Skip to main content
A picture of a Chinaberry Tree

Chinaberry Tree

Melia azedarach

Also known as

Syringa, Syringa Berrytree, Cape-Lilac, Indian Lilac, Persian-Lilac, Sichuan Pagoda-Tree, Texas Umbrella-Tree, Lelah, Paraiso, Pride Of India, Tulip-Cedar, Umbrella-Cedar, White Cedar, Pride of China, Bead tree

Melia azedarach 01434 by Anna Anichkova (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Full Sun
Easy care
Moderate watering
Frost Hardy


RHS hardiness


Minimum temperature

Expected size









  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a strong fragrance

More images of Chinaberry Tree

A close up of some orange fruits on a Melia azedarach tree
A close up of some green leaves on a Melia azedarach plant

Chinaberry Tree Overview

Melia azedarach is known by many common names including Chinaberry Tree, Syringa Berrytree and Cape Lilac. This plant is a large spreading tree from the Meliaceae family. It produces attractive, scented lilac flowers which lead onto bead-like fruits. The leaves can reach up to 80cm in length, they are dark green and oppositely arranged on stems. Cape Lilac can grow up to 23m high with reddish-brown, smooth bark. Often grown in South Africa as street trees or in large gardens for shade. The tree is a good source of timber and the dried berries were used as beads. The leaves, bark, flowers and ripe fruit (berries) are poisonous.

Common problems with Chinaberry Tree

Sometimes it will suffer infestations from Scale, Whitefly and sooty mould.

Chinaberry Tree Companion Plants

Under-plant with plants that have strong root systems and love shade.

How to harvest Chinaberry Tree

Generally not harvested.

How to propagate Chinaberry Tree


Seeds germinate easily, sow seed as temperatures warm up in spring in situ or into pots.

Special features of Chinaberry Tree

Drought resistant

The tree can withstand long dry spells.

Attracts useful insects

Attracts bees

Attracts birds

Many birds species feed on the berries and spread them.

Other uses of Chinaberry Tree

Grown for their flowers, foliage and fruits. It is useful for very dry soil and does well in coastal gardens in mild areas.


The main utility of chinaberry is its timber. It has a timber of high quality, but as opposed to many almost-extinct species of mahogany, it is under-utilised. Seasoning is relatively simple, in that planks dry without cracking or warping and are resistant to fungal infection.


Often used as street trees.

Damp | Soil Specific

Explore all