Toona ciliata M.Roem

Common Names: Red Cedar, Wudgie-Wudgie (Bundjalung) 

Scientific Name: Toona ciliata M.Roem.

Family: Meliaceae – the Mahogany family


Genus:  Toona – after Toon (Hindi) common name for cedar   

Species: ciliata – fringed with hairs, referring to the hairy tufts on the underside of some leaflets.


Widespread in southern Asia from Afghanistan to Papua New Guinea. In Australia from Cape York to Milton in south-east NSW..

Native Habitat

Sub-tropical and warm temperate rainforest from sea level to 1000m. In Australia formerly most commonly found on basalt derived alluvial flats of the larger east coast rivers.  


A medium to large deciduous tree to 45m with a broad domed crown and buttressed trunk. It has distinctive scaly or flaky bark mottled brown and grey. Leaves are alternate, pinnate with five to seven opposite or irregularly alternate leaflets 4 to 13cm long. Leaves are absent June and August and new spring growth is red. Flowers occur from October to November and are usually white, 5mm long, fragrant and arranged in panicles. Fruit is a capsule containing winged seeds ripening in January to March.

Location in Garden

Bed 9 adjacent to the RBG creek, Native Border. 


Known as Red Gold in the early nineteenth century because of the value attached to its fine and durable timber used in cabinet and furniture making, the expansion of the early frontier on the east coast of Australia was driven in part by the search for these trees. First collected near Rose Hill (Parramatta) in December 1788, they were subsequently harvested on the Hawkesbury River to the north and the Illawarra region to the south before the frontier expanded to the rich sub-tropical rainforests surrounding northern rivers such as the Richmond. As one of the few deciduous trees of the rainforest they were easily spotted because of their distinctive red spring growth. Cedar gatherers, who living in isolated camps, felled the timber before rafting it downstream during times of flood to coastal settlements like Ballina (north) or hauling it with bullock teams overland. Our oldest Red Cedar next to the creek was thought to have been planted in 1822 from a collection by Charles Fraser (Gardens Superintendent 1817-1831), near Parramatta in the city’s west. However recent genetic research conducted by the Gardens suggests that this tree may be from the Dorrigo region north of Sydney, as it displays genetic markers more closely associated with trees from this area. Regardless this tree is over 185 years old and with most of the old growth trees in habitat having been logged or cleared it provides a unique opportunity to reflect on the grandeur of this species and its role in Australian history. 

Must See in the Garden

Recommended by the volunteers

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