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Khaya senegalensis MS 2037.JPG
Khaya senegalensis in habitat
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Meliaceae
Genus: Khaya

See text.

Khaya is a genus of seven species[citation needed] of trees in the mahogany family Meliaceae, native to tropical Africa and Madagascar. All species become big trees 30–35 m tall, rarely 45 m, with a trunk over 1 m trunk diameter, often buttressed at the base. The leaves are pinnate, with 4-6 pairs of leaflets, the terminal leaflet absent; each leaflet is 10–15 cm long abruptly rounded toward the apex but often with an acuminate tip. The leaves can be either deciduous or evergreen depending on the species. The flowers are produced in loose inflorescences, each flower small, with four or five yellowish petals and ten stamens. The fruit is a globose four or five-valved capsule 5–8 cm diameter, containing numerous winged seeds.

Selected species

Khaya grandifoliola is native to Benin, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Sudan, Togo, and Uganda is traded as Benin Mahogany or Ivory Coast Mahogany, depending where it is sourced.

Khaya ivorensis is native to Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, and Nigeria is called Lagos Mahogany. It has been introduced into Angola, Central African Republic, Guinea, and Togo.

Khaya senegalensis is found in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo, and Uganda and is called Senegal Mahogany or Dry Zone Mahogany. Plantations now exist in China (introduced 1963-1966), Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and northern Australia.

Khaya madagascariensis is found in Madagascar and Comoros and is often simply called Madagascar Mahogany. This species is included in the IUCN Red List as "endangered."

Khaya anthotheca grows in Angola, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique and is known as East African Mahogany or White Mahogany. It is also grown in plantations in Southern Africa and in some Asian countries with varying success.


The timber of Khaya is collectively called African mahogany, and is often used as a substitute for Swietenia mahogany which has been commercially extinct since 2003.[1]

Khaya senegalensis, also known as Mubaba in the Shona language is also used for its herbaceous parts. In west Africa, Fulani herdmen prune the tree during the dry season to feed cattle. In addition, the bark of K. senegalensis is often harvested from natural populations as well as plantations and used to treat many diseases. The seeds of K. senegalensis have an oil content of 52.5%, consisting of 21% palmitic acid, 10% stearic acid, 65% oleic acid, and 4% "unidentifiable acid" [1]

The durable reddish-brown wood of K. anthotheca is used for dug-out canoes or makoros and as a general beam, door frame and shelving timber which is termite and borer resistant.[2]

Some drum companies, as Premier, used Khaya wood for making their drums in the mid-70s.[citation needed] However, it was too expensive,[citation needed] so they switched to using other materials such as maple and birch.[citation needed]


  1. ^ What Is Mahogany? (PDF)
  2. ^ Joffe, Pitta: (2007), Indigenous Plants of South Africa, Briza Publications, pg 123