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Caribbean Mahogany

BOTANICAL NAME: Swietenia mahagoni

COMMON NAMES: Dominican mahogany, Cuban mahogany, West Indies mahogany.

Traded under the specific names Caribbean MahoganyCuban Mahogany, or West Indian Mahogany.

DESCRIPTION of WOOD: The pale pinkish brown and reddish-brown color darkens over time, and displays a reddish sheen and classic chatoyance when polished. It has a straight, fine and even grain. It has excellent workability, is very durable, and its beauty and stability have made this lumber an enduring favorite. Often used for musical instruments, particularly the backs, sides and necks of acoustic guitars and drum shells, as well as bodies of electric guitars, because it produces a very deep, warm tone.  One of the three genuine mahoganies, (only the Swietenia species can be called “genuine mahogany.”) this mahogany is one of the most valuable cabinet woods of any tree. This mahogany was the mahogany that the Spanish built ships with, and it was shipped back to Europe beginning in the 16th century. This is the mahogany that made the world fall in love with it.

(Today most mahogany wood comes from S. macrophylla, Honduras mahogany, a larger tree which is widespread in Central and South American tropical forests.) Chippendale and Hepplewhite cabinets made from mahogany in the mid-1700’s are worth small fortunes today.

Sustainability: This wood species is in CITES Appendix II, and is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as endangered due to a population reduction of over 50% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.

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