Swietenia macrophylla (royal mahogany)
Viable seeds / kg (approx): 1,450
Minimum purchase: 250 g
Royal mahogany is distributed from
the Atlantic region of southeastern Mexico through Central America, to northern
South America and south of the Amazon basin in Bolivia and Brazil. It is a
non-deciduous tree, usually 30-45 m tall, but it can reach 50 m and 2 m in
diameter (DBH). It is the national tree of Belize.
The wood is one of the best known
and most appreciated in the world, and it has been commercialized and used
internationally for more than 400 years. The heartwood is reddish pink when
young, darkening with age to a deep reddish brown. It has a beautiful finish
and highly decorative figure, as well as good properties for commercial uses.
It is easy to saw, dries quickly and without problems, and it is resistant to a
large number of insects. It is mainly used for furniture and decorative veneer,
but it can also be used in construction, boats, musical instruments and crafts,
among many other uses.
Its natural habitat is the tropical
and subtropical lowland forests, at altitudes of 50-500 masl, but reaching up
to 1400 masl, with mean temperatures of 22-28ºC, with dry, humid or very humid
climates, with mean rainfall of 1000 to 2500 mm. It can tolerate dry seasons of
4 months. Under cultivation it has shown good results in areas with rainfall of
up to 5000 mm per year, with temperatures from 12 to 37ºC.
It grows in a wide variety of
soils, from clayey to sandy, from acid to alkaline, but it prefers deep
alluvial soils, well drained and fertile, preferably alkaline to neutral.
Seeds and nursery
It does not require pre-germination
treatments. For the seedbed, a loose substrate such as river sand should be
used, well washed and disinfected. The seed should be distributed evenly or in
rows 7-10 cm apart, sowing at a depth of about 3 cm, with the wing side upwards.
Watering should not be excessive during germination, as these seeds are
susceptible to rot under high humidity. Germination begins after 10 - 25 days
and transplanting is done when the seedlings have reached 5 to 10 cm in height
and the first true leaves appear. The root is usually very long, so it must be
pruned to about 5 cm in length. When transplanting, be sure to make a hole deep
enough in the substrate to avoid curving up of the roots. Shade should be
provided for the first 2-3 weeks after transplanting, for instance using shade
clothing (saran) 50%. With seeds of good germination, it is preferably to sow directly
in the containers. The plants will be ready for field planting after 3 - 4
months in the nursery, when they have a height of 20 to 30 cm. A couple of
weeks before planting out in the field it is recommended to reduce watering to
stimulate the lignification of the stems.
Royal mahogany is a relatively slow growing
species, with increments of 1-2 m in height and 1.2-1.4 cm in diameter (DBH) per
year. In general, volume increments of 10-25 m3 / ha / year are the
most usual in plantations, with rotations of 30-40 years for commercial wood. It
is not recommended to plant mahogany in pure plantations, because of the
problem of the shoot borer (Hypsipyla
grandella), but in mixture with other forest or agricultural species, in
rows within young or degraded forests, or in lines leaving a strip of
vegetation in the center. An intensive pruning scheme is required to try to
achieve trees with a straight stem at harvesting time.
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