Species Data

Class: Magnoliopsida

Order: Sapindales

Family: Meliaceae

Scientific Name: Swietenia macrophylla

IUCN Red List status: Vulnerable

IUCN Species Range Map



One of the three true mahogany trees, Big-leaf Mahogany (known variously under a large number of names) are famous for their high-quality wood, often used in furniture production. Overharvesting has left mahogany populations at risk, with declines of up to 70% since the 1950s. Big-leaf Mahogany may also have medicinal uses in treating blood conditions.

Main image: Swietenia macrophylla © 2009 Jee & Rani Nature Photography (License: CC BY-SA 4.0)


Climate and Range

Historically, Big-leaf Mahogany was widespread throughout Central America and North Eastern South America. It is now restricted to patches of Amazonia, Colombia and Northern Venezuela. Although found in moist forests, they are able to grow in fairly dry conditions. Plantations of Big-leaf mahogany now exist across Central America and South-East Asia.


Swietenia macrophylla © 2009 Jee & Rani Nature Photography (License: CC BY-SA 4.0)

Threats and Conservation

A species of very high commercial importance, the Big-leaf Mahogany has been logged extensively. Very often, the logging technique used is “selective logging”, with the mahogany being taken but surrounding trees left intact. This means that other trees continue to block light to the forest floor. Mahoganies can only generate if there is sufficient light so rarely are felled trees replaced where they once grew.


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