asia but widely cultivated throughout the tropics such as in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Brazil.
The Mangosteen Tree is a slow-growing, medium-sized tree that can grow up to between 9 to 20m. It has a straight trunk and dense, round crown. The bark of the tree is bright green and smooth when young and turns turn brown and nearly black and rough with age. All parts of the plant produce a yellow, gummy latex when wounded. The bright green, opposite leaves are thick, leathery, elliptical, and about 8 to 15cm long.
The fleshy flowers are bout 4 to 5cm wide. They are borne in clusters of 3 to 9 at the tips of branches. It has 4 sepals and 4 fleshy petals. The petals are thick and green in colour with red spots on the outside and yellowish-red on the inside.
The fruit is capped by the prominent calyx at the stem end with 4 to 8 triangular, flat remnants of the stigma in a rosette form at the apex. The fruits are round, dark purple to reddish-purple in colour and have a thick, smooth rind. The rind is about 1cm thick, red in the cross-section, and purplish-white on the inside. It contains a bitter yellow latex and a purple juice that stains. Within the fruit is 4 to 8 triangular segments of white, juicy, soft flesh. The fruit may be seedless of have 1 to 5 seeds. The seeds are oval and oblong, somewhat flatted, and clings to the flesh. The fragrant flesh has a distinctive tangy, sweet-sour taste.