Characteristics of Mahogany Tree (Swietenia mahagoni) in the Wild

Swietenia mahagoni
Mahogany is a tree species from the Swietenia family originating from South Florida, the United States, and islands in the Caribbean including the Bahamas, Cuba, Barbados, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and Haiti. This is an economically valuable tree species because of its high-quality wood.

Mahogany trees can flourish in sandy soil close to the beach, and it likes a place that is exposed to direct sunlight throughout the day.

This tree is strong because it can survive even on arid soil. Although not water for months, the mahogany tree can still survive thanks to its deep roots to find water.

Location requirements for mahogany tree cultivation are areas with a maximum height of 1,500 m above sea level, rainfall of 1,500-5,000 mm per year, and temperatures between 11 °C – 36 °C.

The use of mahogany was first recorded in 1514. In that year mahogany was carved to become a cross placed at the Cathedral of Santa María la Menor in Santo Domingo (now the capital of the Dominican Republic). Mahogany wood is still in perfect condition after more than 500 years.

In 1540, Spanish explorers used mahogany to make canoes and to repair ships in the West Indies.

The next use of mahogany was recorded in 1597, regarding the repair of Sir Walter Raleigh’s ship in the West Indies.

The last documented use of mahogany was for structures that were worked on in 1578 in Spain. Mahogany wood is used in the construction and interior decoration of one of the grandest royal residences built during the Renaissance in Europe, El Escorial.

The benefits and evidence of the durability of mahogany wood are well known and widely used since ancient times.

The first large-scale use of mahogany was carried out in Spain and England for shipbuilding during the 18th century. Since then mahogany has become an important tree because of its valuable timber.

The golden age of English furniture making in the 18th century, on average using mahogany.

Over time, mahogany is not only used and used in England, but also in France, Spain, and Italy. And now it is used in furniture and building construction, all over the world.

Even in modern times such as mahogany, today is still used and increasingly widespread use for the manufacture of fortepianos, astronomical and surveying instruments, and for the manufacture of small complex objects such as scale/term, microscope, and microtome.

Mahogany trees are currently listed as Vulnerable (VU) in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Preservation of Native Flora of Florida Act.


Characteristics of Mahogany Leaf

Swietenia mahagoni Leaf
Source : St. John

The leaves are pinnate, long, with four to eight leaflets, each leaflet having 5-6 cm in length and 2-3 cm in width.


Characteristics of Mahogany Flower

Swietenia mahagoni Flower
Source :

Mahogany trees only bloom after more than 7 years. The flowers are cylindrical and brownish-yellow in color.


Characteristics of Mahogany Fruit

Swietenia mahagoni Fruit
Source : B. Friday

Small mahogany, capsule-shaped 5-10 cm long, 3-6 cm wide, and contains many seeds.


Characteristics of Mahogany Tree

Swietenia mahagoni Tree
Source :

Mahogany is a tree that grows as high as 30-35 meters. The bark of a young mahogany tree is smooth and grayish, then becomes darker and wrinkled as the tree ages.

Mahogany trees can survive in dry and arid soils, making it a suitable tree to be planted in open spaces highlighted by the sun throughout the day.

For the population of Indonesia, especially Java, this plant is not new, because since the Dutch colonial era, mahogany trees and their partners Tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica), have been widely planted on the roadside, especially along the road built by Daendels between Anyer to Panarukan.


A mahogany tree can reduce air pollution around 47% – 69% so it is called a protective tree as well as an air filter.

The leaves can absorb pollutants around them, then release oxygen (O2) which makes the surrounding air fresh.

Mahogany contains flavonoids and saponins. The fruit is reportedly able to improve blood circulation. Also, the fruit is said to reduce cholesterol, reduce fat in the body, reduce the accumulation of fat in the blood vessels, reduce pain, overcome bleeding and bruising, prevent pestilence, help boost the immune system, prevent blood clots, strengthen liver function, slow the blood clotting process, and acts as an antioxidant to get rid of free radicals.

The quality of mahogany is slightly below Teak (Tectona grandis) so it is often dubbed the second prima donna in the wood market.

The bark is used to dye clothes. While the sap called “blendok” can be used as raw material for glue.


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