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The name mahogany was first used for wood of Swietenia mahagoni, sometimes referred to as Spanish or Cuban mahogany, later also for the wood of the closely related Swietenia macrophylla, sometimes referred to as Honduras mahogany. This wood is famed for its use in making furniture (see Chippendale) as easy to work, stable in use, and displays a beautiful reddish sheen when polished. Today, all species of Swietenia are listed by CITES, i.e. protected.

The name “mahogany” is also widely used for that of the African genus Khaya (closely related to Swietenia), more correctly African mahogany.

Used in the plural, “mahoganies” may refer to the wider group of all the timbers yielded by the three related genera Swietenia, Khaya and Entandrophragma. The timbers of Entandrophragma are traded under their individual names, sometimes with “mahogany” attached: for example “sipo” may sometimes be called “sipo mahogany”.

In addition the timber trade deals with many so-called “mahoganies” with various adjectives attached, notably “Philippine mahogany”. These woods have nothing to do with mahogany proper.