Mahogany, the name applied to several tropical hardwood trees. The typical mahogany tree is an evergreen that reaches a height of 100 feet (30 m) and has a trunk measuring 3 to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 m) in diameter at the base. The leaves are shaped like feathers and the small white flowers grow in clusters. The fruit, a woody capsule about four inches (10 cm) long, contains two-inch (5-cm) winged seeds.
Mahogany wood is golden to reddish brown, close-grained, and fine-textured. It is extremely strong, of medium weight and hardness, and is little affected by termites or decay organisms. The wood is easy to work and takes a beautiful finish. Mahogany is used for building boats and for furniture construction and veneers.
Tropical American, or Spanish, mahogany is found from southern Mexico to the upper Amazon. It is used chiefly for lumber. Tropical American mahogany from Central America (called Honduras mahogany) is used for both lumber and veneer. African mahogany, a golden brown, intricately figured wood, grows in Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria. It is used chiefly for veneers. West Indian mahogany is a silky-textured, close-grained wood. It is little used today.
Tropical American mahogany is Swietenia macrophylla; African, Khaya senegalensis, K. ivorensis, and K. grandis; West Indian, S. mahogani. All belong to the mahogany family, Meliaceae.