Swietenia macrophylla


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.

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