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Khaya anthotheca - (Welw.) C.DC.

Common Name White Mahogany, East African Mahogany
Family Meliaceae
USDA hardiness 9-12
Known Hazards The leaves are said to be used for making an arrow-poison[299 ]. The wood dust may cause irritation to the skin[299 ].
Habitats A canopy tree of lowland rain-forest and riverine fringe forest, from sea level to about 1,500 metres[303 ]. Prefers terraces and stable, gently sloping riverbeds in riparian forests; grows well on adjacent colluvial slopes at margins of floodplains[303 ].
Range Tropical Africa - Sierra Leone to Uganda, south to Angola and Mozambique.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Khaya anthotheca White Mahogany, East African Mahogany

Khaya anthotheca White Mahogany, East African Mahogany
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Khaya anthotheca or commonly known as White Mahogany or East African Mahogany is a 60m high deciduous tree that is fast growing. It has a dense crown, large buttresses, and a bole of up to 120 cm in diameter. The plant is widely distributed throughout tropical Africa. The bark is grayish-brown and is used in traditional medicine to treat colds, fever, pneumonia, abdominal pain, vomiting, gonorrhea, male impotence, wounds, sores, and ulcers. It is also a source of reddish-brown dye. Seed oil is used against hair lice. Root is used for anemia, dysentery, and rectal prolapse. The wood is commonly used for furniture, flooring, paneling, and boat building. It is also suitable for fuel and charcoal-making.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Khaya anthotheca is a deciduous Tree growing to 50 m (164ft) by 30 m (98ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10 and is frost tender. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Garretia anthotheca Welw. Khaya agboensis A.Chev. Khaya euryphylla Harms Khaya nyasica Stapf ex Bake

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Aphrodisiac  Dysentery  Febrifuge

The bitter-tasting bark is widely used in traditional medicine[299 , 303 ]. An infusion is drunk to treat colds[303 ] and fevers[46 ]. A decoction or infusion of the bark is taken in the treatment of fevers, colds, pneumonia, abdominal pain, vomiting and gonorrhoea[299 ]. The pulverized bark is taken as an aphrodisiac and to treat male impotence[299 ]. Applied externally, the bark is used to treat wounds, sores and ulcers[299 ]. The oil from the seeds is rubbed into the hair to kill lice[303 ]. Root decoctions are drunk to treat anaemia, dysentery and rectal prolapse[299 ]. The use of the bark as an anti-anaemic agent has been confirmed in preliminary tests[299 ]. The tests also showed the presence of iron (16 mg/100 g), copper (0.7 mg/100g) and ascorbic acid[299 ]. The stem, bark and seeds contain limonoids[299 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Charcoal  Dye  Fuel  Furniture  Hair  Insecticide  Wood

Shade tree. Avenue tree. Public open space. Agroforestry Uses: The tree is occasionally planted to provide shade in agroforestry systems[299 ]. Other Uses A reddish-brown dye can be obtained from the bark[299 ]. The heartwood is pinkish brown to deep red with a copper reflection; it is more or less distinctly demarcated from the 3 - 8cm wide band of pale brown sapwood. The texture is medium to rather coarse; the grain is straight or interlocked; the wood has an attractive figure with irregular ripple marks. The wood is light to moderately heavy, soft to moderately hard; moderately durable, being resistant to dry wood borers, fairly resistant to fungi, but susceptible to termites. It seasons rapidly, with only a slight risk of checking and distortion; once dry it is moderately stable in service. The wood is usually fairly easy to saw and work, although the presence of interlocked grain may cause some difficulties; saws should be kept sharp to prevent a woolly finish and a cutting angle of 20° is recommended; it can be finished to a smooth surface, but the use of a filler is required before staining and varnishing; it takes a good polish; it holds nails and screws well, but may split upon nailing; it glues satisfactorily; bending properties are usually poor. The wood peels and slices well, producing an excellent quality of veneer. It turns fairly well. A very valuable wood with a handsome grain, it is used in furniture making, high-class cabinet work, for the production of veneers and for any application where a good quality, medium weight hardwood is needed[299 , 303 , 325 , 848 ]. Large logs are traditionally used to make dugout canoes[303 ]. The wood is suitable for fuel and can be used to make charcoal[299 , 303 ].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,500 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 18 - 28°c, but can tolerate 14 - 36°c[418 ]. The plant cannot tolerate frosts[303 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 600 - 1,600mm, but tolerates 500 - 1,800mm[418 ]. Requires a position in full sun[307 ]. Prefers a deep, fertile, medium to light, well-drained soil[307 ]. Trees tend to be unstable in shallow clay soils[307 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 7, tolerating 4.5 - 7.5[418 ]. In Ghana the average height of seedling trees after 30 months was 2.5 metres and the average stem diameter 4 - 4.5cm[299 ]. In Côte d’Ivoire, young trees planted in the open in the semi-deciduous forest zone reached an average height of 12 metres and an average bole diameter of 18cm after 10 years[299 ]. However, trees planted in the evergreen forest zone were only 6 metres tall and 9cm in diameter after 8 years[299 ]. In Malawi, planted trees reached a height of 8 metres and a diameter of 9cm after 7 years[299 ]. Trees may already develop fruits when they have a bole diameter of 18cm, but abundant fruiting usually starts at diameters above 70cm. This means that the removal of trees of diameter classes below 70 cm from the forest may result in lack of natural regeneration[299 ]. For plantations at an age of 30 years, the annual production is 2 - 4 m³/ha[299 ]. Dispersal of the seeds is by wind. The maximum dispersal distance is over 50 metres, but about 75% of all seeds are dispersed within 30 metres of the parent tree[299 ]. The tree has a network of surface roots that can cause damage to nearby buildings[307 ]. Coppices poorly[303 , 325 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - it can remain viable for a year or more, but germination is much better from seed sown fresh, often nearly 100%[325 ]. Sowing in lightly shaded nursery seedbeds has been shown to give better results than sowing in containers. Germination can begin in about 3 weeks[303 ]. Seedlings are potted up into individual containers when they are about 5cm tall and are then grown on for about 12 months until they are 30cm tall and ready for planting out[325 ]. The tree has been successfully planted as bare rooted, but use of containerized seedlings yields better results[303 ]. Seed capsules are clipped from trees when the capsules begin to split. The capsules are sun dried until they split and then shelled by hand. The seed is further dried and then stored in sealed containers in a refrigerator, because viability is lost quickly at ambient air temperatures[303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

White Mahogany, East African Mahogany

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Angola; Cameroon; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Ghana; Liberia; Malawi; Mozambique; Nigeria; Sierra Leone; Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Vulnerable A1cd

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Khaya senegalensisDryzone MahoganyTree25.0 10-12 FLMHSNMWe234

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(Welw.) C.DC.

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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