Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Toona ciliata M.Roem.

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Flower and buds. © Barry Jago
Flowers. © CSIRO
Leaves and fruit. © CSIRO
Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Roemer, M.J. (1846) Synops. Monogr. 1: 139. Type: Madras, India, W. Roxburgh in herb. Willd. 4828; holo: B-WILLD, iso: BM (6 Nov. 1799)? Fide Mabberley.

Common name

Cedar, Red; Cedar; Red Cedar


Deciduous; leafless for a period between June and August. Both blaze and wood have a faint but rather pleasant aroma (cigar box or incense).


Faint incense-like odour in freshly broken twigs. Leaflet blades about 9-12.8 x 2.5-5 cm. Domatia, if present, are tufts of hairs or foveoles with hairs at the orifice. Young leaves pink-red.


Inflorescence often 30-40 cm long, approximating but seldom exceeding the leaves. Calyx lobes about 1 mm long. Petals about 3.5-4 x 3.5-4 mm. Staminal filaments hairy, about 1.5 mm long, inserted in the hairy, orange disk. Ovary base surrounded by the disk. Ovules about 6-10 per locule. Style short, stigma terminal, +/- peltate.


Fruits glabrous, about 15-20 mm long before dehiscing. Seeds winged at each end, seed (including the wings) about 12-15 x 3-4 mm. Embryo about 5 mm long. Cotyledons wider than the radicle.


Cotyledons elliptic, about 8-10 mm long. At the tenth leaf stage: leaflet blades ovate, apex acuminate, base cuneate or obtuse, hairy on the upper surface at least along midrib, margins serrate, about 3-8 teeth occur along the margin on the upper half of the leaflet blade; petiole and rhachis of compound leaf hairy. Seed germination time 6 to 8 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards to south eastern New South Wales. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 1000 m. Grows in well developed rain forest on a variety of sites but probably reaches its best development (in northern Australia) in upland rain forest on soils derived from basalt. Also occurs in Asia and Malesia.

Natural History & Notes

This species produces the Red Cedar timber of commerce. It has been pursued since the early days of European settlement in Australia. Trees grow rapidly and produce a soft durable timber which is easy to work and has always been prized as a cabinet wood. A lot of the settlement along the East coast of Australia was preceded by cedar getters who were always travelling around looking for new stands of Red Cedar. Logs of Red Cedar float and this attribute was handy in the early days before the construction of roads and bridges. Early attempts on the Atherton Tableland to float cedar logs down the flooded Barron River to the port of Cairns were disastrous with many of the logs being smashed during the passage down the Barron Falls and other floating out to sea.

The timber of this species has always been highly regarded in the manufacture of light-weight racing boats particularly sailing boats and dinghys.

Formerly used in the manufacture of cigar boxes, window frames. A useful carving timber Swain (1928).

Wood specific gravity 0.45. Cause et al. (1989).

Surenus toona (Rottler) Kuntze, Revisio Generum Plantarum 1: 111(1891). Cedrela toona Rottler, Gesellschaft Naturforschende Freunde. Neue Schriften 4 : 198(1803), Type: Madras. Novembr. 6. 1799. Cedrela toona var. australis (F.Muell.) C.DC., Records of the Botanical Survey of India 3 : 368(1908). Cedrela toona var. grandiflora C.DC., Monographiae Phanerogamarum 1 : 745(1878), Type: In Nova Hollandia (herb. Deless.). Cedrela toona var. parviflora Benth., Flora Australiensis 1: 387(1863), Type: Clarence river, Wilcox. Cedrela toona var. vestita C.T.White, Queensland Agricultural Journal Series 2 13: 66(1920), Type: Parishes of Dundas and Byron (Warwick District). Assistant Forester W.E. Moore. Surenus australis (F.Muell.) Kuntze, Revisio Generum Plantarum 1: 111(1891). Toona australis (F.Muell.) Harms, Die Naturlichen Pflanzenfamilien 3(4) : 270(1896). Cedrela australis F.Muell., Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae 1: 4(1858), Type: In silvis litoralibus Australiae orientalis.
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