Mahogany

 
 

The university has trees of Dominican mahogany (S. mahagoni), Honduras mahagony (S. macrophylla), and the hybrid between them, known as hybrid mahogany or St. Croix mahogany. Dominican mahogany is native to the Greater Antilles, except Puerto Rico, and Honduras mahogany is native to Central and South America. Both can reach a height of 130 feet, with a trunk 6 feet in diameter. The leaves have up to 12 leaflets whose size is used to distinguish the species: small in Dominican mahogany, much larger in Honduras mahogany, and intermediate in the hybrid. Flowers are about half an inch wide, fragrant, and are grouped in inflorescenses up to 6 inches long that appear at the bases of the new leaves. Fruits are hard capsules that open in five parts to liberate winged seeds. The tree generally sheds its leaves during autumn and winter, in spring it produces the new foliage and blooms. Seeds mostly disperse during winter. The generic name honors the Austrian physician Gerard van Swieten (1700-1772). Mahagoni apparently derives from a Caribbean name for the tree, macrophylla means large leaves.


The campus has many mahogany trees, most of them hybrid mahogany, like the one photographed at the southeast corner of the de Diego Building. There are Dominican mahogany trees south of the Dean of Students’ Building and west of the Luchetti Building. There are Honduras mahogany trees west of the Student Union and north of the Band and Orchestra Department. The row of 17 trees along the front of the Celis and Monzón Buildings, as well as the tree across from the Stefani Building, are hybrid mahogany. The largest trees were planted after 1930 by Henry Cowles and Severo Vélez.

Swietenia mahagoni y S. macrophylla (Meliaceae)