Khaya anthotheca is a large evergreen tree cultivated most successfully throughout the country. It can grow up to 60m tall under forest conditions and up to 30m under garden conditions. This tree is found growing naturally in evergreen and riverine forests, nearly always near water. It is native to tropical and Southern Africa and is classified as ‘Vulnerable’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The Red mahogany is characterised with a rounded branched crown, long straight stem and buttress roots. The bark is greyish brown and smooth on young branches becoming mottled grey-brown and flaky on mature branches. Leaves of this tree are dark shiny green at the top and pale green at the bottom and with clear distinct veins. Moreover, the leaves are alternate and compound with 3-7 leaflets on each leaf. From September to December, sweetly scented white flowers appear in clustered bunches at the tips of branches attracting a wide range of insects, birds and butterflies to the garden. The fruit appears in form of an oval woody capsule with 4 or 5 valves from March to September.
Khaya anthotheca is usually grown as a shade or avenue tree in the landscape. It is an ideal species for medium to large gardens and can also provide conducive growing conditions for shade plants. Due to its evergreen nature, the fast-growing Red Mahogany can provide a solution in situations where a quick windbreak is required. This tree is frost sensitive and hence not suitable for very cold parts of the country.