What is Mahogany? Part 2: Mahogany other than Swietenia
Swietenia (American mahogany) is not the only genus in the Meliaceae (Mahogany) family that yields high quality timber. The Meliaceae family consists of 49 genera with approximately 550 species. 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. This article addresses Mahogany family genera other than Swietenia that have recognized timber uses. 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. While there are biological differences between Mahogany genera and species, some are almost indistinguishable from Swietenia in both appearance and properties. Persons criticizing these other genera or species as "not real mahogany" or implying some "inferiority" or "falsity" exists just because it is not Swietenia is simply demonstrating their lack of understanding of Biology and ignorance of Science. One can assign a name to anything but a name doesn't change the physiology, molecular biology, cell biology, development, genetics, systematics, ecology, evolution, ecophysiology, plant-microbe interactions, and mycology of that substance. Persons asserting such "mahogany snobbery" should simply be ignored and their opinions considered of no value until they learn and change.
Non-Swietenia mahoganies include:
Khaya (AFRICAN MAHOGANY)
Khaya is a Mahogany family genus native to temperate Africa and Madagascar. It has five species, four of which are endemic to Africa and the other endemic to Madagascar. All species are collectively traded under the name AFRICAN MAHOGANY. 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 Swietenia alternative. It is popular in the international furniture trade today and it is equally sought after as a tone wood, especially for the sides and backs of acoustic guitars and necks of electric guitars. Khaya logs were first exported to Britain in 1833 from Côte d’Ivoire. Exports from Ghana began in 1888. Exports also originate from Cameroon and Gabon. The United States is the largest importer of this wood with Ghana, Cameroon, and Congo being the largest suppliers. Variations in trade names are usually determined by where it is sourced. The mahogany shoot borer Hypsipyla robusta is a major threat in Khaya plantations. Commercial exploitation of wild populations of Khaya for the international timber market is considered an ongoing, primary threat to the genus. All Khaya species were assessed as globally threatened in the IUCN Red List in 1998 on the basis of unsustainable harvest for timber. In October 2022 all species of African Khaya were proposed to be added to CITES Appendix II thereafter requiring permits to trade logs, sawn wood, veneer sheets, plywood and transformed wood. This was enacted in March 2023.
HEAVY AFRICAN MAHOGANY
Khaya grandifoliola is native to Benin, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Sudan, Togo, and Uganda. The duration of the planting-to-harvest rotation is 40 years, to reach 60 cm in diameter. Khaya grandifoliola is included in the IUCN Red list as a "vulnerable" due to commercial exploitation. Khaya grandifoliola timber is sometimes exported from West African countries in mixed consignments with other Khaya species, particularly Khaya anthotheca and Khaya ivorensis.
DRY ZONE MAHOGANY
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. It may also be traded as DRY ZONE MAHOGANY. Logs have been exported from West Africa since the early 1800s, especially from Gambia, however it has been heavily exploited for its timber since then and is no longer a major export species, although occasionally it can be included in mixed Khaya exports. 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), Brazil (1990s from trees planted in the 1970s), Thailand (2000), Vietnam, and northern Australia (1960’s and 1990’s.) Plantations in Australia today exceed 14,000 hectares.
Khaya ivorensis which is native to Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, and Nigeria is also called LAGOS MAHOGANY. It has been introduced into Angola, Central African Republic, Guinea, and Togo. K. Ivorensis may be exported with other Kaya species in mixed consignments. Plantations have been established outside of its natural range in Fiji, Indonesia and Malaysia. In northern Brazil K. ivorensis was planted at the same time as the K. senegalensis plantations were established in the 1990s. In 2020 it was reported that Khaya plantations in northern Brazil amounted to about 50,000 hectares.
Khaya madagascariensis is found in Madagascar and Comoros and is often simply called MADAGASCAR MAHOGANY. This species is included in the IUCN Red List as “endangered.” There is no international trade in this species of Khaya.
