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Swietenia macrophylla


Swietenia macrophylla King

Family Name: Meliaceae
Synonyms: Swietenia belizensis, Swietenia krokovii, Swietenia candollei, Swietenia tessmannii
Common Name: Broad-leafed Mahogany, American Mahogany, Honduras Mahogany, 大叶桃花心木


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Big (>30m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 40 m


Native Distribution Tropical America
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Secondary Rainforest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal

Description and Ethnobotany

Foliage Leaves are asymmetric, simple pinnate compound, with 4-6 leaflets. Young leaves are pink or red, and gradually change to dark green when mature. Mature leaves are up to 20cm long.
Flowers The tree produces small, fragrant, white flowers, which are held in inflorescences called panicles.
Fruit When ripe, the fruits of the tree are dry hard woody capsules measuring up to 40 cm in length. These split open from apex to base to release numerous winged brown seeds that are dispersed by the wind.
Others - Plant Morphology Originating from tropical America, Swietenia macrophylla was introduced into Asia, the Pacific and Africa. S. macrophylla is commonly grown in Singapore as an ornamental roadside tree and is one of the world's most valuable source of hardwood timber used to make furniture. An evergreen tree, S. macrophylla is long-lived and slow-growing and can grow up to 35-40 m tall, with a girth of 3-4m. The bark of young trees is smooth and grey, but becomes dark brown and grey, ridged and flaky when trees mature. Propagation:Propagated from seeds. Seeds can be harvested from mature fruits which are collected directly from the tree, then beaten to open up the capsule. Seeds do not require any pre-treatment. Fresh seeds have a high germination rate of more than 90%.
Cultivation Prefers full sun, well-drained soil and requires moderate water. Care should be taken not to over-water. Prefers slightly acidic soil (pH6.1-6.5).
Etymology The genus epithet Swietenia is derived from the botanist and physician to Maria Theresa of Austria, Gerard von Swieten. The specific epithet macrophylla refers to large leaves, which is derived from the Greek "makros" meaning "large" and "phyllon" meaning "leaf".
Ethnobotanical Uses Cultural / Religious: Heritage Tree: There are 9 individuals of Swietenia macrophylla listed as Heritage Trees in Singapore. They are found all over various parts of Singapore. To find out more about these trees, please visit the Heritage Tree Register.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Fragrant (Bark)
Landscape Uses Suitable for Roadsides

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Abiotic (Self-Pollinated), Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Bee), Insects (Butterfly, Moth))
Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic, Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Well-Drained Soils
Propagation Method Seed


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Red
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate, Lanceolate)
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate
Foliar Base Oblique / Asymmetrical
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Mature Bark Texture Fissured, Peeling / Flaking / Papery

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Unisexual Flowers , Monoecious
Flower Colour(s) Cream / Off-White
Inflorescence Type Panicle

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Brown
Fruit Type Dehiscent Dry Fruit , Capsule

Image Repository



Master ID 1857
Species ID 3150
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 06 March 2023.