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Species – Mahogany

Species Information - Mahogany

Species Information

Mahogany is a straight-grained, reddish-brown timber of three tropical hardwood species of the genus Swietenia. Swietenia is native to the Americas, and is part of the pantropical chinaberry family, Melilaceae. The three tropical hardwood species that encompass the timber “Mahogany” include the Honduran, West Indian (Cuban) and Swietenia humilis. Honduran (big-leaf) Mahogany is the only true commercially grown Mahogany today. West Indian has been limited since World War II, and Swietenia humilis has always been extremely limited as a commercially used product.

Mahogany is the national tree of the Dominican Republic and Belize. In fact, the Mahogany tree is featured on the Belizean national coat of arms, along with the national motto, “Under the Shade I Flourish.”

The origin of the name “Mahogany” is shrouded in mystery. It’s believed that it may be a corruption of the word “m’oganwo,’ which was the name used by the Yoruba and Ibo people of West Africa to describe trees of the genus Khaya. Khaya is closely related to the Swietenia, thus it’s possible that these tribes – when transferred to Jamaica as salves – gave the same name to the trees that looked similar to those in their native lands.

Mahogany is a commercially important lumber. It’s prized for its beauty, durability and color. It’s used for paneling, furniture, instruments, and flooring. It’s also used in boats because of its rot-resistance. It was popularized in guitar making when Gibson used it for its famed collection.

Scientific Names

Origin

The Honduran Mahogany ranges from Mexico to southern Amazonia in Brazil. It’s the most widespread species of Mahogany.

West Indian/Cuban Mahogany is native to Southern Florida and the Caribbean.

Swietenia humilis is found in Pacific Central America.

Janka Rating

As Honduran Mahogany is the most widely used species, its Janka rating is 900.

Mahogany Janka Scale Rating 900

*The Janka rating measures the resistance of a sample of wood to denting and wear. Click Here for more info.

Appearance

The heartwood of Mahogany can vary from a pale, pinkish brown, to reddish brown. The color of Mahogany tends to darken as it ages. It also exhibits an optical phenomenon known as chatoyancy. Chatoyancy makes it appear as though the colors of the wood are changing from different perspectives. Chatoyancy is often referred to in gems; however, Mahogany is famed for this illusion, where the wood grain appears to have a three-dimensional appearance. Chatoyany is also referred to as wood iridescence, moiré, vibrancy, pop-the-grain, or glow.

The grain of Mahogany can be straight, interlocked, irregular or wavy.

Workability

Mahogany is fairly easy to work with and machines well. You may discover some issues with sections possessing featured grain, which can tearout or chip during machining. A slight dulling of cutters can occur. Mahogany sands, turns, glues, stains and finishes easily.

CLICK HERE to view all of our Mahogany hardwood flooring.

Click below for a detailed discription of the different species of hardwood.

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