African Mahogany


Scientific nameKhaya anthotheca
SynonymsWhite Mahogany / East African Mahogany
Native distributionSub Saharan Africa
BiologyIt is a large evergreen tree up to 60m tall with an elongated or rounded, much-branched crown. Diameter between 60-120cm.
EcologySlow growing species.
HabitatA canopy tree of lowland rain-forest and riverine fringe forest, from sea level to about 1,500m. Prefers terraces and stable, gently sloping riverbeds in riparian forests. It grows well on adjacent colluvial slopes at margins of floodplains. Grows on medium and heavy clay soils but prefers well-drained soil.
WoodThe wood is light to moderately heavy, soft to moderately hard. The sapwood is between 2-5cm. It is durable, resistant to dry wood borers, fairly resistant to fungi, but susceptible to termites. Very common in furniture production, doors, flooring etc. in East Africa.
NTFPsThe bitter-tasting bark is widely used in traditional medicine. A decoction or infusion of the bark is taken in the treatment of fevers, colds, pneumonia, abdominal pain, vomiting and gonorrhoea.
ServicesThe tree is occasionally planted to provide shade in agroforestry systems. A reddish-brown dye can be obtained from the bark. The heartwood is pinkish brown to deep red with a copper reflection. It is more or less distinctly demarcated from the 3-8cm wide band of pale brown sapwood.
Other informationThe leaves are said to be used for making an arrow-poison. The wood dust may cause irritation to the skin.