Other common names
Persian Lilac, Chinaberry, Umbrella tree, Bead tree, Cape lilac. Bengali: ghoda neem
Origin of the species name
Melia is the Greek name for the ash tree and is used in allusion to the similarity of the leaves; azedarach is from the name of an ancient poisonous tree, Azadaracht.'Caroline' is the cultivar name for a new Australian selection of Melia with few seeds.
This is a small deciduous or semi ever-green tree with a rounded crown. The compound leaves have dark green leaflets with serrated margins. The small flowers have pale purple and white petals and often grow in clusters. The fruit is round, fleshy and yellow when mature. The 'Caroline' cultivar has been chosen because it produces little fruit. Height 12m. Spread 6m.
Natural distribution and habitat
The species is native to Australia, South East Asia and South Asia. It is typically found in monsoon forests and drier, more seasonal rain forest.
It is not classified as a threatened species.
It produces a useful, soft general purpose timber and parts of the tree are used medicinally, especially in India where is occurs naturally. All parts of the tree, but particularly the inner bark, have been used against intestinal worms and the stem bark material of this species was active against some tumours. The fruit is toxic to humans and stock, though birds aren't adversely affected.
Parallel lines at different angles.