Swietenia macrophylla

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Name and publication

Swietenia macrophylla King, Hooker’s Icon. Pl. 16: t. 1550 (1886).


Sections of the fruits of Honduras mahogany are frequently encountered in imported potpourri. These septifragal capsules dehisce into three parts. The woody outer valves are sold as “mahogany shells,” the papery inner valves as “shoehorns,” and the spongy central columella as “mahogany pods.” The columella may also be further sawn into star-like sections. The outer valves resemble woody canoes, 13-18.5 cm long x 4-5 cm wide. The inner valves are shaped like cardboard shoehorns, curved at the tip, 10-11 cm long x 3.5-4 cm wide. The central columella has five ribs, 7-15 cm long x 3-5 cm wide, streaked beige on a dark brown background with scored ridges at the top. The sections of the columella are 2-4 cm in diameter, star-shaped with five holes about midway from the points to the center, beige with brown veining.

Nativity and distribution

Swietenia macrophylla is native from Mexico to Brazil but widely cultivated and naturalized in Asia and the South Pacific.