Khaya anthotheca: Origin, Classification, Characteristics, and Uses

Khaya anthotheca: Origin, Classification, Characteristics, and Uses


Khaya anthotheca, a member of the Meliaceae family, has six species, four of which are found in equatorial Africa and two each in Madagascar and the Comores (Wiselius, 1998). The paripinnate leaves and mostly spherical, 4-5 valved, dehiscent woody capsules of this genus make it simple to identify. Numerous trial plantations in Indonesia and Peninsular Malaysia introduced Khaya members (Wiselius, 1998). Khaya species are tall, with cylindric boles, and are naturally fast-growing. It is virtually always grown in homesteads across Bangladesh, primarily in the country’s southwestern regions. It was impossible to identify due to a paucity of fruiting and flowering plants. Its flowering and fruiting specimens were taken from Jessore in 2009.

Origin and Distribution

There are many places where Khaya anthotheca is found, including Guinea Bissau, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Angola in the south. In addition to South Africa, tropical Asia, and tropical America, it is produced in plantations pretty broadly throughout its natural range (Maroyi, 2008). It is grown in alluvial plain districts of Bangladesh in individual households.


Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Sapindales

Family: Meliaceae

Genus: Khaya

Species: K. anthotheca

Scientific Name: Khaya anthotheca

Common names: East African Mahogany, Nyasaland Mahogany, Red Mahogany, Smooth-Barked Mahogany, White Mahogany, Uganda Mahogany


1. A large evergreen tree species endemic to tropical Africa is called Khaya anthotheca, generally known as East African Mahogany.

2. The Greek terms “anthos” and “theca,” which respectively denote flower and capsule, are the source of the particular name “anthotheca.”

3. The Khaya anthotheca is a huge tree that grows quickly and can reach heights of 60 metres. It has a straight, rounded stem that reaches a significant height before branching, with a very modest base buttress.

4. The leaves are dark-glossy green, alternately spirally arranged, and have three to seven leaflets. but grouped close to the ends of branches, new flushes towards the crown occasionally pale reddish, and 4–16 leaflet pairs;

5. Leaflets subopposite or nearly so, apical 4 pairs opposite, elliptical to ovate-elliptic or oblong-elliptic, 15–23 x 6.5–8.0 cm, complete, glossy green above, pale below, glabrous, base numerous leaflets obtuse or rounded and somewhat asymmetrical and oblique, apex suddenly tapering into a short point,

6. The tree has greyish brown bark. The absence of stipules and the petiole’s length, 3.5-7 cm twigs are glabrous; bark is rather smooth; inner bark is dark brownish-pink with whitish streaks.

7. The blooms are unisexual and occur in an axillary panicle that is 30–40 cm long.

8. The fruits are erect, almost globose-shaped, and contain woody capsules that dehisce into 4-5 halves and contain a large number of seeds.

9. Seeds have a disc or a quadrangular form. Light brown seeds with a slender wing surrounding them, grouped in rows around the central column and measuring 1-2 1.5-3 cm.

10. Stipules are absent; petiole and rachis together measure up to 28–60 cm; petiolules range in length from 0.6–1.5 cm, with lower leaflet petiolules being comparably longer. Lateral veins are 6–20 pairs, distinct on the lower surface.

11. The paniculate inflorescence is about 25–45 cm long.

12. Flowers are unisexual, with male and female flowers that are quite similar to one another. They are small, regular, yellowish, 4-merous, sweet-scented, bracteolate, and have bracteoles.

13. Gamosepalous, imbricate, four, 0.2–0.4 mm long sepals. Four gamopetalous, 3.5–4.0 mm long, valvate petals.

14. Anthers are 2-celled, oblong, and transversely dehiscent. There are eight stamens, which are fused into an urn-shaped tube between three and five millimeters long, epipetalous, and alternate with rounded lobes.

15. Male flowers have a rudimentary ovary, while female flowers have smaller, non-dehiscing anthers.

Flowering: February to March.

Fruiting: July to August.


The wood is frequently used for window frames, panelling, doors, and stairways in addition to being highly appreciated for furniture, cabinet work, decorative boxes and cases, and veneer. Light flooring, ship construction, automobile bodies, sporting goods, musical instruments, toys, novelties, carving, plywood, and pulpwood are all appropriate uses (Maroyi, 2008). The bitter bark is a common component of African traditional medicine. It is used to treat cough, whilst bark decoctions or infusions are used to treat conditions such as fever, cold, pneumonia, nausea, vomiting, and gonorrhoea, as well as to treat wounds, sores, and ulcers when used topically. To treat male impotence and as an aphrodisiac, pulverised bark is consumed. Root decoctions are consumed in Tanzania to treat anaemia, diarrhoea, and rectal prolapse. The Shambaa people of this nation have been using the bark for reddish-brown colouring. The leaves are purported to be used in DR Congo to make arrow poison. K. anthotheca is frequently planted as a wayside tree and decorative shade tree. In agroforestry systems, it is occasionally planted as a shade tree (Maroyi, 2008).

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