Botanical Name: Talipariti elatum
Species: T. elatum
*Hibiscus elatus Sw.
*Hibiscus azanzae DC.
*Hibiscus elatus Sw.
*Hibiscus tiliaceus elatus (Sw.)
*Hochr. Pariti grande Britto
Common Name: Blue Mahoe
Habitat: Talipariti elatum is native to the islands of Cuba, Jamaica the US. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. In wetter areas it will grow in a wide range of elevations, up to 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) and is often used in reforestation. It is the national tree of Jamaica.
Talipariti elatum is an evergreen tree growing to 25 m (82ft) by 25 m (82ft) at a fast rate. The 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 red and finally to crimson. The Trees can flower and produce fruit all year round.
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.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.
A tree of the lowland tropics. It is not well suited to areas with a mean annual rainfall less than 1,500mm. Grows in the wild in a wide range of soils. A very wind-resistant species, capable of withstanding hurricanes.
Medicinal Uses: An infusion of the mucilaginous leaves and young shoots is used in the treatment of dysentery.
Other Uses: The bark is clear in colour, rather soft in texture, and consists of many layers that can be separated after beating. The inner bark is used for making rope and cord, which is reported to be very durable in salt and brackish water. The fibres of the bark of young trees make good ropes. The lace-like inner bark was at one time known as Cuba bark from its being used as the material for tying round bundles of Havana cigars. The heartwood is basically a greyish brown or olive, but is often richly variegated with streaks of purple, metallic blue, and olive, or separated by plain olive patches. The best forms have the appearance, when polished, of dark-green variegated marble. The sapwood is narrow and nearly white. The grain is fairly straight; texture medium to somewhat coarse; surface lustrous; there is no distinctive odour or taste present in seasoned wood. The wood is moderately heavy; very hard, but not so hard as rosewood (Amyris balsamifera); tough; durable to very durable. It is very flexible, and is said to have all the characters of the best European ash, but to be more durable and longer in the fibre. It works easily, but needs particular care to attain a good polish. Wood of good colour is used in cabinet work, for furniture etc, it is much used locally for building purposes, for carriage and cart work and for railway sleepers, it also yields good shingles. Use is also made of it for gun-stocks, carriage poles, ships’ knees, and fishing rod.
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