Mahogany Trees Have More Polish Than You Think

Mahogany trees
Mahoganies (Swietenia mahogani) make great shade trees for large Florida properties.

Mahogany trees in Florida are glorious shade-makers that thrive along streets and in large yards. So when we saw them in a southwestern Florida article titled “Worst Trees for Florida,” we had to investigate.

Turns out their bad review is for “brittle wood” that breaks up in low winds and a “ravaged look” after storms pass through. But if the wood’s strength and density is good enough for fine furniture and cabinetry, shouldn’t it be strong enough to resist wind damage?

Training young mahogany trees is key.

Now don’t get us wrong. The experts here at ArtisTree agree mahogany tree branches have been known to break and split. But pin the blame on improper pruning and/or no pruning at all. If you let them grow long and lanky, where the branches grow upright and close together, they might suffer damage during heavy storms. That’s why it’s so critical to train young mahoganies to have a good central leader branch to resist strong winds. Then, keep them pruned and maintained as needed.

Another concern focuses on the tree’s aggressive root system; however, this can be easily addressed as well. Just give them plenty of space. Plant six feet away from sidewalks and at least 15 feet away from permanent structures. Those good root systems mean you will rarely have to worry about them uprooting in a storm. (Their salt tolerance also makes them a good choice for coastal properties.)

Due to over-harvesting, mahogany trees are on Florida’s endangered species list. But they can still be found at native nurseries. If you’re lucky enough to have one on your property, take good care of it!

So now that we have those two concerns out of the way, let’s take a closer look at these sturdy Florida native trees. Mahogany trees will grow big and fast, reaching a height of 40 to 60 feet and producing a canopy that spans some 50 feet. Because the canopy is loose and airy, the sun can still shine through, providing a beautiful dappled shade that keeps vegetation growing underneath.

In a nutshell: Mahogany trees don’t get no respect.

Finally, don’t overlook the lovely leaves and seed pods on these unsung heroes. Mahoganies are semi-deciduous, dropping their leaves each spring. But new ones will soon sprout out, and boy, are they pretty. Each one consists of eight shiny green leaflets. Big pods or capsules appear at the same time, spilling out winged seeds in the winter.

In a nutshell: ArtisTree Landscape and Design acknowledges that poorly pruned mahogany trees are susceptible to possible splitting in heavy storms. However, if you train them properly when they’re young, keep them trimmed as needed, and plant them in the right location, you’ll have a wonderful shade tree to enjoy. Our opinion? Mahogany trees don’t belong on a “Worst Trees for Florida” list.

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ArtisTree also provides custom maintenance proposals for HOA communities. 941.488.8897

ArtisTree also provides custom proposals to landscape-maintained communities throughout Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties. Contact Michael Casper at 941.488.8897 and he’ll be happy to assist you.

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