Mahogany, African


Mahogany, African


Density in kg/m3


The Tree
K. ivorensis grows to a height of 30m or more with a clear bole 12m to 25m in length above the buttresses, and with a diameter of 1.0m upwards to 2.0m or more. The habit of all Khaya species varies considerably with the growth conditions, but the banks of rivers and streams appear to suit the requirements of the species better than drier soils. Thus K. anthotheca is usually not such a good shape as K. ivorensis, and K. grandifoliola is not so tall, and generally has a more crooked growth habit, though it usually attains a larger girth than other species. K. senegalensis is a smaller tree and not so well shaped as the usual types of commercial mahogany. It grows mainly in the deciduous Savannah forests and generally reaches a height of 15m to 24m with a diameter of about 1.0m.

The Timber
African Mahogany ie, K. ivoiensis, K. anthotheca and K. grandifoliola (in part). The heartwood is distinctly pink when freshly sawn, but when seasoned varies in colour from light pinkish-brown to a deep reddish shade; the yellowish-brown sapwood is not always clearly demarcated. The heartwood of K. grandifoliola tends to be darker. The grain is usually interlocked and the texture is of a coarser nature than that of American mahogany. The quality varies with the locality of growth; some localities are said to produce coarse-textured logs with spongy hearts while others are noted for the fine texture and character of their timber. A common feature is the defect known as 'thunder shake' (cross fractures), which are particularly abundant in trees with a soft or 'punky' heart. K. nyasica from East Africa inclines to a reddish or golden-brown shade. Heavy Mahogany: Dry-zone mahogany ie K. senegalensis and K. grandifoliola (in part). The timber of both these species is appreciably denser, and typically darker than ordinary commercial African mahogany, K. senegalensis in particular being deep red-brown with a purple tinge. In respect of grain and texture, there is little difference from the characteristics of African mahogany, but K. grandifoliola is reputed to be of high quality.

African mahogany dries fairly rapidly with generally little degrade. Care should he taken to prevent distortion and splitting, and this aspect is of greater importance when drying heavy mahogany.

The strength of African mahogany compares favourably with that of American mahogany (Swietenia), but is more resistant to splitting. No data is available regarding strength of heavy mahogany although it can be assumed the heavier species are stronger than African mahogany.

Working Qualities
Medium - The lighter material is easy to work but the heavier species are slightly more difficult. They all have a tendency to pick up on quarter-sawn surfaces, due to interlocking grain, and a reduction of cutting angles to 150 helps to overcome this tendency. All species can be glued satisfactorily, and generally have good nailing and screwing properties. Takes a high polish and a good finish.

Latin Name
Khaya spp, Khaya ivorensis, Khaya anthotheca, Khaya grandifoliola, Khaya senegalensis, Khaya nyasica

Also known as
African mahogany, Takoradi, Grand Bassam mahogany, Ghana mahogany, Ivory Coast mahogany, acajou d'Afrique (France), Khaya (USA), Benin mahogany, Lagos mahogany, Nigerian mahogany, ngollan, krala (Ivory Coast), mangona (Cameroons), munyama (Uganda), Mozambique mahogany, mbaua, umbaua (Mozambique), mbawa (Malawi), mkangazi (Tanzania), Beninwood, Benin mahogany (Nigeria), dry-zone mahogany, bissilom, Guinea mahogany

Wood Type

Extremely difficult



West Africa,Ivory Coast, Cameroons, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Zaire, Sudan, Uganda