Toona ciliata (Toon Tree)

Scientific name

Toona ciliata M.Roem.


Toona australis (Kuntze) Harms; Cedrela australis F.Muell.; Cedrela toona Roxb. ex Willd. var. australis (F.Muell.) C.DC.; Cedrela velutinaDC.

Common names

Toon tree, toon tree, Indian mahogany, Australian cedar




Tropical Asia, southern China, Himalayas to Australia.

Naturalised distribution (global)

Locations within which Toona ciliata is naturalised include southern and eastern Africa and many oceanic islands with warm climates.

Introduced, naturalised or invasive in East Africa

Toona ciliata is invasive in parts of Kenya (Maundu and Tengnas 2005) Tanzania (Tropical Biology Association) and Kenya (A.B.R. Witt pers. obs.).


Toona ciliata invades forest gaps, plantations, roadsides and riparian zones (banks of watercourses).


Toona ciliata is a fast growing decidious tree with large branches that create a spreading crown. It grows to between 10 m - 30 m in height. The rough bark is grey-brown and cracks into squares. The tree has long compound leaves up to 90 cm with 10-14 pairs of leaflets.  Each leaflet is between 4.5 - 16 cm long.The leaflets are narrow and taper towards the tip. The  inflorescence has masses of white flowers. The individual flowers are very small, white and tubular in shape. The fruits are green capsules, that turn brown with age and split open into star shape, to release seeds. The seeds are small and winged.

Reproduction and dispersal

Toona ciliata reproduces by seed. It is a prolific seed producers and establishes readily.

Economic and other uses

Toona ciliata is widely planted as a shade tree and for timber because it is fast-growing.  It is also drought tolerant. The timber is easy to work and very highly valued.

Environmental and other impacts

Toona ciliata is an aggressive invader that has the potential to suppress the regeneration of native species. T. ciliata has been listed as a Category 3 invader in South Africa (no further planting is allowed - except with special permission - nor is trade in propagative material. Existing plants must be prevented from spreading).


The precise management measures adopted for any plant invasion will depend upon factors such as the terrain, the cost and availability of labour, the severity of the infestation and the presence of other invasive species. Some components of an integrated management approach are introduced below.

The best form of invasive species management is prevention. If prevention is no longer possible, it is best to treat the weed infestations when they are small to prevent them from establishing (early detection and rapid response). Controlling the weed before it seeds will reduce future problems. Control is generally best applied to the least infested areas before dense infestations are tackled. Consistent follow-up work is required for sustainable management.

Seedlings and saplings can be pulled out by hand. Seedlings and young trees can be sprayed with herbicide while adult trees need to be cut just above ground level and an appropriate herbicide applied immediately to the cut stump to prevent resprouting. When using any herbicide always read the label first and follow all instructions and safety requirements. If in doubt consult an expert.

The editors do not know of any biological control programmes targeted at this species.


Not listed as a noxious weed by the state or governments in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.


Henderson L. (2001). Alien Weeds and Invasive Plants: a complete Guide to declared weeds and invaders in South Africa. Agricultural Research Council. Cape Town RSA.

Maundu P and Tegnas B. (2005). eds. Useful Trees and Shrubs for Kenya, World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi.

Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER). Toona ciliata M.Roem., Meliaceae: plant threats to Pacific ecosystems. toona_ciliata.htm. Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, Hawaii, USA. Accessed July 2011.

Tropical Biology Association (2010). Usambara Invasive Plants - Amani Nature Reserve -


Agnes Lusweti, National Museums of Kenya; Emily Wabuyele, National Museums of Kenya, Paul Ssegawa, Makerere University; John Mauremootoo, BioNET-INTERNATIONAL Secretariat - UK.


This fact sheet is adapted from The Environmental Weeds of Australia by Sheldon Navie and Steve Adkins, Centre for Biological Information Technology, University of Queensland. We recognise the support from the National Museums of Kenya, Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI) - Tanzania and Makerere University, Uganda. This activity was undertaken as part of the BioNET-EAFRINET UVIMA Project (Taxonomy for Development in East Africa).


BioNET-EAFRINET Regional Coordinator: [email protected]