What Is Mahogany? Part 2

Mahogany other than Swietenia

Swietenia is not the only genus in the Mahogany family that yields high quality timber. There are 49 genera with approximately 550 species in the Mahogany family. Some have timber uses and some are even used as direct replacements for Swietenia. Others are merely plants and may only produce fruit, oil and seed often used for medicines or lotions. Of the ones that do yield timber, some include the word mahogany in their trade name and others do not. There are two terms to know:

  • GENUINE MAHOGANY as a term applies to mahogany of the Swietenia genus only, wherever grown.
  • TRUE MAHOGANY describes the timber of any Mahogany family genus other than Swietenia.

Non-Swietenia mahoganies include:

African Mahogany

KhayaAFRICAN MAHOGANY is the generic trade name for timber from any one of five species of the genus Khaya, four of which are endemic to Africa and the other endemic to Madagascar. Khaya is the most accepted Mahogany family timber other than Swietenia to be called mahogany without qualification. Since genuine mahogany became commercially unavailable in 2003 the Khaya species have become the most common substitutes. It is popular in the international furniture trade today and it is equally sought after as a tone wood. In the past the major exporter has been Côte d’Ivoire. Exports also originate from Cameroon, Gabon and Ghana, usually in consignments of mixed species. The United States is the largest importer. Variations in trade names are usually determined by where it is sourced.

  1. Khaya anthotheca grows in Angola, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique and is also known as ACAJOU-BLANC, EAST AFRICAN MAHOGANY or WHITE MAHOGANY. It’s appearance is indistinguishable from Khaya ivorensis (see following.) It is also grown in plantations in Southern Africa and in some Asian countries, mainly Indonesia (since the 1950s), with varying success.
  2. Khaya grandifoliola which is native to Benin, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Sudan, Togo, and Uganda is also called BENIN MAHOGANY.
  3. Khaya ivorensis which is native to Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, and Nigeria is also called LAGOS MAHOGANY or RED MAHOGANY. It has been introduced into Angola, Central African Republic, Guinea, and Togo.
  4. Khaya senegalensis is found in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo, and Uganda and also called SENEGAL MAHOGANY or DRY ZONE MAHOGANY. It has been planted in China (introduced 1963-1966), Malaysia (1950s originally and more recently in the early 2000’s using seeds from Australia), Sri Lanka (1970s), Thailand (2000), Vietnam, and northern Australia (1960’s and 1990’s.) Plantations in Australia today exceed 15,000 hectares, the largest in the world.
  5. Khaya madagascariensis is found only in Madagascar and Comoros and is often simply called MADAGASCAR MAHOGANY. This species is included in the IUCN Red List as “endangered.”

Visually, the wood of Khaya senegalensis and Khaya grandifoliola resembles Swietenia more closely than the wood of Khaya anthotheca or Khaya ivorensis, but they both are heavier and harder than Swietenia. All native species are currently under inspection by CITES for recommending restrictions.

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Toon / Australian Red Cedar / Chinese Mahogany

TOON, botanical name Toona, is a Mahogany family tree native throughout eastern Europe, northern Asia, and South East Asia. In South East Asia the wood is considered of high value and is used in house and ship building, for joinery, high-grade furniture, tea chests and boxes, musical instruments, toys and novelties, carvings, veneer, plywood and pencils. It is used by higher-quality Chinese guitar manufacturers where mahogany is otherwise specified. Toona is quite similar to Swietenia sonically but lighter in weight. There are four species, each with their own trade names :

  1. Toona ciliata is traded as INDIAN MAHOGANY or RED CEDAR. It is native to Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Australia. The Australian species, known in the United States as AUSTRALIAN RED CEDAR, is no longer commercially available. The Chinese species was declared endangered in 2015. Toona ciliata is the most common Toona species exported from Asia. It has been introduced into several countries in Africa (Republic of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania), Central/South America (Argentina and Costa Rica), Asia (Sri Lanka), and Oceania (Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the Solomon Islands.) It was planted as a plantation crop in Hawaii in 1918 using seeds from Australia and has since become naturalized.
  2. Toona sinensis is traded as CHINESE MAHOGANY. It is native to China, South East Tibet, Java, Malaysia, Nepal, India, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Sumatra, Borneo, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Myanmar and Bhutan. It has also been introduced into Taiwan, Korea, Sri Lanka and Tropical Africa.
  3. Toona sureni is traded as INDONESIAN MAHOGANY, VIETNAMESE MAHOGANY, or SUREN. It is native to Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. It is important to differentiate between the term “Indonesian Mahogany” as Toona and “Indonesian Mahogany” as plantation-grown Swietenia.
  4. Toona calantis is traded as PHILIPPINE MAHOGANY or CALANTAS. It is native to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines. There are felling restrictions in place in some countries. It is mostly available commercially as veneer.

