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MAHOGANY, CAOBA, MARA (Swietenia macrophylla)

Trade Name

Mahogany, Caoba, Mara

Scientific Name

Swietenia macrophylla King



Common Names

Zopilozontecomacuahuitl; Zopilote; Zopilocuahuitl; Venezuela mahogany; Tzutzul; Tabasco mahogany; Sisam; Resadillo; Red wood; Red cedar; Punab; Palo xopilote; Mogno do rio Jurupari; Mahogany Honduras; Madeira; Guatemala mahogany; Flor de veradillo; Costa Rica mahogany; Chiapas; Chacalte; Central American mahogany; Cedro-rana; Caoba de Honduras; Campeche; Broad-leaved mahogany; Brazilian mahogany; Big-leafed mahogany; Bay-mahogany; Bastard lime; Aquano de tabasco; Acajou du Honduras; Caoba (Peru); Palo Zopilote; Orura; Mara (Bolivia); Mahogany; Honduras Mahogany; Cobano; Chiculte; Caobilla; Caoba De Atlántico; Caguano; Bigleaf Mahogany; Big Leafed Mahogany; Belize Mahogany; Aguano (Brazil); Acajou Amerique; Acajou; Mogno (Brazil); Peruvian Mahogany; Grootblad Mahogany; Large Leaved Mahogany; Bay Mahogany; Tzopilote; Mahonie; Granadillo; Gateado; Flor De Venadillo; Crura; Cuban Mahogany; Central America Mahogany; Chiculti; Cedro Espinoso; Cedro Cebollo; Cedro Carmesi; Caoba Roja; Caoba Americana; Caoba Mahogany; Caoba Hondurena; Cabano; Acajou D`Amerique; Aguano De Tabasco; Baywood; Araputanga (Brazil); Acajou Blanc; American Mahogany

Scientific Name Synonyms

Swietenia krukovii Gleason; Swietenia candollei Pittier; Swietenia belizensis Lundell

Description Of The Tree

Botanical Description

It can reach a height of 35 m, with a diameter of 130 cm or more, but more commonly about 80 to 100 cm. The bole is cylindrical and straight, free of branches to about 15 to 20 m. presents well developed buttresses.

Natural Habitat

Swietenia macrophylla is widely distributed in the Amazon basin, on terra firme forests. It prefers clayey soils. The level of exploitation has led to the exhaustion of supplies. particularly in the northern parts of its range. It is listed as endangered.

Natural Distribution

It is found from Central America to tropical South America. In Brazil it is reported to be more abundant in the south of Para state.

Plantations Available?

S. macrophylla is planted all over the tropics. Plantations are reported in Fiji, Solomon Islands, Malaysia, Philippines, India, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Wood Identification

Anatomic Description Of Wood

Wood diffuse porous. Vessels solitary and in short radial multiples. Tangential diameter of vessel lumina 150 to 200 micras (medium). Colored deposits in heartwood vessels. White deposits in heartwood vessels. Vessels per mm2 6 to 10 (medium). Simple perforatio Axial parenchyma in marginal or in seemingly marginal bands. Paratracheal axial parenchyma scanty and/or vasicentric. Axial parenchyma storied. Prismatic crystals in non-chambered axial parenchyma cells. 5 to 8 cells per parenchyma strand. 4 to 10 rays per mm (medium). Rays and/or axial elements irregularly storied. Rays storied. Rays 1 to 4 seriate. Prismatic crystals in the ray cells. Body ray cells procumbent with one row of upright and/or square marginal cells (Kribs-III). Septate fibers present. Fibers with simple to minutely bordered pits.

  • Wood Macro Photo Tangential Plane
  • Wood Micro Photo Of Transversal Section


Cites Status

Listed in CITES II

General Wood Description


Odor and taste are reported to be indistinct.


The sapwood is distinct but not clearly demarcated from the heartwood. The heartwood is reddish or pinkish brown when freshly cut, turning into a deep rich red brown color after exposure.

COLOR INDEX (1=Black, 7=Light yellow,white)



The grain is straight to slightly interlocked. Depending on the cut, it often produces a highly attractive figure.


The texture is fine or medium, and uniform.


The surface of the wood is naturally high in luster.

Natural Durability

It has high durability, and is resistant to brown and white rot fungi. It is moderately resistant to dry-wood termites, but susceptible to marine borer attack.

Natural durability index (1= Very high durability, 7=Vey low durability)


Internal Growth Stresses

Tension wood may be present, and may contribute to high longitudinal shrinkage.

Resistance To Impregnation

This species is reported to be impermeable.