Khaya anthotheca grows in Angola, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique and is also known as ACAJOU D’AFRIQUE, SMOOTH-BARKED MAHOGANY, and EAST AFRICAN MAHOGANY. It’s appearance is indistinguishable from Khaya ivorensis. It is also grown in plantations in Southern Africa, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and in some Asian countries, mainly Indonesia (1950s), with varying success. Khaya anthotheca wood is exported from West African countries (e.g. Ghana) in mixed consignments with other Khaya species, particularly Khaya ivorensis.
The wood of K. senegalensis and K. grandifoliola resembles Swietenia more closely than the wood of K. anthotheca and K. ivorensis, but they both are heavier and harder. All native species are currently under inspection by CITES for recommending restrictions.
http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/32172/0 (K. grandifoliola)
http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/32234/0 (K. ivorensis)
http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/32171/0 (K. senegalensis)
http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/32235/0 (K. anthotheca)
http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/34888/0 (K. madagascariensis)
Toona is a Mahogany family tree native throughout eastern Europe, northern Asia, South East Asia, and Australia. Botanically it is the equivalent of Cedrela which is otherwise native to Central and South America. There are four Toona species (some sources say five), each with their own trade names. Timber from the Asian species are often just called TOON or SURIAN no matter the species. The Australian species is almost always called RED CEDAR. 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. There are felling restrictions in place in some countries. It can be used as a genuine mahogany replacement and has been used in the manufacturing of electric guitars where "mahogany" is specified. Toona is quite similar to Swietenia sonically but lighter in weight.
Toona ciliata is traded as INDIAN MAHOGANY, TOON, 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 is no longer commercially available. The Chinese species was declared endangered in 2015. T. ciliata appears to be the main commercial species exported from Asia with Indonesia being the largest exporter. Since the early 20th Century it has been introduced into several countries in Africa (Republic of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania) and has become naturalized in southern Africa. It has also been introduced into 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 there. Domestically the wood is used for carvings, boat building, cabinet making, cigar boxes, matchboxes, decorative plywood and veneer, food containers, high-grade furniture, interior trim, joinery, musical instruments, ornamental work, panelling, boxes and crates, building materials, exterior uses, millwork, and mouldings. In Australia it was a highly regarded timber for the manufacture of light-weight racing boats, particularly sailing boats and dinghies.
Toona sinensis is traded as SURIAN, SUREN, CHINESE CEDAR, and 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. Its local Chinese name is 香椿. Toon leaves are used as a condiment in Chinese and Malaysian dishes and are rich in nutrients. For over 2000 years its leaves, bark, and seeds, have been used extensively in Chinese medicine. Domestically its timber it is sometimes used for joinery, furniture and cabinetwork, decorative veneers, racing boats, bridge construction, musical instruments, and patternmaking. Excessive logging in recent times has made it harder to source specifically. I used to use this as my mahogany replacement in the late 2000s. With genuine mahogany no longer available, Toona became "the next best thing" and Asian-made guitars specified as being made of "mahogany" were made with Toona. In the mid 2010s the Chinese government banned domestic timber production for exportation thus putting an end to musical instrument manufacturing using domestic Toona species. China now exclusively uses and re-exports timber it has imported from other countries. Additionally, trade between African countries and China has become huge during the last 10 years that large quantities of African mahogany (Khaya) are exported from Africa to China. New musical instruments manufactured in China that are said to be made of "mahogany" are now most likely made of African mahogany if not a Toona species imported from other Asian countries, especially Indonesia.
Toona sureni is also traded as BURMA CEDAR in the UK and USA as well as TOON and SURIAN. It is native to Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand, and Timor-Leste. As with its other species it is used for high-class cabinet wood, furniture, interior finishing, decorative panelling, crafts, musical instruments, cigar boxes, veneers, boxes and for construction. It is important to differentiate between the term “Indonesian Mahogany” as Toona and “Indonesian Mahogany” as plantation-grown Swietenia.
