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Nature Weekly
Short Notes on Nature Singapore

14 August 2016 | Magical Mahogany | A New Book |

photo Last Saturday, I found a new book from Francis Lim on the broad-leafed mahogany tree (Swietenia macrophylla), also commonly known as sky fruit, while checking out the nature books’ section in a bookstore downtown. Interestingly, I had just written a short note on the fruit of this tree back in February without knowing that a book dedicated to this tree would soon be published in 2 months’ time in April. Needless to say, I was quite delighted to get hold of a copy and go through the content of this approximately 104-page book.

Francis who is a retired zookeeper had written 2 books on plants so far. This was the second book. The first book on the variety of mistletoes found in Singapore was published in 2011. Besides these 2 books, he had also published other books and articles.

As mentioned in the book, this tree landed in Singapore around 1876. In 2009, it was reported to be the third most commonly grown tree in Singapore with a population of slightly over 20,000 of them around the island. A few of these trees happened to be planted in the open-air carpark beside my block where I could view them from my bedroom window, though they were still around 50 metres away. The pictures shown in this post were taken from the window.

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There is another type of gigantic mahogany tree planted in Singapore known as African mahogany (Khaya grandifoliola). Compared to the broad-leafed mahogany, the African mahogany has spherical fruits, oval or round winged seeds and symmetrical leaflets. I came across this tree for the first time in 2009 at a nearby park. As of today, the trees are still standing tall in the same park.

Update: 21 August 2016

The tree that I thought was African mahogany (Khaya grandifoliola) for some years was actually another species of African mahogany, Khaya senegalensis. Thanks to Harun from Singapore Polytechnic for sharing with me this identification error.

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