This stately tree was planted in Diliman during the early 90s. Its wood may be superb as lumber but if you are a car owner concerned about parking space and car security, think twice before parking under this tree that came all the way from North and South America. The Swietenia macrophylla or big leaf Mahogany bears fruits that weigh something like a kilogram per piece. It has a hard casing that splits into boat-shaped wedges when it falls to the ground or on your car’s windshield. Many of these become heavy during the rainy season and the fruit stems break causing them to fall at a speed and force that is enough to break a car’s windshield. This is what happened to the car of a U.P. Professor on Friday, October 7, 2011.
Why were these imported trees ever planted here in Quezon City, Philippines? The hard fruit shells are no good at all as potting medium for orchids. Contrary to what some people think, the seeds are poisonous and cannot be eaten to lower one’s blood sugar level. It seems that only lichens grow and thrive on the surface of the Swietenia’s trunk and no fern, moss or epiphyte is inclined to cling to any of this tree’s branches.
The Philippines has hundreds of tree species waiting on the line. Why don’t administrative officials plant trees like Red Lauan, Molave, Tindalo, Balitbitan (Oh, there are some along University Avenue, very good!), Kalantas,Guiho,Mabolo and other equally gorgeous native trees? Let them raise these hazardous Mahogany in plantations for the lumber but not in places where it can damage cars. Ask any member of the Native Plant Conservation Society and they will tell you about many more trees in the Philippines that are as exquisite as these imported Mahogany trees planted along buildings and parking lots! As Tita Emily Marcelo would say, “Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire!!”. Before you park your car under a shady, leafy and inviting tree, make sure it isn’t the big leaf Mahogany.