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Zebrawood was first recorded in the British Customs returns for 1773, when 180 pieces of zebrawood were imported from the Mosquito Coast, a British colony (now Republic of Honduras and Nicaragua). In his History of Jamaica (1774), Edward Long relates, ‘The species of zebra wood at present in esteem among the cabinet-makers is brought to Jamaica from the Mosquito shore; it is of a most lovely tint, and richly veined. The Mosquito Coast thereafter exported zebrawood regularly until the Convention of London (1786) and the consequent expulsion of British settlers from this part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.
In the 20th century, the name zebrawood, as applied to Astronium species, went out of use. The word now usually refers to wood of the very different African tree Microberlinia brazzavillensis, but may be applied to other woods, mostly belonging to the same Fabaceae family, but not exclusively so.