The national tree of Jamaica is the Blue Mahoe. It is an attractive and strong and durable timber that is popularly used for furniture making and also for making decorative stuff such as frames, bowls and artistic 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.
This tree has a musical quality and has been traditionally used in the making of cuatros which is a type of lute. The Mahoe wood have been in much demand to create beautiful boxes, home and office furniture, floors, details, turned pieces, sculptures, exquisite jewelries, and legendary board games. Architects, furniture creator, specialist designers, artists and general wood lovers usually find an attraction this wood. Blue Mahoe an almost natural glossy look from the wood when finely finished.
The National Flower Committee was delegated the responsibility to recommend a national tree. The committee recommended the Blue Mahoe, which was approved.
There are excellent hardwoods which are widely used for furniture in Jamaica:
- Lignum Vitae
Lignum Vitae and Ebony are two of the favorite woods for furniture designing, but the supply has greatly diminished. Please note that the Mahogany which is also known as the Spanish Mahogany is the best known of Jamaican woods. The reason for this is that it is undoubtedly superior to the mainland species; it is much harder, richer in color and more beautiful in grain. It was used by the Spaniards for ship-building and no doubt was the material used to sail to England in the 16th century. Furthermore, for generations it served as the standard against which other cabinet woods were measured. Unfortunately though, due its massive use, there is little or no Mahogany left in Jamaica.
Typical trees of the low-lying, hot and dry Southern plains are Ebony, Lignum Vitae, Acacia, Cashew, and Logwood. On the seaward side of the plains, there are The low-lying limestone hills such as Long Mountain, Goat Island, The Hellshire Hills, and Portland Ridge support typical species such as Red Birch, Dogwood, Braziletto, Boarwood, Satinwood and Maiden Plum. On the interior limestones, there are Broad Leaf, Shad Bark, Wild Tamarind, Breadnut, Lancewood, and Pimento.
The trees in Jamaica that are located in the higher Blue Mountain are Yacca, Bilberry, Juniper Cedar and Bloodwood. There are trees such as Cedar, Mahoe, the Bulletwoods and the Silk Cotton which are widely distributed and do not seem to be confined to any particular set of conditions.
The common Bamboo, originally a native of the Far East, reached Jamaica at the beginning of the 18th century.
The Guango in the shade of which guinea grass pastures flourish was probably introduced into Jamaica with cattle from South America.
The colorful Poinciana is native to tropical eastern Africa, Madagascar and India. The guinea grass pastures own their origin to an accidental growth from seeds coming from West Africa (Guinea Coast).
The Coconut is not a native of the West Indies but has long become a permanent and important feature of the landscape.