Selected Trees and Shrubs
Swietenia macrophylla; Common name: Large Leaf or Honduras Mahogany
Plant Family: Belongs to the Meliaceae, a mostly tropical family, which includes the Small Leaf Mahogany (Swietenia mahogani), Tiama (Entandrophraga angolense) of W. Africa and Neem (Azadiracta indica) of India.
Description: Large, handsome, slow growing, upright tree, distinguished from its cousin, Swietenia mahogani, by its larger leaves and faster growth; sometimes achieving very large size in its natural habitat, up to 45 m in height (150 ft), with bole 2 m or more in diameter (6 ft) above the heavy buttresses; straight, grey trunk and clear boles up to 25 m (80 ft); Botanic Gardens specimens much smaller; heartwood reddish, pinkish, salmon or yellowish when fresh, deepening with age to deep rich red or brown; leaves pinnately compound, alternate and persistent, with 4-8 pairs of leathery, shiny, light green leaflets, 6.5-12.5 cm long (2.5-5 in) and 2.5-5 cm broad (1-2 in); small white or greenish-yellow flowers in axillary panicles; fruit a light-brown, 5-celled, pear-shaped woody capsule, 10-15 cm long (4-6 in) and about 6-7 cm broad (2.5-3 in), splitting upwards from the base to let out numerous winged seeds.
Natural Habitat: Thrives in moderate rainfall to humid climates up to about 600 m elevation (2000 ft); propagated by seeds; is threatened by over-harvesting for commercial trade.
Origin and Distribution: Native of Central America, introduced to southern Mexico, the Caribbean, and tropics and semi-tropics of northern S. America, also introduced to tropical and subtropical Africa and Australia; extensively planted in south Asia and the Pacific.
Uses: Source of Honduras mahogany, a dense timber weighing 30-50 lbs/cu ft; very easy to work with hand and machine tools; easy to finish and takes an excellent polish; highly prized for fine furniture, cabinet making, interior trim, paneling, fancy veneers, musical instruments and boat building
Anon. Official Guide to the Botanic Gardens, Dominica. 1924?
C.D. Adams. Flowering Plants of Jamaica. University of the West Indies, Mona, Glasgow University Press 1972
H.F. Macmillan. Tropical Planting and Gardening. Macmillan, London 1956
Martin Chudnoff. Tropical Timbers of the World. USDA Forest Service 1984
Swietenia macrophylla. Danida Forest Seed Center, Humlebaek, Denmark 2000
Robert A.DeFilipps. Useful Plants of the Commonwealth of Dominica, West Indies. Smithsonian Institution,Washington, D.C. 1998
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