Honduran Mahogany, Honduras Mahogany, American Mahogany, Genuine Mahogany, Big-Leaf Mahogany, Brazilian Mahogany
|Scientific Name||Swietenia macrophylla|
From Southern Mexico to central South America;
also commonly grown on plantations. The Asian countries which grow the majority of Swietenia macrophylla are India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Fiji, Philippines, Singapore, and some others, with India and Fiji being the major world suppliers.
|Tree Size||This tree when given the proper growing conditions grow up to 150-200 ft (46-60 m) tall, 3-6 ft (1-2 m) trunk diameter.|
|Dried Weight ( average )||37 lbs/ft3 (590 kg/m3).|
|Specific Gravity||52, .59|
|Janka Hardness||900 lbf (4,020 N)|
Honduran Mahogany, the national tree of the Dominican Republic and Belize is a common name that refers to several trees in the Swietenia genus. known by many names like Big-leaf Mahogany, Genuine Mahogany, etc, this tree is distributed over Southern Mexico to central South America. The Honduran Mahogany consists of hardwood that varies in color and changes color with age.
The Honduran Mahogany wood varies from moderately durable to very durable depending on the density, girth, sunlight, and the growing conditions of the tree. Older trees tend to produce darker, heavier, denser, and more durable Honduran Mahogany lumber than plantation-grown stock. These are found to be resistant to termites, but vulnerable to other insects.
The Honduran Mahogany is considered as the one true and real species when referring to Mahogany unlike the Philipines Mahogany. This tree is of great significance and importance as commercial timber in Latin America as the export of this wood brings in a lot of money to the country.
Unfortunately, this tree is being exploited everywhere due to overharvesting, illegal exporting, uncontrolled logging, and lack of conservation methods to rejuvenate this tree to maintain its population and save it from extinction. The Honduran Mahogany is the first tree that is of high volume and high value to be listed in CITES Appendix II and that is nothing to be proud of. Some species are presently known to be commercially extinct while some species are already extinct in parts of South America.
The authorities have already begun taking measures. The Brazilian government has completely banned the export of this wood either in raw or in the form of finished products back in 2001. Many strict laws against import and export of this tree have been enforced. Some laws protect the indigenous people as many of them have been taken for granted.
Color: The color of the heartwood can vary a great deal from a pale pinkish brown to a darker reddish-brown. Color tends to darken with age. Older trees tend to have a deeper and darker color. Mahogany also exhibits an optical phenomenon known as chatoyancy ie the surface change color when it is viewed at a different angle.
Texture: Grain can be fine, straight, interlocked, irregular, or wavy. The texture is medium and uniform, with a moderate natural luster. Diffuse-porous; large pores in no specific arrangement; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; mineral deposits occasionally present; growth rings distinct due to marginal parenchyma; rays barely visible without lens; parenchyma banded (marginal), paratracheal parenchyma vasicentric.
Workability: Typically very easy to work with tools and machines well. With exception to sections with figured grain, which can tear out or chip during machining. Slight dulling of cutters can occur. Sands very easily. Turns, glues, stains, and finishes well and receives any type of paint or finish well.
Odor: No characteristic odor while harvesting or while working with the wood.
Availability: Despite export restrictions, Honduran Mahogany continues to be available in lumber or veneer form, possibly from plantations. Prices are in the mid-range for an imported hardwood, though it tends to be more expensive than African Mahogany. Figured or quartersawn lumber is more expensive. This wood species is in CITES Appendix II and is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as vulnerable due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range exploitation, overharvesting, uncontrolled lodging, and lack of conservation methods for maintaining its population.
Common Uses: Mahogany claims to have the qualities that make it an ideal stock for desks, tables, and large cabinets using Handoran Mahogany lumber, wood, veneer, body blank, etc. Both sculptors and turners find the wood suited for intricately detailed work. And, today's boatbuilders, like those centuries ago, turn to Honduras mahogany for structural members, decking, and trim. The Honduran Mahogany is used not only for furniture, cabinetry, turned objects, veneers, musical instruments, boatbuilding, and carving but also for healing purposes. Sky fruit concentrate and pure Swietenia Mahogany seed are approved by the Ministry of Health Malaysia as a natural remedy. Research has demonstrated its anti-hyperglycemic activity in normoglycaemic rats.
