Known as Cedrela sinensis or Toona sinensis (Chinese Mahogany), this deciduous tree is recognized by its vertical stems bearing pink, almost florescent, new growth. The 1-2 foot long leaves with pointed oblong leaflets emerge in many tones of red, in good years bright pink, and then turn to green with age.
It typically grows 15-20 feet but often is cut to the ground to maintain an interesting and colorful lower planting. On older wood the spring-blooming white flowers hang on long clusters below the foliage.
Plant in full sun to light shade and water regularly to occasionally. The Fragrant Spring Tree is best cut to the ground every few years or trim down alternate stems to maintain size within the garden. This tree spreads by rhizomes so be prepared to dig runners to prevent spread or plant inside a root barrier.
The Fragrant Spring Tree is native to eastern and southeastern Asia, from North Korea south through most of eastern, central and southwestern China to Nepal, northeastern India, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, and western Indonesia. The name for the genus comes from the Indian common name for the plant but it has long been known in the horticultural trade as Cedrela sinensis with common names Fragrant Spring Tree, Chinese Mahogany, Chinese Toon, Red Toon or the Chinese Chop Suey Tree.
The young leaves and shoots are used as a vegetable called Hsiang Chun Ya (Xiang Chun Ya in China) and it is also known as a “tree vegetable”. It is in the Mahogany family.