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Some Related Species

Some other species in the family Meliaceae are of commercial importance as sources of lumber, or as ornamental plants in horticulture.

The Spanish or cigar-box cedar (Cedrela odorata) of Central and South America has a hard, durable, richly colored wood that is used as a substitute for the true mahogany in fine cabinetry and furniture, as is the crab-wood (Carapa guianensis), with a broadly similar range. The African mahogany (Khaya senegalensis) grows in tropical forests on the west coast of Africa and is one of the many African species, including those in the genera Entandrophragma and Lovoa, which are substituted for the wood of the true mahogany. Some tropical hardwoods in other plant families are also used as substitutes for mahogany, for example, the Columbian mahogany Cariniana pyriformis, family Lecythidaceae.

The Chinaberry (Melia azedarach) is native to southern Asia, but is grown as an ornamental plant in parts of the southern United States. The compound leaves of the Chinaberry can be longer than 20 in (50 cm), and its purplish flowers are attractive and fragrant.

Species in the genera Azadirachta and Melia are used to manufacture botanical insecticides. Seeds of the trees Carapa guianensis and C. moluccensis are used to manufacture a minor product known as carapa fat, a thick white or yellow oil used in oil lamps, and sometimes as an insect repellant.



Judd, Walter S., Christopher Campbell, Elizabeth A. Kellogg, Michael J. Donoghue, and Peter Stevens. Plant Systematics: A Phylogenetic Approach. 2nd ed. with CD-ROM. Suderland, MD: Sinauer, 2002.

Bill Freedman


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—A structure that many trees of humid tropical forests grow at their base to stabilize the tree against the swaying forces of the wind. Buttresses can occur as broadened bases of the trunk, or as large, vertical projections from the base.

Tropical hardwood

—A generic term for a wide variety of species of tropical, angiosperm trees. Tropical hardwoods have a heavy, dense wood that is valuable for the manufacturing of lumber, or composite materials such as plywood. Mahogany and teak are among the most prized of the tropical hardwoods.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Macrofauna to MathematicsMahogany - Biology Of Mahogany, Uses Of Mahogany, Some Related Species