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Mahoni fruits vary in size depending on the age of the tree, but the average fruit ranges between 11-39 centimeters in length and 6-12 centimeters in diameter. The oblong to ovoid fruits are semi-rough, woody, and firm with a light brown-grey textured surface, and attach upright to the branches of the tree on fuzzy stalks. As the fruit matures, there are 4-5 valves that split open revealing 22-71 seeds that are tightly layered and have a dark brown, winged shape. These seeds average 7-12 centimeters in length and have a bitter flavor.
Mahoni fruits are available year-round, with varying seasons in tropical regions around the world.
Mahoni fruit, botanically classified as Swietenia macrophylla, grow on large, deciduous trees that can reach up to forty meters in height and are members of the Meliaceae family. Also known as Sky fruit for the fruit’s upright growth habit, Mahoni translates from Indonesian to mean “mahogany” and is the tree well-known for its wood. Mahogany trees are predominately used to construct high-end furniture, but the seeds have also been used as an herbal remedy in Asia and South America since ancient times. In addition to the wood and seeds, Mahoni trees are used as an ornamental in Malaysia and Indonesia and are a favorite tree to plant in backyard gardens.
Mahoni seeds contain flavonoids, which are antioxidants that can help remove free radicals and toxins in the body. The seeds also contain saponins which can help protect the body and in general, the seeds provide nutrients that have anti-inflammatory properties.
Mahoni fruits can be removed from the branch of the tree before the fruit cracks open, or if the fruit has cracked the seeds can be collected as they fall to the ground. The fruits are predominately used for their seeds, which are mainly dried and ground into a fine powder. This powder can then be mixed into hot water as a tea or incorporated into other liquids and consumed as a medicinal drink. Depending on the maturity of the fruit and seed, some seeds may also be consumed straight from the tree but can be very bitter. To help dilute the bitter flavor, the Mahoni is often mixed with honey, sugar, or ginger. Dried Mahoni seeds, when ground into a powder, will keep over one year when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Mahoni seeds have been utilized for hundreds of years in traditional medicines of Southeast Asia and South America and are highly valued for their cleansing capabilities and protection against free radicals. The seeds are commonly made into an herbal tea and are believed to help increase circulation, boost immunity, and maintain insulin levels. Mahoni seeds are also used in Southeast Asia as a natural bug repellent and are ingested and rubbed on the skin to repel mosquitos. These traditions of using Mahoni were primarily localized to the regions the tree was grown in until the seed received global recognition in the 1990s when health caregivers began commercially selling the seed in powder and capsule form.
Mahoni fruits are native to the tropical forests of Mexico and South America and have been growing wild since ancient times. The trees were then introduced to Indonesia in 1870 and cultivation began on plantations in Java around 1897. Today Mahoni trees are predominately found in Southeast Asia, and many plantations now grow the trees for the high-quality wood as a significant source of revenue. Mahoni trees can be found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, India, the Philippines, Laos, Sri Lanka, the Pacific Islands, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia and other regions of Central and South America.