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mahogany,common name for the Meliaceae, a widely distributed family of chiefly tropical shrubs and trees, often having scented wood. The valuable hardwood called mahogany is obtained from many members of the family; in America and Europe it is imported for cabinetmaking and similar uses. According to tradition it was first introduced to England from the West Indies when Sir Walter Raleigh had a mahogany table made for Queen Elizabeth I; the popularity of the wood increased steadily in the 18th cent. The different mahoganies vary in color from golden to deep red brown; most are close-grained and resistant to termites. The principal sources are the tropical American genus Swietenia (especially S. macrophylla, bigleaf mahogany, the present main source, and S. mahogani, West Indian mahogany, the historic main source) and the W African genus Khaya (especially K. ivorensis).
Another important member of the family is the West Indian cedar, or cigar-box tree (Cedrela odorata), whose scented, insect-repellent wood is commonly used for cigar boxes. The wood of the chinaberry tree (Melia azedarach) of Asia, introduced to (and now naturalized in) the S United States, Africa, and the Mediterranean as an ornamental, is also used for lumber. The name mahogany is also given to numerous unrelated tropical trees that provide similar lumber.
The mahogany family is classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
..... Click the link for more information. , class Magnoliopsida, order Sapindales.
the reddish or brownish wood obtained from tropical trees that are often called mahogany trees. It is very sturdy and heavy and polishes well. The color of mahogany results from the presence of pigments, which are sometimes extracted for the manufacture of dyes. Most often used to obtain mahogany are American and African mahogany trees of the family Meliaceae and the sappanwood tree of the family Caesalpiniaceae from Southeast Asia (which has the fragrance of vio-lets). Mahogany is used for veneers in the furniture industry and for the interior decoration of ships, railroad cars, and apartments. The wood of the yew, black alder, and sequoia, which have the red color but not the other qualities of genuine mahogany, is sometimes called mahogany.
(Swietenia mahagoni), an evergreen tree of the family Meliaceae. It is up to 15 m high. The leaves are regular and paripinnate. The flowers are five-parted and in axillary panicles. The fruit is an elongated quinquevalvate capsule with numerous flat, winged seeds. The plant grows wild in the West Indies. The wood of the mahogany tree is hard, very durable, heavy, and attractive. It has grayish white sapwood and reddish brown heartwood. The wood is used primarily for artistic items, such as furniture and small turned products. The wood of many other tropical trees of the family Meliaceae (including other species of Swietenia and of the genera Khaya, Dysoxylum, and Carapa) and of other families of trees is also called mahogany.