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Swietenia macrophylla King

Swietenia macrophylla King




Swietenia krukovii Gleason, Swietenia belizensis Lundell.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Mahogani.
English Big-, broad- or large-leaved mahogany, Honduras mahogany.

Geographical Distributions

Swietenia macrophylla is native to the mainland of tropical Central and South America from Mexico to Peru and Brazil but absent from the central Amazon. It is planted throughout the tropics in reforestation projects and plantations, for instance in Java, Sarawak and especially the Philippines, and planted as a lawn tree in Peninsular Malaysia.


Swietenia macrophylla is a medium-sized to large tree that can reach up to 40(-60) m tall. The bole is branchless for up to 18(-25) m with diametre up to 150(-200) cm. The buttresses are broad and plank-like and up to 5 m high.

The leaves are with (2-)3-6(-8) pairs of leaflets measuring (8-)9-13(-18) cm x 3-4(-5.5) cm but sometimes they are larger on young trees.

The inflorescence is 10-18(-20) cm. The sepals and petals are with fringe hairs.

The seed capsule is 10-15(-22) cm long while the seed is 7.5-12 cm long.

Ecology / Cultivation

Under natural conditions, Swietenia thrives in both deciduous and evergreen rainforests and occurs scattered or in small groups, but more than 4-8 trees/ha are rarely encountered. The optimum annual rainfall is 1400-2500(-3500) mm with a dry period of 0-4 months. Swietenia grows from sea level to 1500 m altitude, in areas with a mean annual temperature of 20-28°C, the range of the coldest and warmest month being 11-22°C and 22-30°C respectively. Swietenia is largely unspecific as to soil requirements. Within its natural range, it has been found on alluvial soils, volcanic soils, heavy clays, lateritic soils, soils derived from limestone, granite and other sedimentary, igneous or metamorphic rock formations and even on shallow rendzinas. In plantations in Java, it grows on very poor soils but performs best on deep, fertile, well-drained soils with a pH of 6.5-7.5. It does not tolerate waterlogging. In tropical America, Swietenia is among the pioneer species reoccupying degraded agricultural land. It has been shown that Tectona is outcompeted by mahogany in a mixed stand. S. macrophylla is reported to be very wind-firm (resistant to cyclones) in the Philippines.

Line Drawing / Photograph


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