IMPORTANT. “Philippine Mahogany” is also a generic term used in the USA carpentry trade and internationally to describe timbers from the Shorea genus which consists of 196 species in the Dipterocarpaceae family native to much of Asia. 148 of the 196 species are threatened with habitat loss and have varying degrees of trade restrictions. It is possible to confuse this term, being that “Philippine Mahogany” could be 1) a species of Shorea, 2) native Toona, 3) the national tree of the Philippines Pterocarpus indicus (see following) or 4) plantation-grown Swietenia.

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Spanish Cedar

Cedrela odorataCedrela is a Mahogany family genus with seven species found throughout South America and the Caribbean and with one species in Mexico. Botanically Cedrela is the equivalent of Australasian Toona except that it is native to the neo-tropics. As with Swietenia, all Cedrela is susceptible to Hypsipyla attack. Woods from Columbia and Peru were added to CITES Appendix III in 2001. Wood from Guatemala was added to Appendix III in 2008. Bolivia requested its three species be added to Appendix III in 2010, followed by Brazil in 2011. 

  1. Cedrela odorata is traded as SPANISH CEDAR, CEDRO or BRAZILIAN MAHOGANY and is the major species. It is native to Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago. Cedrela odorata was for a long time a very important Latin American timber, second to Swietenia. It was commonly used for making cigar boxes but it was also used for light construction, joinery, mouldings, panelling, louvered doors, boat building, furniture, cabinet work, weatherboards, boxes, household implements, musical instruments, carvings, veneer, plywood, turnery and matchboxes. As a tonewood it has been used for necks, tops and sides of classical and flamenco guitars, and as a veneer, cap, or body for electric guitars. It is listed on the IUCN Red List as “vulnerable.” Figures for 2002-2011 show that Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru were the largest exporters of Cedrela odorata for the period and the largest importers were USA, Mexico, Argentina, and Canada. For the same period Spain was the largest European importer followed by France and United Kingdom with imports from Brazil (72%) and Peru (17%.) In 2013 Guatemala was the largest local exporter of Cedrela odorata to the United States.
  2. Cedrela fissilis (CEDRO MISIONERO) is native to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela and is sometimes used interchangeably with Cedrela odorata. This species is nearly extinct and listed on the IUCN Red List as “endangered.” 
  3. Cedrela lilloi, (CEDRO DE TUCUMÁN) is native to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Peru and has sometimes been used interchangeably with Cedrela odorata. This species is nearly extinct and is listed on the IUCN Red List as “endangered.”
  4. Cedrela montana is native to the Andes mountain range that runs through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. There is no significant export trade of this species. 
  5. Cedrela oaxacensis is the one species native to Mexico. There is no significant export trade of this species. 
  6. Cedrela salvadorensis is native to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Panama. There is no significant export trade of this species.
  7. Cedrela tonduzii is native to Mexico, Panama, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. There is no significant export trade of this species.

ASIA & OCEANIA: Cedrela odorata has been introduced into Southeast Asia and Oceania, specifically Australia (1987), China (Guangdong province), Fiji (1960s), Hawaii (1910), Indonesia (19??), Malaysia (19??), Papua New Guinea (1959), Philippines (1915), Singapore (19??), Solomon Islands (1985), Sri Lanka (ca 1990), and Vietnam (1988.) Plantations in Southeast Asia are of small scale and most of the timber is consumed locally, however China was a major exporter of Cedrela odorata to the United States in 2013, having re-exported it from wood obtained elsewhere.

AFRICA: Cedrela odorata was introduced into Africa as far back as 1898 in Ghana as well as in Tanzania in 1911 and Nigeria in 1929. Timber plantations were established in Côte d’Ivoire (1963), Ghana (1922), Uganda (1970), Tanzania (1970), Madagascar (19??) and South Africa (19??). In 2013, Ghana was the major African exporter of Cedrela odorata to the United States.

