Graves, Arthur H. Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut.
Davis, Kenneth P. School of Forestry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Last reviewed:August 2020
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A hard, red or yellow-brown wood that takes a high polish and is used extensively for furniture and cabinetwork; also, any of the trees from which this wood is derived. The West Indies mahogany tree (Swietenia mahagoni) [see illustration] is a native of tropical regions in North America and South America. It is a large evergreen tree with smooth, pinnate leaves. Together with other species, the West Indies mahogany yields the world's most valuable cabinet wood. The Janka hardness for S. mahagoni is 800 lb-force (363 kg-force); its density is 34 lb/ft3 (545 kg/m3). Varieties with ornamental figures in the grain are highly prized. In the United States, the West Indies mahogany tree occurs naturally only in the extreme southern tip of Florida; however, it is planted elsewhere in the state as an ornamental and shade tree. The cigar-box or West Indian cedar (Cedrela odorata) belongs to the same family. See also: Cedar; Forest and forestry; Sapindales; Tree; Wood anatomy; Woodworking
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