Hibiscus elatus (Blue Mahoe) is Jamaica’s National Tree. This is a medium sized tree growing from 20 to 25 m (60 to 70 ft) with a tall straight trunk 30 to 40 cm (12 to 18 inches) in diameter. The bark is gray, smooth to finely fissured in texture. The bark of young trees make good ropes, but this use destroys the growing tree and is to be discouraged!
Blue Mahoe is distinguished by its large heart-shaped leaves that end in an abrupt point. The other easily visible feature of the tree are the showy, hibiscus-like flowers which are 8 to 13 cm across, and range in colour from primrose to yellow to orange. The flowers last just one day and flowering occurs irregularly through the year. The seed capsules contain many hairy seeds.
The wood of Blue Mahoe is a rich blue-green colour, and is often streaked with purple, metallic blue and olive hues. The wood has several attractive features: it is hard, elastic, very durable and when highly polished, has the appearance of marble. For these qualities the wood is prized for cabinetwork, furniture, house interior trim and craft items.
The Blue Mahoe is native to Jamaica and Cuba. It grows best in damp conditions such as mountain valleys, though it will grow in quite a wide range of elevations up to 1200 m (4000 ft).
We currently have 6 herbarium specimens for Hibiscus elatus in our collection. Click on any specimen below to view the herbarium sheet data.