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SAPELE (also spelled SAPELLI), botanical name Entandrophragma cylindricum, is one of 11 species of Entandrophragma, a Mahogany family tree native to tropical Africa. It is the main commercial species. As a tonewood it is used for backs and sides of acoustic guitars and tops of electric guitars. It is identifiable by having sweeping, striped grain and varies in colour from reddish to purple-brown. Its sound properties are very close to Swietenia mahogany and it is stronger than Khaya. Other uses include furniture, cabinetry, flooring, boat building and plywood. Since the early 2000s General Motors USA has been using Sapele laminates as interior wood trim on some Cadillac car models. The USA imports large quantities of Sapele from Cameroon. Other major exporters are Congo, Ivory Coast and Ghana. Sapele is not listed in the CITES Appendices but is now listed on the IUCN Red List as “vulnerable.” Some countries have their own protected populations and felling restrictions in place.

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Sipo / Utile

UtileSIPO, botanical name Entandrophragma utile is the second of the eleven species of African Entandrophragma. It is also commonly traded as UTILE. Its properties are slightly more closer to Swietenia than it’s Sapelli sibling although visually it is usually slightly less grained. As with Sapelli, it is also used as a tonewood. Utile is otherwise used for furniture, exterior joinery, construction and boat building. It is more popular in Europe than the United States where instead Sapelli is the dominant of the two. It is native to western and central Africa and is obtained mainly from the Central African Republic, Congo and Ghana. Europe is the main export market. It is listed on the IUCN Red List as “vulnerable.” In Uganda it is almost extinct due to overlogging and exploitation.

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TiamaTIAMA, botanical name Entandrophragma angolense is the third of eleven species of Entandrophragma occurring throughout western, central and southern Africa. It also known as TIAMA MAHOGANY or GEDU NOHOR. Its colour is brown, often with a purple tint. The wood is used for exterior and interior joinery, furniture, cabinet work, veneer and plywood, and is also used in Africa for flooring, interior trim, panelling, stairs, ship building, vehicle bodies and coffins. It is suitable for light construction, musical instruments, toys, novelties, boxes, crates, carvings and turnery. As a tonewood it has the same uses as Sapeli or Sipo and is around the same price. It is exported mainly from Cameroon, Congo, Gabon and Ghana. Most Tiama is exported to Europe. It is included in the IUCN Red list as “vulnerable.”

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KOSIPO, botanical name Entandrophragma candollei is the fourth of eleven species of Entandrophragma native to western and central Africa. Wood from this species is used for construction, flooring, exterior and interior joinery, boat building, furniture, cabinet work, toys, boxes, crates and plywood. It is reddish-brown in colour and due to its resemblance to Sapele it is considered a cheaper alternative to the other more expensive Entandrophragma species. It is exported mainly from Republic of Congo, Gabon and Ghana. It is included in the IUCN Red list as “vulnerable.”

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Mountain Mahogany / Bottle Tree

Mountain MahoganyMOUNTAIN MAHOGANY, (also traded as BOTTLE TREE or WOODEN BANANA) botanical name Entandrophragma caudatum is the fifth of the eleven species of African Entandrophragma occurring in South Africa (Transvaal, KwaZulu-Natal), Namibia, Swaziland, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and southern Malawi. It’s wood is reddish brown or dark brown and can have nice figure. It is used locally for furniture, cabinet work and canoes. There is no commercial trade of this timber as supply is limited, one reason being that the trees are usually not large enough to yield desirable timber. NOTE: This species is not to be confused with the tree found in California USA, species Cercocarpus, which is unrelated to the mahogany family genus but is also called Mountain Mahogany.

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Pink Mahogany / Bosse

Guarea thompsoniiGuarea is a Mahogany family genus with 71 species native to Africa and Central and Latin America. Guarea cedrata and Guarea thompsonii are native to Africa and are also traded as BOSSE, GUAREA or CEDAR MAHOGANY. Both are found in Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, and Nigeria. Timber from both species resembles Khaya in appearance. Botanically they are  very close to Sapelli (Entandrophragma cylindricum.) The wood is valued for house building, flooring, joinery, interior trim, panelling, window frames, doors, ship building, vehicle bodies, furniture, cabinet work, decorative boxes, crates, veneer and plywood. It is suitable for musical instruments, toys, novelties, carving and turnery. It is sometimes used in the manufacturing of acoustic guitars. Some exports occur from Gabon.