Wood Physical Properties

Basic Density or Specific Gravity (O.D. weight/vol. green) (g/cm³)


Air-dry Density (Weight and volume at 12%MC) (g/cm³)


Total shrinkage Tangential (Saturated to 0%MC) (%)


Total shrinkage Radial (Saturated to 0%MC) (%)


Drying Defects

Ease of Drying: It is reported to air season rapidly. Drying Defects: Moderate warping and surface checking. In Venezuela a tendency to collapse and twist is also reported. Kiln Schedules: Slow drying is recommended.

Recommended Dry Kiln Schedule

UK-F; US-T6-D4

Dimensional stability ratio (Total Tangential Shrinkage %/Total Radial Shrinkage %)


Wood Chemical Properties

Wood Mechanical Properties

Bending Strength (MOR),12%MC (kgf/cm²)


Stiffness (MOE) 12%MC (kgf/cm²)


Compression parallel to fiber 12%MC (kgf/cm²)


Compression perpendicular to fiber 12%MC (kgf/cm²)


Shear strength radial 12%MC (kgf/cm²)


Janka hardness (side) 12%MC (kgf)


Janka hardness (end grain) 12%MC (kgf)




The wood offers small cutting resistance.

Rotary Veneer Cutting

S. macrophylla can be used for slicing and peeling (thermal treatment recommended).

Sliced Veneer

S. macrophylla can be used for slicing and peeling (thermal treatment recommended).

Blunting Effect

The wood has slight blunting effect on cutting edges.


It is easy to plane, occasionally the grain may chip and tear.


The wood is reported to respond well to ordinary machine tools in molding.




Boring properties are rated as good.


The timber responds readily to ordinary tools in mortising operations.


The timber is reported to have good nailing properties.


This species is easy to glue.


Sanding operations are reported to be fairly easy.


It gives an excellent finish.


The wood takes stains well.


Varnishing qualities are reported to be good.


The wood polishes rather well.

Steam Bending

Steam bending properties are rated as fairly good.

Response To Hand Tools

The wood is reported to respond well to hand tools.

Substitute Species

The following African species are also known as Mahogany: Khaya ivorensis , K. anthotheca , K. grandifolia , and K. senegalensis


End Uses Summary

HOUSING GENERAL, boards, flooring, frames, steps, panelling, FURNITURE AND CABINETS, luxury furniture, cabinets, PLYWOOD AND VENEER, faces, Decorative veneer, TURNING, lasts, BENDING, chairs, tennis rackets, SPORTS, table tennis, NAVAL CONSTRUCTION, boats, OTHER AND MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, guitar, handicrafts, moldings

General Housing
  • 10 - Silica in Timbers
  • 13 - Dry kiln schedules for commercial woods. Temperate and tropical. Section III. Latin American (Mexico, Central, and South America) Woods–Conventional Temperatures
  • 14 - Handbook of Hardwoods
  • 16 - Woods of the World
  • 17 - Tree Conservation Database
  • 18 - W3TROPICOS Missouri Botanical Garden
Furniture Cabinets
  • 21 - Tropical timbers of the world. Part III-Southeast Asian and Oceanian Species.
Furniture, Luxury
  • 22 - Dry kiln schedules for commercial woods. Temperate and tropical. Section IV-Asian and Oceanian Woods
  • 24 - Empire Timbers
Panels, Veneers
  • 25 - Directory of Timber Trade Malaysia
  • 26 - Annual Review and Assessment of the World Timber Situation 1998-ITTO
Decorative veneer
  • 28 - Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forest of Fiji
  • 30 - Embassy of Honduras in Japan
  • 34 - Embassy of Indonesia in Japan
  • 35 - Embassy of Myanmar in Japan
  • 36 - Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente, Panama
Tennis Rackets
  • 37 - Annual Review and Assessment of the World Timber Situation 1998-ITTO
  • 38 - Annual Review and Assessment of the World Timber Situation 1998-ITTO
  • 41 - Embassy of the Philippines
  • 55 - Tropical Timber Atlas of Latin America
  • 56 - Manual de Identificación de Especies Forestales de la Subregión Andina.
Other & Musical Instruments
  • 63 - Madeiras do Brazil II
  • 65 - Maderas latinoamericanas VI. Bursera simaruba. Poulsenia armata, Pterocarpus officinalis y Ficus werckleana
  • 66 - Maderas latinoamericanas. VII. Caracteristicas anatomicas. propiedades fisicomecanicas, de secado, y tratabilidad de la madera juvenil de Cordia alliodora (Ruiz & Pav. Oken.)
  • 79 - Padronização da Nomenclatura Comercial Brasileira das Madeiras Tropicais Amazônicas, Sugestão

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