Toona sinensis 'Flamingo'

Wishlist: Toona sinensis ‘Flamingo’

by Andrew Keys on January 7, 2010

Pronunciation // I don’t know how I found it, and I’m a bit unnerved that it bears such a close resemblance to dastardly tree of heaven, but this much I do know: Toona sinensis ‘Flamingo’ is a tree, and it’s pink. It’s big, it’s bad, and it’s pink. And that makes it badass.

It is also known, fabulously, as toon tree. If that doesn’t make you want to run right out and buy one (if you can find it), I don’t know what will. Hardy to Zone 5, from what I gather they’re pretty easy to come by in New Zealand, and I’ve found them for purchase on European sites. One grows someplace at RHS Wisley, so keep an eye out for it in spring if you visit, as foliage ages from pink to green through the growing season.

According to Wikipedia, young species toon foliage is valued for salad in its native China and has an oniony flavor. I’m not sure you’d want to harvest ‘Flamingo,’ but I bet it’d be great for punk cooking. Wood of the species is used for furniture, commonly called Chinese cedar or Chinese mahogany. It also goes by Cedrela sinensis in Latin, and I believe it may be an invasive species in California.

Toona is a member of the family Meliaceae, the mahogany family, along with the chinaberry tree Melia, an invasive species I have loved, and Swietenia, the true mahogany used to make furniture I’m sure we’ve all loved.

Here’s a dreamy slideshow of Toona photos on Flickr you won’t want to miss

Huge thanks to Flickr user Tony Rodd for providing the photo here and many of your terrific plant photos for use under Creative Commons.

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