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A picture of a Syringa Berrytree

Syringa Berrytree

Melia azedarach

Also known as

Chinaberry Tree, Bead-Tree, Cape Lilac, Persian Lilac, Indian Lilac, Maksering, Bessieboom, Kaapse Sering (Afr.), Seringboom (Afr.)

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

Full Sun
Easy care
Moderate watering
Frost Hardy

9a

USDA zone

-7°C

Minimum temperature

Expected size

Height
Spread

23m

Max

10m

15m

Min

5m

Flowering

  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a strong fragrance

More images

Starr 070302-4988 Melia azedarach
A photo of Syringa Berrytree
Starr 070830-8213 Melia azedarach

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

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

Companion plants

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

Harvesting

Generally not harvested.

Propagation

Seed

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

Special Features

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.

Uses

Timber

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.

Landscaping

Often used as street trees.