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American Muskwood / Cramantree / Marapolan 

Guarea grandifoliaAMERICAN MUSKWOOD, botanical name Guarea grandifolia (recently renamed Guarea Guidonia) is one of the 71 species of Guarea native from Mexico through to Panama as well as Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, and Guyana in South America. It is also traded as CRAMANTREE and MARAPOLAN. Timber uses include cabinet making, construction, decorative veneer, funiture, shipbuilding, turnery, plywood and fuel.

Another Latin American species Guarea glabra is also known as AMERICAN MUSKWOOD or ALLIGATOR WOOD and has the same timber uses as Guarea grandifolia.

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East Indian Mahogany / Chickrassy

EAST INDIAN MAHOGANY, botanical name: Chukrasia tabularis, is a single-species Mahogany family tree native to Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. Other trade names include: BURMESE ALMONWOOD, CHICKRASSY, CHITTAGONG WOOD, INDIAN MAHOGANY, BASTARD CEDAR, and WHITE CEDAR. In tropical Asia the wood is highly prized for high-grade cabinet work, decorative panelling, interior joinery such as doors, windows and light flooring, and for carving, toys and turnery. It is also used for light to medium-heavy construction work, e.g. for posts, beams, scantlings and planks, and for railway sleepers, ship and boat building, furniture, musical instruments (especially pianos), packing cases, sporting goods, truck bodies, mallet heads, anvil blocks, implements, rifle butts, veneer and pulp. Botanically it is very close to Cedrela and Toona. Small exports originate from Myanmar and India. It has been introduced into Southern Africa and the Caribbean. 

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Royal Mahogany / Andiroba

Royal MahoganyROYAL MAHOGANY is the U.S trade name for Carapa guianensis, a Mahogany family tree native to Central and South America. There are three species in the genus, two of which are native to Central and South America and the third which is native to Africa. Other English names include CRABWOOD, ANDIROBA, DEMERARA MAHOGANY, and BASTARD MAHOGANY. Its heartwood has colour varying from light salmon to reddish-brown that darkens with time to a medium to dark shade. It is an ideal timber for furniture, cabinetry, mouldings, windows and doors, joinery, panelling, and medium to light construction and as a mahogany substitute. It has a similar appearance to Swietenia, often with more “swirl” to the grain. Botanically it is very close to Swietenia and Khaya. It is an important export timber from Brazil. It is used throughout South America as a tonewood, especially for acoustic guitars and ukuleles. There are no restrictions on this species.

The other South American species, Carapa megistocarpa, is native to Ecuador and is called TANGARE. The Ecuadorian species is endangered.

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African Crabwood / Okoto

AFRICAN CRABWOOD, botanical name Carapa procera is the third species of Carapa, and the one species native to Africa. It is also known as OKOTO. It’s local timber names include DONA (Ivory Coast) and KRABISI (Ghana.) Carapa procera is limited to some extremely remote regions of West Africa. Its density does not exceed a few trees per hectare. The fruit and bark of this species are used as a topical medicine for many ailments and conditions. Local timber uses include carpentry, general construction, musical instruments and toys. This species is not exported and carries no restrictions.

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CancharanaCANGERANA or CAJARANA, botanical name: Cabralea canjerana is a Mahogany family tree found only in South America and pretty much unknown to the rest of the world. It has no equivalent English name. There is not even an English Wikipedia entry for it. It is a single species genus native to Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Widely available in Brazil, it is used in local general carpentry, furniture, interior construction, carvings and joinery. Its colour is usually a dull red or maroon often with purplish markings. Many South American luthiers use it for bodies and necks of electric guitars. Gibson Guitar Corp used this wood for the tops of their Les Paul “Smartwood” models in 1998. 

