Trees of Alabama and the Southeast

Lisa Samuelson, Ph.D.
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
Auburn University

Chinaberry
Melia azedarach
Meliaceae

Leaves are alternate, deciduous and bi- or tripinnately compound with toothed or lobed leaflets. Twigs are stout, maroon and shiny with a 3-lobed leaf scar and tan fuzzy buds. Bark is purple-maroon and shiny on young stems and brown and ridged on larger trees. Flowers are purple and showy (small purple firecrackers). Fruit is a yellow-brown, poisonous drupe that persists over winter. Form is up to 15 m (50 ft) in height with an open low crown. Chinaberry has naturalized in open and disturbed areas throughout the southeast and is intolerant of shade. This tree was a popular ornamental in the past and a favorite for tree houses. Although the fruit is poisonous to livestock, it is eaten by some birds.

Photographs by Mike Hogan.

To view examples, click on the thumbnail below: