Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Chubese Toona, Chinese Cedrela, Chinese Mahogany
Cedrela sinensis

Family: Meliaceae (me-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cedrela (SEED-rel-uh) (Info)
Species: sinensis (sy-NEN-sis) (Info)

Synonym:Toona sinensis

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

11 members have or want this plant for trade.


over 40 ft. (12 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)
over 40 ft. (12 m)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
Direct sow as soon as the ground can be worked
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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3 positives
No neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive coriaceous On Dec 24, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

It looks a lot like an Ailanthus, but the leaves smell of onions. It is fast-growing and adaptable, tolerating road salt and a wide diversity of soils and pH. Clear yellow fall color.

Prefers full sun and good drainage, and the habit is upright-spreading when given space. Can reach 60-70' tall and 30-50' wide.

Dirr reports this has been successfully used as an urban street tree in Philadelphia, Santa Barbara, and Paris (France).

Sometimes suckers and forms colonies. In some places it may self-sow. Its useful lifespan is 60-80 years.

Perfectly hardy in Boston's Arnold Arboretum (Z6a). The Morton Arboretum (Lisle, IL, Z5a) reports annual freeze injury. Dirr reports that it has not fared well in the hot summers at Athens, GA (Z7b/8a).

Hardwood cuttings root easily.

The lumber is fine-grained, reddish-brown, and valuable. It is considered a true mahogany, and valued in fine furniture and interior detail.

The young leaves and shoots are eaten as a vegetable in northern Chinese cooking, and sometimes considered a substitute for garlic. Red-tinted new growth is considered choice.

The tiny flowers aren't ornamentally significant. The woody seedpods are very beautiful when seen close up. The old infructescences fall off the trees in December and can be used in dried arrangements.

For more info:

Negative saltcedar On Nov 19, 2011, saltcedar from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Lacks heat tolerance. 8c to 10c (50f) average annual temps are the best range.
Two year old specimens died after 4 months at 100F. (66f average annual temps)

Positive markdeutsch On Apr 10, 2009, markdeutsch from Pass Christian, MS wrote:

Pass Christian Z9a. I have 4 trees grown from seeds. The biggest is 4 ft. tall and, I think, 3 years old. The small ground planted tree dropped leaves during a summer hot spell, but recovered as conditions moderated. Keep in mind that my water table is down about 20 ft., my soil lacks humus, and it's difficult to maintain moisture in my soil. I put a containerized specimen with its base always in water, and the leaves maintained in 100 F . This showed me that the problem was lack of moisture with the ground-planted one....not high temperature. It's also tolerating soil ph of 5.5

Positive ViburnumValley On Feb 3, 2007, ViburnumValley from Scott County, KY (Zone 5b) wrote:

I admired a specimen of this plant at the University of KY campus for decades, until it was lost to a new building that took it's site.

Chinese Toon will never be a common name rolling off of the average gardener's tongue. It resembles for all the world a peeling-barked Ailanthus, which is not generally a winner in anyone's book. I can't say I ever noticed it when it flowered in all those years, but what I liked about this plant were the interesting dried husks left over after the seeds were released.

I've posted a picture of some of those husks that I collected over 10 years ago. They make great dried decorations (if your cats don't get them).

This tree has been mentioned as very tolerant of landscape extremes, and for having been used as a street tree in such diverse locations as Santa Barbara CA; Philadelphia PA; and Paris, France. So, there you go.

This edit added in June 2009: I traveled through Rochester NY in fall 2008, and at Durand-Eastman Park there are some wonderful groves of Chubese Toona. I didn't find many seed husks that I like so much; maybe there are a lot of playful cats there. Regardless, these were happy uncared-for trees hanging out in the woods with oaks, maples, and a lot of other trees. This park is on relatively sandy glacial soil on the shores of Lake Ontario, probably a solid zone 6a/5b.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Rowland Heights, California
Denison, Iowa
Clermont, Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Pass Christian, Mississippi
Rochester, New York
Portland, Oregon
Centre Hall, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Austin, Texas
Belton, Texas

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