Characteristics of Australian Red Cedar Tree (Toona ciliata) in the Wild

Toona ciliata
Australian Red Cedar or Queensland Red Cedar (Toona ciliata) is a species of tree in the Mahogany family that grows throughout southern Asia, from Afghanistan to Papua New Guinea and Australia.

This tree is known by many names such as Australian red cedar, Queensland red cedar, Burmese cedar, Indian cedar, Moulmein cedar, Indian mahogany, Toon, Toona, Polai, Woolia, Mamin, Mugurpul, Woota, and Ai saria. But more commonly referred to as Australian red cedar, Red cedar, Toon, and Toona.

The tree’s natural habitat is forests from New South Wales and Queensland, but much of it has been extensively logged. The southernmost limit of its natural distribution is on basaltic soil, growing west of the Princes Highway near the village of Termeil, south of Ulladulla, south of Illawarra, and New South Wales. Australian red cedar also grows naturally on Norfolk Island.

Besides growing naturally in forests, Australian red cedar trees are also widely planted in subtropical and tropical areas of the world as shade trees because of their fast growth. It is known, Australian red cedar grows in the Hawaiian Islands, southern and eastern Africa. In parts of Zimbabwe and South Africa, this tree has been naturalized.


Characteristics of Australian Red Cedar Leaf

Toona ciliata Leaf
Source: Chapman

The leaves are compound, each strand 4-16 cm long with 10-14 pairs of leaflets that are narrow and tapering towards the tip.

The Australian red cedar is a deciduous tree native to Australia, with leaves that fall in the fall (late March) and grow back in the spring (early September). New leaf growth is reddish-pink.


Characteristics of Australian Red Cedar Flower

Toona ciliata Flower
Source: Chapman

The flowers are white, very small, and tubular.


Characteristics of Australian Red Cedar Fruit

Toona ciliata Fruit
Source: National Park

The fruit is a capsule, green when young and turns brown when ripe. The seeds are small and winged.


Characteristics of Australian Red Cedar Tree

Toona ciliata Tree
Source: & Fauna of the Mid North Coast of NSW

The Australian red cedar tree can grow to a height of 60 meters and the trunk can reach 3 meters with large branches that create a spreading crown.

The wood is red, easy to work with, and highly valued. It was used extensively for furniture, wood paneling, construction, shipbuilding, and was referred to as “red gold” by Australian settlers.

Unfortunately, Australian red cedar wood was exploited on a large scale in the 19th and early 20th centuries, almost all large trees have been felled and declared commercially extinct. The availability of Australian red cedar is currently limited.


Australian red cedar is generally propagated by seed planting. This tree grows quickly and does best in environments with high light levels.


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