Sunday, July 18, 2010

Toon Tree - Mahogany's Cool Climate Relatives


A small genus of trees related to the Mahoganies that are grown for both their shade and also their valuable lumber. They prefer moist, deep well drained, fertile soil in full sun. Propagation is from seed which should be soaked in warm water before sowing.

Toona ciliata ( Ciliate Toona )
Also called Toona australis and Cedrela toona; it is a fast growing, massive tree reaching 150 feet or more, that is native to rainforest of Australia from northeast Queensland to southeast New South Wales. Some records include: 1st year - 4 feet; 6 years - 15 feet with a trunk diameter of 2 inches; 16 years - 46 feet with a trunk diameter of 8 inches; 22 years - 64 feet with a trunk diameter of 7 inches; 30 years - 65 feet with a trunk diameter of 20 inches; 35 years - a trunk diameter of 27 inches; 50 years - 117 feet with a trunk diameter of 17 inches; largest on record - 233 x 72 feet with a trunk diameter of 11.2 feet ( above the widely buttressed base ). It grows with a solid, upright, red brown trunk and a massive, spreading leafy canopy
The large pinnate leaves are up to 26 or rarely 36 inches in length and are composed of up to 29 ovate leaflets up to 9 x 4 ( rarely over 6 x 2.5 ) inches in size. The attractive foliage is red when new in late spring turning to luxuriant glossy green.
The small, fragrant, white flowers are borne in clusters up to 16 inches in length in spring.
Its timber is very valuable and this tree has been over logged in the past.
Hardy zones 9 to 12 tolerating as low as 10 F and is moderately drought tolerant. It grows well in Sydney, Australia. The Ciliate Toon requires yearly rainfall above 30 inches and can tolerate extreme heat as high as 120 F. New growth on young plants is prone to damage from Cedar Tip Moth. It requires an average yearly rainfall exceeding 42 inchees.

Toona febrifuga ( Vietnamese Mahogany )
Also called Toona sureni. A drought deciduous, very large tree reaching a maximum size of 200 x 60 ( rarely over 130 ) feet with a trunk diameter of 10 feet. It is a widespread native of central and southern India, far southern China and tropical southeast Asia.
The large, pinnate leaves, up to 33 inches in length, are composed of 12 to 24 lance-shaped leaflets. The leaves are usually clustered at or near the stems tips.
The fibrous and flaky bark is pale gray-brown.
Hardy zones 10 and warmer, where frosts do not occur unlike the extremely cold hardy Toona sinensis which is even planted in northern Europe.

Toona sinensis ( Chinese Toon )
Formerly called Cedrela sinensis. This is a fast growing, huge, dense tree native to China ( as far north as Beijing ) and southeast Asia that can reach up to 100 feet however it is sometimes found as a suckering clump of many stems on less than ideal conditions. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 5 feet; 3 years - 5 feet from seed; 8 years - 20 feet; largest on record - 133 x 120 feet with a trunk diameter of 6.5 feet; largest in Pennsylvania - 100 x 80 feet @ Lebanon; 80 x 70 x 4 feet @ Scott Arboretum. A very large tree also grows at Monticello near Charlottesville, Virginia. It is best grown as a single trunk tree with suckers removed however looks excellent planted as a grove due to their very attractive orange, peeling, very flaking bark. It makes a great street tree and is most spectacular plants in groves in parkland settings.
The large pinnate leaves have a reddish central stalk and reach as large as 4 ( rarely over 3 ) feet in length on vigorous shoots. The leaves are made up to 16 to 30 lance-shaped leaflets up to 6 x 2 or rarely 9.5 x 3.5 inches in size. Unlike the similar foliages Ailanthus, the Chinese Toon is often missing the terminal leaflet in its leaf arrangement. The foliage is attractive downy, rose-purple in spring turning to deep green and smooth during summer, then turning to orange-yellow in autumn. The foliage smells of onions when crushed. The edible leaves are used in cooking in China, they are boiled and have a taste reminiscing of onion. This plant may have anti-cancerous properties, having it as part of the diet may be beneficial.
The fragrant, small white flowers are borne in hanging, terminal panicles up to 20 x 8 inches in size during late spring or early summer.
They are followed by woody, brown capsules up to an inch in length.
The wood is used for making cigar boxes among other things. Insects including termites do not like the wood.
Hardy zones 5 to 9, requiring a continental climate with long hot summers and cold winters to thrive. Prefers rich, well drained soil in full sun and is both heat and pollution tolerant. Easy to grow, insect pests and disease practically don't exist on this plant. Though rare in most places outside of China, it has become a popular street tree in Philadelphia, PA and Paris, France. Reported to grow in Washington, D.C. at Mt. Hamilton in U.S. National Arboretum though I have still not actually seen it there.
Propagation is easily done from seed or transplanting suckers during the winter. The seed should be soaked in cold water for 24 hours before sowing. It tends to sucker more on slopes or soil that is sandy.

* Photos taken on July 16 2010 @ Morris Arboretum, Philly, PA

* historical archive photo

* photos taken on Apr 23 2017 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* photo taken on Nov 10 2020 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

New foliage is vivid pink transitioning to creamy yellow the finally to lush glossy green.


Cedrela odorata ( Cuban Cedar )
Also called Cedrela glaziovii. A semi-evergreen, large tree native to southwest Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and much of northern and central South America ( does not occur west of the Andes Mtns. ). Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 6.6 feet with a trunk diameter increase of 1 inch; 6 years - 60 feet with a trunk diameter of 10 inches; 18 years - 82 feet with a trunk diameter of 20 inches; 50 years - 126 feet with a trunk diameter of 2 feet; largest on record - 200 x 110 feet with a trunk diameter of 10 feet.
The pinnate leaves, up to 40 inches in length, are composed of up to 40 ovate to oblong leaflets, up to 8 x 2 inches in size.
The small white flowers appear in clusters during summer.
The bark is pale grayish-brown. The very valuable wood is highly resistant to rot and termites.
Hardy zones 10 to 12 tolerating as low as 30 F. Very drought and moderately salt tolerant.

* photo of unknown internet source

Cedrela serrata ( Hill Toon )
A very striking, fast growing large tree native from the western Himalayas in India to Burma; south to Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Some records include: 10 years - trunk diameter of 10 inches; 27 years - 70 feet with a trunk diameter of 15 inches; largest on record - 100 feet with a trunk diameter of 3.5 feet.
The pinnate leaves, up to 55 inches in length, are composed of up to 33 oblong leaflets, up to 8 x 2.5 inches.
The gray brown bark is deeply ridged.
Hardy zones 9 to 11 ( tolerating as low as 14 F ). It requires an average yearly rainfall exceeding 20 inches.


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