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Temporal range: Campanian–Recent
Melia azedarach in flower
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Meliaceae

Meliaceae, the mahogany family, is a flowering plant family of mostly trees and shrubs (and a few herbaceous plants, mangroves) in the order Sapindales.

They are characterised by alternate, usually pinnate leaves without stipules, and by syncarpous,[2] apparently bisexual (but actually mostly cryptically unisexual) flowers borne in panicles, cymes, spikes, or clusters. Most species are evergreen, but some are deciduous, either in the dry season or in winter.

The family includes about 53 genera and about 600 known species,[3] with a pantropical distribution; one genus (Toona) extends north into temperate China and south into southeast Australia, another (Synoum) into southeast Australia, and another (Melia) nearly as far north. They most commonly grow as understory trees in rainforests, but are also found in mangroves and arid regions.[4]

The fossil record of the family extends back into the Late Cretaceous.[5]


Various species are used for vegetable oil, soap-making, insecticides, and highly prized wood (mahogany).

Some economically important genera and species belong to this family:


Chinese rice flower (Aglaia odorata)

Subfamily Cedreloideae[edit]

This is also known as subfamily Swietenioideae.[6][7]

Subfamily Melioideae[edit]

tribe: Aglaieae

- related genera:

tribe: Guareeae[8] - Africa

- related genera:

tribe: Melieae

tribe: Sandoriceae

tribe: Turraeeae

- related genera:

tribe: Trichilieae

- related genera:

tribe: Vavaeeae

tribe unassigned:


  1. ^ Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 161 (2): 105–121. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x.
  2. ^ Of a gynoecium, made up of united carpels
  3. ^ Christenhusz, M. J. M.; Byng, J. W. (2016). "The number of known plants species in the world and its annual increase". Phytotaxa. 261 (3): 201–217. doi:10.11646/phytotaxa.261.3.1.
  4. ^ Heywood, V.H.; Brummitt, R.K.; Culham, A.; Seberg, O. (2007). Flowering Plant Families of the World. Ontario, Canada: Firefly Books. p. 207. ISBN 9781842461655.
  5. ^ Atkinson, Brian A. (January 2020). "Fossil evidence for a Cretaceous rise of the mahogany family". American Journal of Botany. 107 (1): 139–147. doi:10.1002/ajb2.1416. ISSN 0002-9122. PMID 31903551.
  6. ^ a b Gouvea CF, Dornelas MC, Rodriguez AP (2008). "Floral Development in the Tribe Cedreleae (Meliaceae, Sub-family Swietenioideae): Cedrela and Toona". Annals of Botany. 101 (1): 39–48. doi:10.1093/aob/mcm279. PMC 2701842. PMID 17981877.
  7. ^ "Missouri Botanic Garden: list of Meliaceae genera (retrieved 18 January 2018)".
  8. ^ "Koenen E (2011) Phylogenetic and biogeographic studies in Guareeae (Meliaceae: Melioideae) - (retrieved 18 January 2018)".
  9. ^ Koenen E (2011) ibid.


  • Pennington, T.D. & Styles, B.T. (1975): A generic monograph of the Meliaceae. Blumea 22: 419–540.

External links[edit]