Melia azedarach

Secondary Names:
umbrellatree, umbrella tree, Indian-lilac

Leaf Type: Deciduous
Texas Native:
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.


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.


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


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


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


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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