Jamaica National Tree

Jamaica National Tree - Blue Mahoe Tree

Blue Mahoe Tree

Description of the Blue Mahoe

Jamaica National Tree – The Blue Mahoe (Hibiscus Elatus) is the national tree of Jamaica. It is indigenous to the island and grows quite rapidly, often attaining 20m (66ft) or more in height. In wetter districts it will grow in a wide range of elevations, up to 1200m (4000 ft.) and is often used in reforestation.

The tree is quite attractive with its straight trunk, broad green leaves and hibiscus-like flowers. The attractive flower changes colour as it matures, going from bright yellow to orange red and finally to crimson.

The Meaning in the Name

The name mahoe is derived from a Carib Indian word. The ‘blue’ refers to blue-green streaks in the polished wood, giving it a distinctive appearance.

Uses of the tree.

The inner bark of the tree is often referred to as ‘Cuba bark’ because it was formerly used for tying bundles of Havana cigars. Cuba is the only other place where the Blue Mahoe grows naturally.

The Blue Mahoe has been regarded as one of our primary economic timbers. It is currently much used for reafforestation and is a valuable source of cabinet timber and also for making decorative objects such as picture frames, bowls and carving. Of an attractive blue-green colour with variegated yellow instrusions, it is capable of taking a high polish showing to advantage the variety of grain and colour tones. The trade, local and foreign, consumes annually many thousands of feet of this beautiful timber.

 

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