Commercial Timbers


H. G. Richter and M. J. Dallwitz

Khaya spp. (Khaya, African mahogany)

Nomenclature etc. MELIACEAE. K. ivorensis A. Chev.; K. anthotheca (Syn. Garretia anthotheca Welw.); K. grandifoliola C.DC. Trade and local names: Afrikanisches Mahagoni, Khaya (DE), Benin-, Lagos-mahagoni (NG), Dubini-, Axim-, Accra-, Tacoradi mahagony (GH), n'gollon, n'dola, Kap Lopez mahagoni (GA), Grand Bassam mahagoni (CI), undianunu (AO), acajou d'Afrique (FR), African mahagoni (GB), khaya (US), Douala mahonie (NL). Not protected under CITES regulations.

Tree. Geographic distribution: tropical Africa.

General. Heartwood basically brown to red. Sapwood colour distinct from heartwood colour. Density 0.42–0.47–0.57 g/cm³.

Vessels. Wood diffuse-porous. Vessels in multiples, commonly short (2–3 vessels) radial rows. Average tangential vessel diameter 110–160–245 µm. Average number of vessels/mm² 2–3–7. Perforation plates simple. Intervessel pits alternate, average diameter (vertical) 2–3 µm. Vessel-ray pits with distinct borders, similar to intervessel pits. Other deposits in heartwood vessels present (orange brown).

Tracheids and fibres. Fibres of medium wall thickness. Average fibre length (960–)1380–1620(–2000) µm. Fibre pits mainly restricted to radial walls, simple to minutely bordered. Fibres septate and non-septate. Septate fibres scattered near vessels and rays.

Axial parenchyma. Axial parenchyma not banded. Axial parenchyma paratracheal. Paratracheal axial parenchyma scanty, or vasicentric. Axial parenchyma as strands. Average number of cells per axial parenchyma strand 4(–8). Banded parenchyma occasionally present (traumatic?) but not characteristic for the genus.

Rays. Rays 8–11 per tangential mm, multiseriate (also if only few), (2–)4–7 cells wide. Rays with multiseriate portions as wide as uniseriate portions present. Rays composed of two or more cell types (heterocellular). Heterocellular rays with square and upright cells restricted to marginal rows, mostly 1 marginal row of upright or square cells and mostly 2–4 marginal rows of upright or square cells (rarely).

Secretory structures. Intercellular canals present (rarely), traumatic origin, axial type, in long tangential lines and in short tangential lines.

Mineral inclusions. Crystals present, prismatic, located in ray cells and axial parenchyma cells. Crystal-containing ray cells upright and/or square. Crystal-containing axial parenchyma cells not chambered. Number of crystals per cell or chamber one. Silica not observed.

Illustrations. • Macro images. Khaya anthotheca. Transverse. Radial. • Transverse section. Khaya anthotheca. • Tangential section. Khaya anthotheca. • Radial section. Khaya anthotheca. (Inset: prismatic crystals in ray cells).

The interactive key allows access to the character list, illustrations, full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting specified attributes, summaries of attributes within groups of taxa, and geographical distribution.

Cite this publication as: ‘Richter, H.G., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2000 onwards. Commercial timbers: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. In English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. Version: 25th June 2009.’.