Also known as
Cape-Lilac, Chinaberry Tree, Indian Lilac, Persian-Lilac, Sichuan Pagoda-Tree, Texas Umbrella-Tree, Lelah, Paraiso, Pride Of India, Tulip-Cedar, Umbrella-Cedar, White Cedar
Melia azedarach 01434 by Anna Anichkova (CC BY-SA 3.0)
This plant has a strong fragrance
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.
Sometimes it will suffer infestations from Scale, Whitefly and sooty mould.
Under-plant with plants that have strong root systems and love shade.
Generally not harvested.
Seeds germinate easily, sow seed as temperatures warm up in spring in situ or into pots.
The tree can withstand long dry spells.
Attracts useful insects
Many birds species feed on the berries and spread them.
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.