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Chinaberry / Ceylon Mahogany

chinaberryCHINABERRY, botanical name: Melia azedarach, is one of 3 species of Melia and is also known as CEYLON MAHOGANY, BEAD-TREE, CAPE LILAC, and WHITE CEDAR. It is a Mahogany family tree native to Pakistan, India, China, South East Asia and Australia that yields a high quality reddish-brown timber used in Asia to manufacture agricultural implements, furniture, plywood, boxes, poles, tool handles etc. It is used in cabinet making and in construction because of its resistance to termites. Its fruit are poisonous to humans and animals. It is suitable as a tonewood and can be used for bodies and necks of electric guitars. There is no commercial trade in it at this time as it is considered invasive and for this reason is commercially ignored. Outside of Asia it is of interest mainly to hobbyists.

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Avodire / African White Mahogany

AVODIRE, species Turraeanthus africana is a Mahogany family tree native to Africa, specifically Angola, Benin, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Uganda. It also goes by the English names AFRICAN WHITE MAHOGANY or AFRICAN SATINWOOD. It is the lightest coloured Mahogany family timber being a cream or pale yellow and can have figure. It’s timber is used mostly as veneer, but the wood is suitable for cabinetry, furniture, decorative items, and plywood. It is also used as a tonewood, especially pieces that have a curly figure. Acoustically it is similar to mahogany but brighter. It is not an expensive wood and has no restrictions. It is a significant export timber from Côte d’Ivoire.

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Natal Mahogany / Cape Mahogany

Natal MahoganyTrichilia emetica, known locally as NATAL MAHOGANY or CAPE MAHOGANY, is one of four African species of Trichilia, a Mahogany family tree native to Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Only two of the four African species have timber uses. Its wood is a pinkish colour. For a hardwood it is quite soft. Timber uses include carvings, traditional folk musical instruments, household implements, furniture, bats and canoes. The oil is used locally as a topical medicine. Mafura butter is a moisturizing cream made from the seeds and is a popular hair and skin care product in Africa.

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Forest Mahogany

Natal MahoganyFOREST MAHOGANY, botanic name Trichilia dregeana is the second of the four African tree species of Trichilia, two of which have timber uses. It is occurs from Cote D’Ivoire to Ethiopia, south to Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It grows in coastal and mountainous evergreen forests, hence the name. The tree is also grown to provide shade for coffee plantations. In Southern Africa its wood is commonly used for carving as well as for indoor furniture, household utensils, shelving, construction, dugout canoes, musical instruments, firewood, and for making charcoal. Its seeds, oil, leaves, root and bark have similar medicinal uses to those of Trichilia emetica. Seeds specificially are harvested on a commercial scale from wild trees for the industrial production of pharmaceutical products, and for making soaps, candles and cosmetics.

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BroomstickBROOMSTICK, botanical name Trichilia hirta is one of some 70 species of Trichillia, a Mahogany family genus which is native to West Indies and ranges from Mexico through Central America to Brazil and Bolivia in South America. There are 43 species alone in Brazil. It has many local Spanish names. It’s colour varies from pink, brown to yellow depending on where it is grown. Most American species are listed on the IUCN Red List Of Endangered species as “vulnerable” or “endangered” although Trichilia hirta is not. Its timber has been used for oars, broom handles, and local carpentry as well as for fuel, stakes, and fence posts.

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Amoora / Pacific Maple

Aglaia is a Mahogany family genus consisting of 120 species ranging from India, China, South East Asia, Papua New Guinea, to northern Australia, and Oceania. There are over 50 species alone in Philippines and in Papua New Guinea. Some species have timber uses and others are small trees or shrubs which bear edible fruit, or yield oils for medicines and pharmaceuticals. The wood colour ranges from almost white to walnut brown, depending on the species. There are almost as many trade names as there are species, the main ones being AMOORA (Australia, Papua New Guinea), PACIFIC MAPLE (USA and UK), BEKAK (Malyasia) and KATO (Philippines) for those that yield timber. The principal timber species is Aglaia cucullata, native to Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Papua New Guinea. Other major timber species within the genus are: Aglaia argentea, native to Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Thailand; Aglaia spectabilis, native to Australia, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Thailand and Vietnam; and Aglaia silvestris, native to Cambodia, India (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Thailand and Vietnam. Timber uses include general construction, boat building, furniture, internal and external joinery, panelling, rifle butts, axe handles, canoe planking and paddles, and veneer. International exports occur mainly from Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

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Brown Mahogany

BROWN MAHOGANY, botanical name Lovoa trichilioides is one of two species of Lovoa a Mahogany family tree found in Angola, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Uganda. It is also traded as AFRICAN WALNUT and DIBETOU. Wood from this species is highly valued for furniture, cabinet work, flooring, carpentry, joinery, interior trim, stairways, panelling and veneer, and plywood. In Africa it is used for house construction, vehicle bodies, implements and handles, and to make canoes. It is suitable for ship building, sporting goods, musical instruments (especially pianos), toys, novelties, railway sleepers, carving, boxes, crates, turnery and as pulpwood. Small exports originate from Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, and Congo.

