Chinaberry
Melia azedarach

Secondary Names:
umbrellatree, umbrella tree, Indian-lilac


Leaf Type: Deciduous
Texas Native:
Firewise:
chinaberry150.jpg
Tree Description:

A common shade tree of old homesteads and unmaintained areas that reaches 40 feet tall and up to 2 feet in diameter, with a dense, rounded crown.

Range/Site Description:

Native to Persia and southeast Asia, chinaberry prefers moist, rich, well-drained soils and has naturalized throughout central and east Texas, especially along riverbottoms and streams.

Leaf:

Dark green, glossy, alternate and compound, with a terminal pinna and leaflet. Leaflets 1" to 2" long and half as wide, coarsely toothed or sometimes lobed. Leaves and twigs without prickles or spines.

Flower:

Lavender, sweet-smelling, appearing as 10" long branching clusters of half-inch flowers.

Fruit:

Drooping clusters of round, yellowish berries, about 0.5" in diameter. Birds eat the fruits after they become soft and spread the seeds widely.

Bark:

Dark brown and smooth on young stems, breaking into scales, then flattened, shiny ridges on older trunks.

Wood:

In Asia the species is used for cabinets; the dried seeds were once used for rosary beads.

Similar Species:

Chinese flametree (Koelreuteria bipinnata) has yellow flowers; goldenraintree (K. paniculata) has single-compound leaves; devil's-walkingstick (Aralia spinosa) has sharp prickles on leaves, branches, and stem.

Interesting Facts:

One of the top ten invasive exotic species in Texas.

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