Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tree Thursday - Mahogany

Swietenia mahagoni

Mahogany can reach 75 feet in height with a 50-foot-spread but is more often seen at 40 to 50 feet tall and wide. A native of south Florida, Mahogany will grow in full sun or partial shade on a wide range of soil types, and is quite resistant to salt spray. Plants will respond with rapid growth to rich, well-drained soil and regular fertilizing.  While the Mahogany is a wonderful tree, it does have a couple characteristics that can cause problems when used as street or parking lot tree.  First, the Mahogany is semi-evergreen and for a two week period in the spring, the tree will shed all its leaves and flush out new ones.  This can cause a considerable mess.  Second, the seed pods are about the size of a baseball and are hard.  When these fall off the tree before they open, they can cause damage to cars below.  There are also several insects that can cause problems to the tree.  That being said, the Mahogany does make a wonderful park tree. 

This and several other species of Mahogany are used in the lumber industry for fine cabinets and furniture due to the color, straight grain and durability of the wood.  Most of the old growth mahogany trees in the Keys were logged around the late 1800s, early 1900s.  I’ve heard that the Mahogany trees would tower over the canopy forest.  In a State Park on Key Largo, I have stood on an old stump that was at least 10 feet across.  Unfortunately all those trees are gone and the ones we grow today will never acquire that size. 

Growth Rate – Fast
Drought Tolerance – High
Salt Tolerance - High


Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-5785  Fax - (954) 828-4745

Think before you print!