It’s other species, Lovoa swynnertonii is also called KILAMANJARO MAHOGANY and occurs in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Its wood has been used for similar purposes but has been subject to heavy exploitation in many regions and is rare almost everywhere in its distribution area. It is listed as “near threatened” in the IUCN Red list. Plantations have been unsuccessful because of infestation by Hypsipyla robusta.

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Hard Cedar Mahogany

HARD CEDAR MAHOGANY, botanical name Pseudocedrela kotschyi is a single Mahogany family species occurring in the tropical zone of central Africa, from Senegal east to western Ethiopia and Uganda. It is also called DRY-ZONE CEDAR. Wood from this species is valued locally for high-class joinery, furniture and cabinet making, and for construction. It is also used locally for doors, windows, frames, drums, barrels, canoes, mortars, bowls and gun-stocks. It is suitable for flooring, interior trim, ship building, vehicle bodies, musical instruments, toys, novelties, carvings, turnery, veneer and plywood. The wood is also used as firewood and for charcoal production. It is visually similar to other mahoganies, particularly Khaya senegalensis, but is heavier and harder. There appears to be no international trade in this wood.

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New Zealand Mahogany / Kohekohe

KohekoheNEW ZEALAND MAHOGANY, botanic name: Dysoxylum spectibile is a Mahogany family species native to New Zealand and is one of the 80 species of Dysoxylum which is endemic to much of Asia and Oceania. Its local name is KOHEKOHE. It grows mainly in North Island and northern parts of South Island. New Zealand mahogany is softer than other Mahogany family timbers and is used in general carpentry. It has been used by at least one New Zealand luthier as a tonewood for acoustic guitars. A major threat to this species as well as many other native plants and trees are possums which were introduced from Australia in 1837. Effective controls have only been in place since 1990. Note, New Zealand Kohekohe should not be confused with the plant of the same name which is native to Hawaii.

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Australian Rose Mahogany

Dysoxylum fraseranumAUSTRALIAN ROSE MAHOGANY, botanical name: Dysoxylum fraserianum is an Australian Mahogany family species native to New South Wales and Queensland. It is one of the 80 species of Dysoxylum found throughout south east Asia and Oceania. This species is more often called ROSEWOOD in Australia. Its timber is a red-brown colour. I have seen it used as a body wood in Australia-made guitars. Another eastern Australian variant Dysoxylum mollissimum subsp. molle is a rainforest tree known as MIVA MAHOGANY, RED BEAN or ONIONWOOD. Both species are used for furniture, plywood, shop and office fixtures, carving, turnery, and joinery.

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Cape Ash

CAPE ASH, botanical name Ekebergia capensis  is an African Mahogany family tree native to Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. There are four species in the genus. It’s colour is straw to light-brown. It is not a very good quality wood and is quite light. It is a popular street tree in South Africa, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. There is no international trade in its timber however it is used locally for furniture, light construction, poles, tool handles, panelling, beams for boat building, sides of wagons, doors, windows, carving, interior carpentry and broom handles.

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Scentless Rosewood

Scentless RosewoodSynoum glandulosum is a single Australian Mahogany family species called SCENTLESS ROSEWOOD, BASTARD ROSEWOOD, or RED SYCAMORE which is native to eastern New South Wales and eastern Queensland. It is red to reddish-brown and is botanically very close to the native Australian species of Toona. Timber from this species is used in local construction as sawn timber for general house framing, flooring, mouldings and joinery. It is also used for furniture, shop and office fixtures, panelling, turnery, carving, as structural plywood, scaffold planks, wood wool, paper products, particleboard, and medium density fibreboard. It is not considered a first class timber and I am unaware of this being used specifically as a tonewood for musical instruments.

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Read Part 3: “Non Mahoganies Traded as Mahogany”

Latest revision, 27 February 2016
©2017 Gaskell Guitars Australia

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