Mahogany Tree Facts, Information on Types of Mahogany Trees
Here is some general information on the mahogany tree.f
The name mahogany is used when referring to numerous varieties of dark-colored hardwood. It is a native American word originally used for the wood of the species Swietenia mahagoni, known as West Indian or Cuban mahogany.
The term was next applied to the wood of Swietenia macrophylla, which is closely related, and known as Honduras mahogany. Both are from the Meliaceae family.
Today, all species of Swietenia grown in their native locations are listed by CITES, and are therefore protected. Both Swietenia mahagoni, and Swietenia macrophylla were introduced into several Asian countries at the time of the restrictions imposed on American mahogany in the late 1990s and both are now successfully grown and harvested in plantations in those countries. The world's supply of genuine mahogany today comes from these Asian plantations, notably from India, Fiji, Bangladesh, and Indonesia.
Species of Swietenia cross-fertilise readily when they grow in proximity; the hybrid between S. mahagoni and S. macrophylla is widely planted for its timber. Mahogany is the national tree of Dominican Republic and Belize. It also appears on the national seal of Belize.
Mahogany has a generally straight grain and is usually free of voids and pockets. It has a reddish-brown color, which darkens over time, and displays a reddish sheen when polished. It has excellent workability, and is very durable. Historically, the tree's girth allowed for wide boards from traditional mahogany species. These properties make it a favorable wood for crafting cabinets and furniture.
Much of the first-quality furniture made in the American colonies from the mid 18th century, when the wood first became available to American craftsmen, was made of mahogany. Mahogany is still widely used for fine furniture; however, the rarity of Cuban mahogany and over harvesting of Honduras mahogany has diminished their use. Mahogany also resists wood rot, making it attractive in boat construction. It is also often used for musical instruments, particularly the backs of acoustic guitars and drums shells because of its ability to produce a very deep, warm tone compared to other commonly used woods such as Maple or Birch.
A wide variety of electric guitars are also made with mahogany, notably the famous Gibson Les Paul, which uses a sandwiched body with a maple cap over a mahogany core. The tighter grain of maple generally yields a brighter tone, the combination of woods produce a warm, rounded tone with great sustain, as well as weight, for which the guitar is famous. The Gibson SG, and most of the PRS Guitars among others make use of Mahogany for the entire body, and often for the neck as well.
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