CALANTAS / KALANTAS
Toona calantas is usually traded as CALANTAS or sometimes as PHILIPPINE MAHOGANY, if not simply as TOON or SUREN. It is native to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines. Since about 2013 plantations including T. Calantis have been established in the Philippines in former mining locations. It is mainly used for decorative applications such as timber veneers, paneling, joinery and furniture. As hardwood it can be used in boat building, for piano cases, carving, and for guitar necks.
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 , or 4) plantation-grown Swietenia.
http://www.plantnames.unimelb.edu.au/Sorting/Toona.html (includes obsolete species)
Cedrela is a Mahogany family genus with 13 accepted species native to the Carribbean and the Americas. Botanically Cedrela is the equivalent of Australasian Toona except that it is native to the neo-tropics. Deforestation data across its full range indicate that the range has decreased by 28.8% in the last 100 years (approximately three generations); and it is estimated to decline by 40.4% in the next 100 years. The main threat to this species is unsustainable harvest of the timber. All species were added to CITES Appendix II as of 2022.
Cedrela odorata is native to Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago. It is the most common traded Cedrela species. It is also called CEDRO, CUBAN CEDAR, CIGARBOX CEDAR, RED CEDAR, ACAJOU, or BRAZILIAN MAHOGANY. 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. C. odorata was listed on the IUCN Red List as “vulnerable” in 1998 and remains so as of 2017. 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. As of October 2022, all neo-tropic species have been added to CITES Appendix II.
Figures for 2002-2011 show that Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru were the largest exporters of C. 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 C. odorata to the United States.
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 C. odorata to the United States in 2013, having re-exported it from wood obtained elsewhere.
Cedrela odorata was introduced into Africa as far back as 1898 in Ghana as an avenue tree as well as in Tanzania in 1911 and Nigeria in 1905 and 1929. Timber plantations were established in Ghana (1922), Côte d’Ivoire (1963 and 1977), Uganda (1970), Tanzania (1970), Madagascar (19??) and South Africa (19??) It became popular in West African industrial reforestation initiatives but is now considered invasive. In the period 2002-2011 exports of controlled, plantation-grown C. odorata were exported from Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to the United States. In 2013, Ghana was the major African exporter of C. odorata to the United States.
As with Swietenia, all Cedrela is susceptible to Hypsipyla attack.
Cedro fissilis is native to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela. It is known in English as ARGENTINE CEDAR and is known by several Spanish names. Timber uses include plywood, sculptures, models, frames, doors and for turnery and construction. C. fissilis and C. odorata are not easily distinguishable but timber from C. fissilis is thought to be inferior to C. odorata. Despite this it can be sold interchangeably and is sometimes sold in batches with C. odorata. This species was reclassified from "endangered" to "vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List in 2017 despite overall decreasing populations. The Bolivian and Brazilian species were added to CITES Appendix III in 2010 and 2011 respectively. As of 2022 all species of native Cedrela have been downgraded to CITES Appendix II.
CEDRO DE TUCUMÁN
Cedrela angustifolia (formerly Cedro lilloi) is native to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Peru. It has a number of other Spanish names and is sometimes referred as HIGHLAND CEDAR. This species is also nearly extinct and was initially listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as "endangered" in 1998 and was reclassified as "vulnerable" in 2021. Bolivian and Brazilian species were added to CITES Appendix III in 2010 and 2011. It is used domestically in construction and carpentry, to make fine furniture, doors, windows, frames, decorative veneers, turned items, crafts, canoes, as well as musical instruments and household implements. There is no export market beyond South America. As of 2022 all species of native Cedrela have been downgraded to CITES Appendix II.
Cedrela montana is a distinct species native to the Andes mountain range that runs along the western coast of the Amazon basin through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. It is also known in English as MOUNTAIN CEDAR. Timber from this species is considered to be higher quality than other Cedrela species, on par with C. odorata and is in higher demand since restrictions have been imposed on the production of C. odorata. C. montana was classified as "vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List in 2021. Domestically it is mostly used for joinery and carpentry and construction and is otherwise used interchangeably with C. odorata. As of 2022 all species of South American Cedrela have been placed in CITES Appendix II.