Honduran Mahogany Cites: The Honduran Mahogany is the first tree that is of high volume and high value to be listed in CITES Appendix II and that is nothing to be proud of. Some species are presently known to be commercially extinct while some species are already extinct in parts of South America.
“Illegal logging and unsustainable export levels are threatening to render big-leaf mahogany commercially extinct shortly, a trend that has been reflected in recent years by rising prices,” stated CITES Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers.
By relying on the CITES permit system, exporters, importers, and consumers of mahogany can be relieved that they are using only legally, sustainably harvested timber and that they are doing their part to save these trees from extinction. The new regulations will also benefit local and indigenous communities, who have been taken for granted far too long enough and until now have not received their fair share of the income for their hard work from mahogany sales,
The mahogany range has become fragmented, many populations have declined dramatically and the building of access roads for mahogany lumbering has encouraged more and more deforestation. Populations of big-leaf mahogany have declined by over 70% in Central America since 1950. The species is already reported to be commercially extinct in El Salvador, Costa Rica, and parts of South America. The other two species of Latin American mahogany – the Cuban mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni) and Honduras mahogany (Swietenia humilis) – are also now commercially extinct.
Today, the major natural stands of big-leaf mahogany are in Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru. The trees remain in these places as the governments were quick to act upon the situation and banned the export of this wood. Plantations have been established in Fiji and other countries, but the CITES listing will not apply to them.
For exporting countries, an Appendix-II listing will provide the controls, information, and tools they need to manage their mahogany resources and ensure that trade bans or commercial extinction are not the next steps. CITES permits are only issued if Government-appointed Management Authorities can confirm that the timber has been obtained legally and independent Scientific Authorities certify that its harvesting is not detrimental to the survival of the species. CITES Authorities in both the exporting and importing countries are to monitor the shipments and verify the validity of each CITES permit.
Honduran Mahogany vs African Mahogany
The color of Honduran Mahogany varies from a pale pinkish color to deep reddish-brown color closer to orange than its African counterpart; African Mahogany is lighter in color, projecting a more pinkish hue. The Honduran Mahogany changes color as it grows older. While Honduran Mahogany is known for its fine, straight grain, African Mahogany enjoys more variety in graining: Bee’s Wing, Ribboned, and Ropey patterns distinguish this wood from any of its counterparts. An additional characteristic that sets African Mahogany apart is its chatoyant luster, which makes the wood appear to have different coloring when it is viewed from a different angle.
Both Honduran and African Mahoganies are resistant to termites; however, African Mahogany does not have the same resistance to beetles than that of Honduran does. Both kinds of wood also offer rot resistance that comes with their high density; however, Honduran Mahogany is denser than the African variety. The density of the Honduran wood also depends on its growing environments therefore when grown in good growing conditions the wood is more durable and resistant.
Long favored by furniture craftsman, the dense Honduran Mahogany performs famously in response to both carving and machining. Add to that stability during drying and responsiveness to finishing, and this wood’s popularity is easily understood. African Mahogany is used for furniture, as well, and boasts similar responsiveness to cutting and finishing techniques. Both kinds of wood have tonal qualities, making them ideal for use in musical instruments, such as guitars. Additional applications of both kinds of wood include plywood, interior trim, cabinetry, fixtures, paneling, and interior flooring. Both kinds of wood easily glue and respond well to paints and finishes.
The more durable Honduran Mahogany might already be more pricey than African Mahogany, but the disparity has been broadened in recent years, due to political interference in the form of CITES’ listing Genuine Mahogany in a list of endangered species of wild fauna and flora. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species made this addition in 2003, making even areas where Genuine Mahogany can be legally harvested often less profitable for loggers. The resulting decreased supply has clashed with the demand, making the price formidably rise.
At the end of the day, Honduran Mahogany is almost certainly superior for many uses, while African Mahogany is a more affordable alternative that works well for various applications.
Here is the few finished products images
Frequently asked Questions
Honduras mahogany is a common name for several trees and may refer to:
- Swietenia humilis a small tree with a restricted range from southern Mexico to northern Central America
- Swietenia macrophylla, a large tree with a broad native range from Central America to South America, and cultivated in Asia for timber production.
Mahogany is typically very smooth in texture, with few knots or voids, making it a desirable type of wood aesthetically, and easy to work with when building furniture or musical instruments.