"Mahogany" One Name, Many Species

Here's a rundown on the official species names of the many different trees whose wood is sold as "mahogany".March 29, 2006

Question
I have some lumber that I'm told is African Mahogany (Khaya). I see other species of Mahogany being sold on the web, specifically Santos, Caribbean, and Honduras. Are these all different species?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From Gene Wengert, technical advisor:
Yes, they are different.
African mahogany is in the KHAYA genus.
Honduras mahogany (sometimes called genuine or true mahogany) is SWIETENIA MACROPHYLLA.
Santos mahogany (also called balsamo) is MYROXYLON BALSAMUM.
Philippine mahogany is in the SHOREA genus.
Brazilian mahogany is PLATHYMENIA RETICULATA.
Hawaiian mahogany (also called koa) is ACACIA KOA.
American mahogany (also called Kentucky coffee tree) is GYMNOCLADUS DIOICUS.


Caribbean mahogany, which is extremely rare and should not be harvested or used as such usage will encourage harvesting and the end of this species, is SWIETENIA MAHOGANI.


From the original questioner:
I hope you never plan on retiring, Gene. I hope you had to look that up, as nobody should store all that stuff in their head. Thanks again, for the excellent response.


From Gene Wengert, technical advisor:
Thanks for your comments. Actually, I did have to look up the spelling. Perhaps you know that I have a photographic memory...the only problem is that I ran out of film 30 years ago. Or maybe it was 40? Actually, I write an article for FDM magazine every month that describes a different species and I had just done several of the mahoganies, so it was fairly fresh in my mind.


From contributor A:
I am curious about the reasons for calling Kentucky Coffeetree "American Mahogany". There's not much about that wood that I would identify with other mahogany I have seen, except maybe its color. The grain reminds me more of ash than the fine grain I expect for mahogany. Maybe my experience with other mahoganies is just limited.