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  • Writer's pictureSimon & Lorraine Freeden

What is Australia's first export?

Red Cedar, (Toona ciliata) is a world class furniture building timber and a beautiful tree.

It was called red gold back in the early days of white settlement. Red Cedar grows in sub-tropical and tropical rainforests of eastern Australia and is part of the Big Scrub rainforest of which there is less than 1% left.

The species can grow to around 60 m (200 ft) in height and its trunk can reach 3 m (10 ft) in girth with large branches that create a spreading crown. It is one of Australia's few native deciduous trees, with the leaves falling in autumn (late March) and growing back in spring (early September). The new leaf growth is reddish pink in colour.

The only big Red Cedar trees left in the Northern Rivers are in the Border Ranges and the Richmond Range and these trees were left because they were just too hard to get.

Plantations of Red Cedar were established in the early days but failed to grow properly because of a native moth lava that ate the growing tips, pruning the trees and turning them into shrubs which made them useless as a timber tree.

The good news is if you plant 20 or 30 different local rainforest trees and plant the Red Cedar in amongst the other species they seem to grow well and not be affected by the moth.

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