4 de marzo de 2008

THE MAHOGANY TREE - NATIONAL TREE OF BELIZE



The Mahogany Tree (Swietenia Macrophilla) is one of the Belize’s magnificent giants of the forest. Rising straight and tall to over a hundred feet from great buttresses at the roots, it emerges above the canopy of the surrounding trees with a crown of large, shining green leaves. In the early months of the year, when the leaves fall and new red-brown growth appears, the tree can be spotted from a great distance.The tree puts out a great flush of small whitish flowers - the blossom for dark fruits, which are pear-shaped capsules about six inches long. When the fruits mature they split into five valves, freeing large winged seeds which are carried away by the wind. They fall on the shaded protection of the forest floor and germinate to begin a new life cycle. The mahogany tree matures in 60 to 80 years.British settlers exploited the forest for mahogany, beginning around the middle of the 17th century. It was originally exported to the United Kingdom in the form of squared logs, but shipment now consists mainly of sawn lumber. The mahogany tree forms part of Belize's Coat of Arms. The motto "Sub Umbra Florero" means: Under the shade (of the mahogany tree) I flourish.