image catesbyrs vol281
Image number: RS.18825
Credit: ©The Royal Society

African mahogany




Mark Catesby (1683-1749, British), Naturalist

Object type

Library reference





Content object


Botanical study of a branch of an American mahogany tree, Swietenia mahagoni, referred to here as Arbor foliis pinnatis, with detail views of the leaves, flowers, fruit, seed case, and a single seed.

Written in the associated description: ‘These Trees grow to a great Height, and are usually four Foot Diameter; the Bark is a brown Colour, the Leaves are pinnated, growing by Pairs on slender Stalks, the Ribs of the Leaves (like those of the Tilia) run on one side, dividing the Leaf unequally.’

Plate 81 from volume II of Mark Catesby’s The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands (London, 1731).

Mark Catesby (1683-1749), British naturalist was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1733. Travelling under the auspices of the Royal Society, Catesby recorded the earliest western scientific descriptions of the flora and fauna of the ‘New World’. He was the first naturalist to use folio-sized colour plates in a natural history book, and etched the copper plates himself before hand-colouring each individual print with watercolours.

Associated place

<The World>
   > North America
      > United States
<The World>
   > North America
      > Bahamas