Other Cedrela species are: C. oaxacensis, native to Mexico; C. nebulosa, native to the western and eastern Andes (as with C. montana); C. salvadorensis, native to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Panama; and C. tonduzii, native to Mexico, Panama, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Entandrophragma is a genus in the Mahogany family with 11 species, native to tropical Africa. Five of the eleven species have timber uses and are traded individually under different trade names.
Entandrophragma cylindricum is the main commercial timber species commonly known as SAPELE or SAPELLI. 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 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.
SIPO / UTILE
Entandrophragma utile is the second of the eleven species of African Entandrophragma. 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 used as a tone wood, as a direct replacement for Swietenia. 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.
Entandrophragma angolense is the third of the 11 species of Entandrophragma occurring throughout western, central and southern Africa. It also known as TIAMA 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 Sapele 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.”
Entandrophragma candollei is the fourth of the eleven species of Entandrophragma native to western and central Africa. It's vernacular names are WEST AFRICAN CEDAR, HEAVY SAPELE, and HEAVY MAHOGANY. It is traded as KOSIPO or CANDOLLEI. It is also traded as OMU in the U.K. 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.”
Entandrophragma caudatum is the fifth of the eleven species of African Entandrophragma occurring in north eastern South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and southern Malawi. Other trade names include BOTTLE TREE or WOODEN BANANA. 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 sold as "Mountain Mahogany."
Guarea is a Mahogany family genus with 71 species native to Africa and Central and Latin America. Two species in Africa have timber uses and two species in Latin America have timber uses.
Guarea cedrata and Guarea thompsonii are native to Africa and are also traded as PINK MAHOGANY, 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 Entandrophragma cylindricum (Sapele.) 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.
Guarea Guidonia (formerly named Guarea grandifolia) 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. In addition to AMERICAN MUSKWOOD, it is also traded as CRAMANTREE. Timber uses include cabinet making, construction, decorative veneer, funiture, shipbuilding, turnery, plywood and fuel.
The second Latin American species Guarea glabra is also known as AMERICAN MUSKWOOD or distinctly as ALLIGATOR WOOD and has the same timber uses as Guarea grandifolia.
Chukrasia (EAST INDIAN MAHOGANY)
Chukrasia tabularis, is a single-genus/species Mahogany family tree native to Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. It is most commonly known as EAST INDIAN MAHOGANY, or simply INDIA MAHOGANY. Other trade names include: BURMESE ALMONWOOD, CHICKRASSY, CHITTAGONG WOOD,, BASTARD CEDAR, and WHITE CEDAR. Botanically it is very close to Cedrela and Toona. In tropical Asia the wood is used 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. Small exports originate from Myanmar and India. It has been introduced into Southern Africa and the Caribbean.
Carapa is a Mahogany family genus with two species native to Central and South America and one species native to Africa. In addition to timber uses, seeds from the South American trees are used to make Andiroba oil which is a common topical medicine in the Amazon.
"Royal Mahogany" is the U.S trade name for Carapa guianensis, one of the two species of Carapa native to Central and South America. Timber from this species is otherwise sold as 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. Visually, 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 tone wood, especially for acoustic guitars and ukuleles. There are no restrictions on this species.
The second South American species, Carapa megistocarpa, is native to Ecuador and is called TANGARE. The Ecuadorian species is endangered.
http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/45488/0 (C. megistocarpa)
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.
Cabralea canjerana (CANGERANA / CAJARANA)
Cabralea canjerana is a single Mahogany family tree genus/species found only in South America and pretty much unknown to the rest of the world. It has no equivalent English trade name. There is not even an English Wikipedia entry for it. It is a single species genus native to Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. It's local Spanish name is CANGERANA or CAJARANA. 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 Corporation used this wood for the tops of their Les Paul “Smartwood” models in 1998.
Melia is a Mahogany family tree with three species, one which yields high-quality timber but has no commercial or export interest.
