Description from Flora of China
Cedrela sinensis A. Jussieu, Bull. Sci. Nat. Géol. 23: 241. 1830; Ailanthus flavescens Carrière ["Ailantus"]; C. glabra C. Candolle; C. longiflora Wallich ex C. Candolle, nom. illeg. superfl. (included type of C. glabra); C. longiflora var. kumaona C. Candolle; C. serrata Royle; C. serrata var. puberula C. Candolle; C. serrulata Miquel; C. sinensis var. hupehana C. Candolle; C. sinensis var. lanceolata H. L. Li; C. sinensis var. schensiana C. Candolle; Mioptrila odorata Rafinesque; Surenus glabra (C. Candolle) Kuntze; S. serrata (Royle) Kuntze; S. serrulata (Miquel) Kuntze; S. sinensis (A. Jussieu) Kuntze; Toona glabra (C. Candolle) Harms; T. microcarpa (C. Candolle) Harms var. denticulata A. Chevalier; T. microcarpa var. grandifolia A. Chevalier; T. serrata (Royle) M. Roemer; T. serrulata (Miquel) Harms; T. sinensis var. grandis Pampanini; T. sinensis var. hupehana (C. Candolle) A. Chevalier; T. sinensis var. incarvillei A. Chevalier; T. sinensis var. schensiana (C. Candolle) H. Li ex X. M. Chen.
Trees to 40 m tall; trunk to 20 m tall, to 1.5 m d.b.h., buttressed. Bark gray to dark brown, fissured; inner bark pink to red, fibrous; sap-wood cream-colored to red, fibrous, smelling strongly of garlic and pepper when cut. Leaves 32-120 cm; petiole 5.5-20 cm, glabrous or pilose; rachis often reddish, glabrous or pilose; leaflets usually 8-20 pairs; petiolules 3-9 mm, glabrescent; leaflet blades narrowly lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, 11-22 × 3-5.6 cm, glabrous or pilose especially on midvein and secondary veins, with club-shaped glandular trichomes conspicuous on adaxial midvein areas and junction between leaf rachis and petiolules, base asymmetric, margin serrate, serrulate, or rarely entire, apex acuminate. Inflorescences to 1 m, pendent; rachis pilose, villous, or glabrescent, with short appressed or spreading simple trichomes. Flowers 3.5-4.5 mm. Pedicel ca. 0.5 mm, pilose to glabrescent. Calyx cup-shaped, 1-1.5 mm, outside glabrous; sepals 0.5-1.1 × 0.6-1.8 mm, margins ciliate. Petals white or flushed pink, 2.8-4.2 × 1.1-2.9 mm, outside glabrous, margin not ciliate. Androgynophore 2.5-4 mm, glabrous; staminodes always present, (1-)5, 0.7-1.8 mm, glabrous; filaments 1.3-1.8 mm (male flowers), 1-1.5 mm (female flowers), glabrous; anthers of male flowers 0.8-1.2 × 0.5-0.8 mm; antherodes of female flowers 0.3-0.8 × 0.3-0.5 mm, apex apiculate and sometimes extended. Disk orange, 1-1.5 mm in diam., glabrous. Ovary 1.6-2.3 mm in diam., glabrous, with to 6 ovules per locule; style 1.1-1.5 × ca. 0.5 mm (male), 0.5-0.8 × 0.3-0.4 mm (female), glabrous; stylehead 0.5-1 mm in diam. Capsule 1.5-3 cm; columella 1.2-2.9 × 0.6-1.1 cm, convex; valves reddish to dark brown, 1.5-3 × 0.4-0.7 cm, smooth or occasionally punctate but not conspicuously lenticellate, with only 0.3-0.5 mm in diam. scattered lenticels. Seeds 0.8-1.6 cm × 3.5-6.2 mm, winged at one end; seed body 0.8-1 cm × 1.7-4 mm. Fl. May-Oct, fr. Aug-Jan.
This is generally an upland species but also occurs at lower altitudes in China. It is planted in India and Sri Lanka for shade, and in various European cities (e.g., Paris) as an ornamental.
The timber is used for furniture and sieve hoop-making, and in bridge construction. The leaves are used as a vegetable in China and Malaysia, and as animal fodder in India. The trees are widely used medicinally, with the bark being used as an astringent and depurative, powdered root as a refreshment and a diuretic, and tender leaves as a carminative.
The leaf morphology and indumentum types and density are particularly variable in this species, with capsule valve form also showing some variability. On the basis of such features, up to eight infraspecific variants have been recognized by other authors.
Primary montane forests, especially on steep hillsides or open slopes, sometimes near streams; also occurring in ravines, mixed or secondary forests, disturbed areas; below 100-2900 m. Anhui, Fujian, S Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, S Shaanxi, Sichuan, SE Xizang, Yunnan, Zhejiang [Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand].