Toona sinensis, formerly Cedrela sinensis. The Toona tree is also known as Chinese mahogany. Its new growth (xiangchun) serves as a traditional leafy vegetable famous for its nutritional and medicinal qualities. You can cut the new growth for several months in spring and early summer.
The pinker or redder the new growth, the greater the bioactive properties. As you can see from the photo at left, our Toona trees offer fluorescent pink new growth that is showier than any flower. But you can amp up the display by planting mid-season hot pink tulips at the feet of the Toona tree and what gardener doesn't want to do that?
Leaves change color from pink or red to yellow/bronze, then to green. A second flush of leaves follows the first spring growth, so the tree can look a little bare in late spring. Like all plants with powerful medicinal attributes, Toona trees have a distinctive odor that can be quite pungent in close quarters.
It is fascinating to discover how many plants used in traditional Chinese medicine are now being studied for their bioactive properties. Toona roots, bark and leaves have been used for over a thousand years to fight cancer, diabetes, male infertility and liver disease. Scientists at UCLA and Ta-Jen University in Taiwan recently published their findings on the anti-neoplastic effects of gallic acid, one of the major bioactive compounds in toona leaf extract.
Smaller branches are burned in Buddhist temples for their fragrance and larger wood is valued for use in musical instruments and furniture. Since Toona is in the mahogany family, the wood is durable and easy to work.
Pinnately compound leaves are about 2’ long and droop with a tropical flair. Older leaves can become a little battered by late summer. White flowers appear in panicles at the end of branches in summer. In warmer climates Toona grows into sizable clumps. Those clumps can spread, so you need to use a root barrier or dig up runners to keep your Toona in check. Young trees are hardy to about 15 degrees, but you may be able to overwinter in colder areas with protection. Established trees are found as far north as Rochester, NY. To 25’ tall or more and 10’ wide if you contain the roots. Deciduous. Full sun, well-drained location, regular water required. Adaptable to most soils. Fast growing in the ground, slower in a pot.
Shipping is 30% to CA, 35% to OR,Wa,AZ and NV, and 45% to rest of continental U.S.
|Toona sinensis 'Carolyn Yee'|
Our selection of the species. Like its eponym, this cultivar is a memorable specimen with endearing qualities of adaptability, usefulness and exotic beauty. Slightly shorter than the species, with new growth an eye-popping cherry pink. By midsummer the older leaves lose their neon pink coloration and turn green. New growth continues to appear, but lacks the fluorescent luster of spring. Nevertheless this tree continues to provide great landscape value as autumn approaches, with its picturesque haggard appearance. Grown in 5 gal containers, multi-stemmed, about 3' tall as of April 2016. Shipped in 4' x 1' x 1' braced containers. TEMPORARILY OUT OF STOCK.