Cebu News

Tree of the month (part 2) Mangkono (Xanthostemon verdugonianus Naves)


Physical Characteristics

Endemic to the Philippines, it is considered the hardest tree in the country.

Mangkono is a medium-sized tree reaching a diameter of 50 centimeters or more with a very irregular, fluted, and bent bole frequently with epidermic branches.

The leaves are simple, relatively thick, alternate, and about eight to 12 centimeters long and three to five centimeters wide. Its red inflorescence terminates in a branch.

Individual flowers all spring from the apex of the peduncle, the branches arranged like the ribs of an umbrella. There are several peduncles per inflorescence bearing three to six florets in a peduncle and eventually forming a beautiful cluster with a total of about 13 to 20 complete flowers. The number of flowers in a peduncle is not regular; hence, the size of inflorescence also varies.

Mangkono is polyandrous since it has several stamens. The flower has an average of 17 anthers with an average filament length of 18 millimeters.

It takes 22 to 29 days from bud formation to flower opening. From flower opening to fruit set, it takes almost two weeks. On average it takes 77 to 81 days from fruit set to seed fall.

Another spontaneous opening at the mature stage of fruit of the mangkono lasts from five to eight days. Stigmatic receptivity period is almost of the same duration. A fruit bunch has an average number of 12 individual fruits which are dehiscent and septicidal. The fruit has two to three lobes that split into two or three sections when ripe.

The fruit has a very low number of filled seeds. The fruit is dehiscent and has two to three lobes that split into two to three sections when ripe and contain tiny half-moon shaped seeds.

The position of the pistil lack synchronization between pollinators, and stigmatic receptivity and incompatibility are some considerations for the low number of filled seeds in mangkono.


Mangkono is indigenous only within the so-called “Mangkono Triangle” consisting of Dinagat Island in Surigao, the Homonhon Island of Samar, Babatngon in Leyte, and in Palawan. It rarely grows more than a few inches in diameter.

Method of Propagation

Mangkono is propagated by seeds only.

Folk Belief

In islands where mangkono are found, people believe that the tree becomes tougher when exposed to heavy rainfall.

Contemporary Use

Mangkono is mainly used as pillars of small houses. Because of its inherent hardness and high density, mangkono has long been recognized as a substitute for the world famous Lignum vitae (Guaicum officinale L.). Mangkono is an excellent material for the bearing or stern bushing of a steamship’s propeller shaft.

Its other uses include rollers, shears, saw guide blocks, tool handles, novelties, pole and piles for wharfs and bridges, and posts for houses.

Cutting a 70-centimeter thick tree with axes normally requires three hours, but cutting a mangkono tree with the same diameter using a saw usually takes two to four days. 

Diamond-point saws have been used exclusively but a great volume of water is needed to counter overheating.

How to plant your mangkono seedling

Clear the area where you want to plant your seedling with unwanted weeds and debris. Make sure that a one-meter radius is kept free from other vegetation. Dig a plant hole with dimensions of at least 20 cm x 20 cm x 20 cm. Plant the seedling at proper depth. Root collar should be at level with or a little below the ground surface with the seedling oriented upward. Fill the hole with top or garden soil and press soil firmly around the base of the seedling. In plantation-making, seedlings should maintain a two-meter distance between seedlings if planted in a row of a three-meter distance from one strip to the next strip.

How to take care of your mangkono seedling

Remove grass and other unwanted vegetation and cultivate the soil around the base of the seedling (50 cm radius) once in every quarter for two to three years. Place mulch around the base of the seedling (maintaining the 50 cm radius and using cut grass, leaves and other suitable materials as mulch base). Prune the branches at most 50 percent of the crown depth, preferably during dry season, and ensure you do not injure the bark when pruning. Remove infected or infested vegetation nearby to stop plant diseases from spreading and contaminating your seedling. Monitor regularly the growth of the seedling for presence of pests and diseases.

Data about native tree species are featured by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. For suggestions, email [email protected].










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