The name mahogany is presently applied to several distinct kinds of commercial wood. The original mahogany wood, produced by Swietenia mahagoni, came from the American West Indies. This was the premier wood for fine furniture cabinet work and shipbuilding in Europe as early as the 1600s. Because the good reputation associated with the name mahogany is based on this wood, American mahogany is sometimes referred to as true mahogany. A related African wood, of the genus Khaya, has long been marketed as "African mahogany" and is used for much the same purposes as American mahogany because of its similar properties and overall appearance. A third kind of wood called mahogany, and the one most commonly encountered in the market, is "Philippine mahogany." This name is applied to a group of Asian woods belonging to the genus Shorea. On this site, information on the "Philippine mahoganies" and lauan is given under the meranti groups section.
*Much of the base wood information presented here is made available by the USDA FPL FS. If you are interested in a much more technical description of wood properties, I encourage you to visit the source.