Mahogany
Overview
 
The name mahogany is used when referring to numerous varieties of dark-colored hardwood. It is a native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 word originally used for the wood of the species Swietenia mahagoni
Swietenia mahagoni
Swietenia mahagoni, commonly known as the West Indies Mahogany, is a species of Swietenia native to southern Florida, USA, The Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, and Hispaniola. It is the species from which the original mahogany wood was produced....

, known as West Indian or Cuban mahogany.

The term was next applied to the wood of Swietenia macrophylla
Swietenia macrophylla
Swietenia macrophylla, commonly known as big leaf mahogany, is a species of plant in the Meliaceae family. It is one of two species that yields genuine mahogany timber, the other being Swietenia mahagoni....

, which is closely related, and known as Honduras mahogany. Both are from the Meliaceae
Meliaceae
The Meliaceae, or the Mahogany family, is a flowering plant family of mostly trees and shrubs in the order Sapindales....

 family.

Today, all species of Swietenia
Swietenia
Swietenia is a genus of trees in the chinaberry family, Meliaceae. It occurs natively in the Neotropics, from southern Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America south to Bolivia...

grown in their native locations are listed by CITES, and are therefore protected.
Encyclopedia
The name mahogany is used when referring to numerous varieties of dark-colored hardwood. It is a native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 word originally used for the wood of the species Swietenia mahagoni
Swietenia mahagoni
Swietenia mahagoni, commonly known as the West Indies Mahogany, is a species of Swietenia native to southern Florida, USA, The Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, and Hispaniola. It is the species from which the original mahogany wood was produced....

, known as West Indian or Cuban mahogany.

The term was next applied to the wood of Swietenia macrophylla
Swietenia macrophylla
Swietenia macrophylla, commonly known as big leaf mahogany, is a species of plant in the Meliaceae family. It is one of two species that yields genuine mahogany timber, the other being Swietenia mahagoni....

, which is closely related, and known as Honduras mahogany. Both are from the Meliaceae
Meliaceae
The Meliaceae, or the Mahogany family, is a flowering plant family of mostly trees and shrubs in the order Sapindales....

 family.

Today, all species of Swietenia
Swietenia
Swietenia is a genus of trees in the chinaberry family, Meliaceae. It occurs natively in the Neotropics, from southern Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America south to Bolivia...

grown in their native locations are listed by CITES, and are therefore protected. Both Swietenia mahagoni, and Swietenia macrophylla were introduced into several Asian countries at the time of the restrictions imposed on American mahogany in the late 1990s and both are now successfully grown and harvested in plantations in those countries. The world's supply of genuine mahogany today comes from these Asian plantations, notably from India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 and from Fiji
Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

, in Oceania.

Species of Swietenia cross-fertilise readily when they grow in proximity; the hybrid between S. mahagoni and S. macrophylla is widely planted for its timber. Mahogany is the national tree of Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

 and Belize
Belize
Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

. It also appears on the national seal of Belize
Belize
Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

.

"Mahogany" may refer to the largest group of all Meliaceae, the fifteen related species of Swietenia, Khaya
Khaya
Khaya is a genus of seven species of trees in the mahogany family Meliaceae, native to tropical Africa and Madagascar. All species become big trees 30-35 m tall, rarely 45 m, with a trunk over 1 m trunk diameter, often buttressed at the base...

and Entandrophragma
Entandrophragma
Entandrophragma is a genus of eleven species of deciduous trees in the mahogany family Meliaceae, restricted to tropical Africa. At least some of the species attain large sizes, reaching 40-50 m tall, exceptionally 60 m, and 2 m in trunk diameter. The leaves are pinnate, with 5-9 pairs of leaflets,...

. The timbers of Entandrophragma are sold under their individual names, sometimes with "mahogany" attached as a suffix, for example "sipo" may be referred to as "sipo mahogany". Kohekohe
Kohekohe
Kohekohe is a medium-sized tree native to New Zealand. It is found in lowland and coastal forests throughout most of North Island and also occurs in the Marlborough Sounds in the north of the South Island. Mature trees grow up to 15m in height, with a trunk up to a metre in diameter...

