Wednesday, July 20, 2016
West Indian Mahogany - Swietenia mahagoni
The West Indian Mahogany - Swietenia mahagoni, is best recognized by the fissured brown bark, leaves with curved leaflets and large fruit capsule. It is a evergreen or semi deciduous tree that reaches heights of 50-85 feet and grows in an erect fashion with a broad crown. It is native to subtropical hammocks, commonly grown in private gardens, along roadsides and in highway medians in South Florida. The Swietenia is a small genus of only 3 species distributed in tropical West Africa and tropical America.
The bark of the West Indian Mahogany is brownish and smooth when young, becoming reddish brown and fissured at maturity. The leaves are alternate, pinnately compound, absent of a terminal leaflet, with blades of 6-8 cms long and 4-8 leaflets (rarely as many of 20), usually recurved and asymmetric at the base. The upper leaf surfaces are a lustrous green, while the underside is a more yellow-green or brown-green. The flowers are uni sexual, 5-7 mm in diameter, 5 sepals, 5 petals and are orange-yellow or green-yellow in color. Male and female flowers both appear on the the same tree, the male have long non functional pistils, the females short pistils, 10 stamens with filaments fused into a tube surrounding the pistil. The fruit are a large egg shaped brown capsule that ranges in size from 6-13 cm long, each fruit splits into 5 parts that release numerous flat winged seeds. Both the fruit and flowers occur/appear year round.