Sapele trees grow in Sub-Saharan Africa where they can reach heights of up to 150 feet tall with trunk diameters of up to 5 feet. These giant trees yeild lumber that is generally a deep, rich burgundy red in color. When quartersawn, ribbon striping is present which is one of the reasons it is often compared (and referred to as a mahogany). It is a member of the same family as mahogany (Meliceae) but is of a distinct genus and species.
Sapele is harder and stronger than both African and Honduran mahogany, but more difficult to work as a result. Its dust has an unmistakable spicy scent when sawn or sanded, making it easy to identify.
Due to the wide distribution of the tree and their immense size, sapele trees are a commonly available timber in both the United States and Europe. However, like many tropical trees valued for their lumber, they are on the ICUN Red List because they are currently being harvested at an unsystainable rate. Hopefully, foward thinking will prevail and the forests will be managed in such a way that these trees will be available for a long time.