Jamaica National Tree - Blue Mahoe

The National Tree of Jamaica is the Blue Mahoe Hibiscus elatus. In areas that are very wet it will grow in a wide range of elevations, up to 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) and is often used in reforestation. The Blue Mahoe tree is quite attractive with its straight trunk, broad green leaves and hibiscus-like flowers. It grows quite rapidly, often attaining 20 metres (66 ft) or more in height. The attractive flower changes color as it matures, going from bright yellow to orange yellow and finally to crimson. The name Mahoe is derived from a Carib word. The ‘blue’ refers to blue-green streaks in the polished wood, giving it a distinctive appearance. The Blue Mahoe is a beautiful and durable timber that is widely used for cabinet making and also for making decorative objects such as picture frames, bowls and wood carvings. The inner bark of the tree is often referred to as Cuba bark because it was formerly used for tying bundles of Havana cigars. The wood has a musical quality and has been traditionally used in the making of cuatros, a type of lute. Fine boxes, furniture, inlay works, floors, details, turned pieces, exquisite jewelleries, sculptures, and ancient board games, have been, and demand to be transformed from the Mahoe. Architects, furniture-makers, designers, artists and wood lovers will find a charm in working with this wood. It has fine sanding and turning qualities, and a natural gloss in the wood when finely finished. The wood is not usually blue, but brown. In some lumber there can be grey, green, black, blue and purple colors all combined in just one small piece. Growing conditions may be responsible for the color variations but this has not been proven.