 (Dysoxylum spectabile), a close relative, is sometimes called New Zealand Mahogany.

The term "genuine mahogany" applies to only the Swietenia mahoganies, wherever grown. The term "true mahogany" applies to any timber commercially called "mahogany" with or without qualification that is derived from the Meliaceae family. In addition to Swietenia mahoganies this applies also to Khaya
Khaya
Khaya is a genus of seven species of trees in the mahogany family Meliaceae, native to tropical Africa and Madagascar. All species become big trees 30-35 m tall, rarely 45 m, with a trunk over 1 m trunk diameter, often buttressed at the base...

(African Mahogany) and Toona
Toona
Toona is a genus of five species of trees in the mahogany family, Meliaceae, native from Afghanistan south to India, and east to North Korea, Papua New Guinea and eastern Australia...

(Chinese Mahogany) which are both from the Meliacae (Mahogany) family.

In addition, the US timber trade also markets various other FTC
Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1914 by the Federal Trade Commission Act...

-defined species as "mahoganies" under a variety of different commercial names, most notably "Philippine mahogany
Philippine mahogany
Philippine mahogany is a common name for several different species of trees and their wood.*Botanically, the name refers to the species Toona calantas in the mahogany family Meliaceae....

", which in reality is actually from the genus Shorea
Shorea
Shorea is a genus of about 196 species of mainly rainforest trees in the family Dipterocarpaceae. The genus is named after Sir John Shore, the Governor-General of the British East India Company, 1793-1798. They are native to southeast Asia, from Northern India to Malaysia, Indonesia and the...

, a dipterocarp. This wood is also known as Lauan or Meranti.

Uses

Mahogany has a generally straight grain and is usually free of voids and pockets. It has a reddish-brown color, which darkens over time, and displays a reddish sheen when polished. It has excellent workability, and is very durable. Historically, the tree's girth allowed for wide boards from traditional mahogany species. These properties make it a favorable wood for crafting cabinets and furniture.

Much of the first-quality furniture made in the American colonies from the mid 18th century was made of mahogany, when the wood first became available to American craftsmen. Mahogany is still widely used for fine furniture; however, the rarity of Cuban
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 mahogany and over harvesting of Honduras
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

 and Brazilian
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 mahogany has diminished their use. Mahogany also resists wood rot, making it attractive in boat construction. It is also often used for musical instruments, particularly the backs, sides and necks of acoustic guitars and drums shells because of its ability to produce a very deep, warm tone compared to other commonly used woods such as Maple
Maple
Acer is a genus of trees or shrubs commonly known as maple.Maples are variously classified in a family of their own, the Aceraceae, or together with the Hippocastanaceae included in the family Sapindaceae. Modern classifications, including the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group system, favour inclusion in...

 or Birch
Birch
Birch is a tree or shrub of the genus Betula , in the family Betulaceae, closely related to the beech/oak family, Fagaceae. The Betula genus contains 30–60 known taxa...

. Guitars featuring mahogany in their construction include Martin D-18 and Gibson Les Paul
Gibson Les Paul
The Gibson Les Paul was the result of a design collaboration between Gibson Guitar Corporation and the late jazz guitarist and electronics inventor Les Paul. In 1950, with the introduction of the Fender Telecaster to the musical market, electric guitars became a public craze. In reaction, Gibson...

 models.

Mahogany is now being used for the bodies of high-end stereo
STEREO
STEREO is a solar observation mission. Two nearly identical spacecraft were launched into orbits that cause them to respectively pull farther ahead of and fall gradually behind the Earth...

 phonograph
Phonograph
The phonograph record player, or gramophone is a device introduced in 1877 that has had continued common use for reproducing sound recordings, although when first developed, the phonograph was used to both record and reproduce sounds...

ic record cartridges and for stereo headphones
Headphones
Headphones are a pair of small loudspeakers, or less commonly a single speaker, held close to a user's ears and connected to a signal source such as an audio amplifier, radio, CD player or portable Media Player. They are also known as stereophones, headsets or, colloquially, cans. The in-ear...

, where it is noted for “warm” or “musical” sound.
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