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Honduran mahogany, Honduras mahogany, or big-leaf mahogany

Syn.: Swietenia belizensis Lundell, Swietenia candollei Pittier, Swietenia krukovii Gleason, Swietenia macrophylla var. marabaensis Ledoux & Lobato, Swietenia tessmannii Harms

Family: Meliaceae

Swietenia macrophylla

Swietenia macrophylla

Description: The bark of the mahogany tree is dark and deeply furrowed, providing protection to its sturdy trunk. Its glossy, dark green leaves are compound and pinnate, arranged alternately along the branches. In the spring, clusters of small, fragrant, cream-colored flowers adorn the tree, attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies. These blossoms give way to large, woody capsules containing winged seeds, which are dispersed by wind. Mahogany timber is highly valued in furniture making, cabinetry, and boat construction due to its durability, attractive grain, and resistance to decay and insects. Additionally, the tree holds cultural significance in some regions and is used in traditional medicine for various purposes.

Swietenia macrophylla

Swietenia macrophylla

Substitutions: Khaya spp. (African Mahogany): While not exactly the same as true mahogany, African mahogany species like Khaya senegalensis and Khaya ivorensis offer similar qualities in terms of appearance and workability. They’re utilized in much the same way as Swietenia mahogany. Entandrophragma cylindricum (Sapele): Sapele is a hardwood native to tropical Africa, known for its reddish-brown color and attractive grain patterns. It’s often used as a substitute for mahogany in furniture and cabinetry. Tectona grandis (Teak): Like mahogany, teak is prized for its durability, strength, and resistance to decay. It’s commonly used in furniture making, boat building, and outdoor construction.

Swietenia macrophylla

Swietenia macrophylla

Ecology: Mahogany trees thrive in tropical climates with well-drained, fertile soils rich in organic matter, requiring ample sunlight and warmth to flourish while benefiting from periodic rainfall for optimal growth and development.

Swietenia macrophylla

Swietenia macrophylla

General Distribution: Mahogany trees are naturally distributed throughout tropical regions worldwide, including parts of Central and South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

Swietenia macrophylla

Author of text and photos: Chanduni Bootawatta.

Photographed in Dambulla,Sri Lanka on 24/02/2024.

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