Mahogany Trees

Scientific name: Swietenia mahagoni, Swietenia macrophylla
Common names: West Indian mahogany, Honduran mahogany

Mahogany was not originally native to St. Croix but, according to Olasee Davis, was introduced to the island in 1775. Of the five mahogany species worldwide, only two were introduced to St. Croix: Swietenia mahagoni, known as West Indies mahogany, and Swietenia macrophylla, known as Honduran mahogany. Historical Danish records indicate that the first mahogany introduced to St. Croix were planted along what is now known as Mahogany Road on the West End of the island.

West Indies Mahogany is a majestic, deciduous tree that can reach heights exceeding 35 meters (115 feet). It features a straight trunk with grayish-brown bark that becomes deeply furrowed as the tree ages. The compound leaves are arranged in pairs and consist of 4-8 pairs of leaflets. These leaflets are oblong or ovate, with a pointed tip and serrated edges. The tree produces small, fragrant, greenish-yellow flowers that attract pollinators. Its fruit is a woody capsule containing small, winged seeds.

Honduran Mahogany, or Swietenia macrophylla, is smaller than West Indies mahogany, reaching heights less than two-thirds of its cousin, Swietenia mahagoni. It has a straight trunk with a grayish-brown bark that is smooth when young but becomes rough and scaly with age. The leaves are compound, arranged in pairs, and composed of 4-8 pairs of leaflets. The leaflets are oblong or ovate, with a pointed tip and serrated edges.However, the leaves and fruit of Swietenia macrophylla are larger than its cousin, which is reflected in its species designation, meaning “large leaf.”

The small leafed West Indies variant is predominant on St Croix.

Frederiksted 20231224
Small Leaf 20231224
Large Leaf 20231224

There exists an Experimental Forest, growing mahogany, located in Estate Thomas.
Estate Thomas is not an original estate name but exists in the area of Sion Farm, adjacent to Estate Bellevue on parcel Queen 24 which was originally part of Sion Farm.

Medicinal uses:
Mahogany trees, particularly West Indies Mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni) and Honduran Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), have limited documented medicinal uses, and information specifically related to their medicinal uses on St. Croix may be scarce.

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