Exotic Hardwood Choices: African Mahogany
Heavy African mahogany is a hardwood that originates in nations in the western regions of Africa such as the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Togo and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It goes by several other names in the hardwood flooring trade including acajou, akuk, Senegal mahogany and Khaya mahogany. Useful for diverse applications such as cabinet making and boat building, heavy African mahogany is also in demand for hardwood floors because of its beautiful heartwood, which begins with a pink hue and then darkens to a rich, deep brown over time. The botanical name of the tree that produces this wood is Khaya Grandifoliola.
According to the International Tropical Timber Organization, this species is regularly available for export and is a significant source of timber from the areas of its growing range, which are somewhat dry. However, at this time those interested in the green or environmentally responsible hardwoods may wish to choose another exotic species as it is not known whether stocks are being produced in a sustainable manner.
African mahogany is often preferred over American species of the wood because the African variety is just as durable, standing up well to floorboard sanding and dust free floor sanding, yet costs significantly less because it is currently more abundant.
Alternatives to Heavy African Mahogany
Consumers who are not able to find African mahogany in their local area may wish to use wood derived from the Sapele tree instead, as it is similar in many characteristics including strength. Stained African canarium is another choice; it is commonly regarded as very similar in outward appearance to mahogany.