Melia azedarach is native to Pakistan, India, China, South East Asia and Australia. It is also known as BEAD-TREE, CAPE LILAC, PERSIAN LILAC, and WHITE CEDAR. This species yields a high quality reddish-brown timber which is used domestically 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. Timber from these trees is suitable as a tonewood and the wood 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.
Turraeanthus africanus (AVODIRE)
Turraeanthus africanus is a single Mahogany family genus/species 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 is most known as AVIDORE but also goes by the English names AFRICAN WHITE MAHOGANY and rarely as 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 tone wood, especially pieces that have a curly figure. Acoustically it is similar to mahogany but brighter. This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as "vulnerable due to a population reduction of over 30% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation." It is a significant export timber from Côte d’Ivoire.
Trichilia is a Mahogany family genus with 70 species, four of which are native to Africa and the remainder 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. Two of the four African species have timber uses and one species of the American species is recognized for its timber uses. Most American species are listed on the IUCN Red List Of Endangered species as “vulnerable” or “endangered.”
Trichilia emetica, known locally as NATAL MAHOGANY, CAPE MAHOGANY, and ETHIOPIAN MAHOGANY is one of four African species of Trichilia, 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. 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. It is also used as a shade tree in gardens and to control erosion. 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. There is no export trade in the timber.
Trichilia dregeana is the second of the four African tree species of Trichilia and the second of two species with 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. There is no international trade of Forest Mahogany.
Trichilia hirta is native to West Indies and ranges from Mexico through Central America to Brazil and Bolivia in South America. It has many local Spanish names and is known in English as BROOMSTICK. The colour of the timber varies from pink, brown to yellow depending on where it is grown. Trichilia hirta has no restrictions and is not one of the species listed on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Its timber has been used for oars, broom handles, and local carpentry as well as for fuel, stakes, and fence posts. There appears to be no export market for this wood.
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.
AMOORA / PACIFIC MAPLE
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: A. argentea, native to Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Thailand; A. spectabilis, native to Australia, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Thailand and Vietnam; and A. 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.
Lovoa is a Mahogany family genus with two species, both native to Africa. Both yield very high quality timber suitable for many uses.
Lovoa trichilioides is found in Angola, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Uganda. It is also traded as AFRICAN WALNUT, TIGERWOOD, 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.
Lovoa swynnertonii 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.
http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/33057/0 (L. trichilioides)
http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/33967/0 (L. swynnertonii)
HARD CEDAR MAHOGANY
Pseudocedrela kotschyi is a single Mahogany family genus/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's bark, roots, and leaves have numerous uses in traditional medicine. In Nigeria the bark is used as an ingredient of arrow poison, and in Côte d’Ivoire as a fish poison. The bark yields a brownish dye that has been used in West Africa for dyeing cloth. 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.
Dysoxylum is a Mahogany family genus consisting of 80 species which is endemic to much of Asia and Oceania.
NEW ZEALAND MAHOGANY
Dysoxylum spectibile is native to New Zealand. 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.
AUSTRALIAN ROSE MAHOGANY
Dysoxylum fraserianum is an Australian Mahogany family species native to New South Wales and Queensland. This species is more often called ROSE WOOD in Australia. Its timber is a red-brown colour and is used for furniture, plywood, shop and office fixtures, carving, turnery, and joinery. I have seen it used as a body wood in some Australia-made guitars.
Ekebergia is an African Mahogany family genus with four species ranging from 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. Only one species has recognized timber uses.
Ekebergia capensis is 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. The timber colour of this tree 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.
SCENTLESS ROSE WOOD
Synoum glandulosum is a single Australian Mahogany family genus and species mainly known as SCENTLESS ROSEWOOD, but also as RED SYCAMORE or BASTARD ROSEWOOD. It is native to eastern New South Wales and north-eastern Queensland. The wood from this species is red to reddish-brown and is botanically very close to Australian Red Cedar (Toona.) Its timber 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 tone wood for musical instruments.