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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Melia azedarach - Chinaberry

The Chinaberry tree is a small to medium deciduous tree with an upright to spreading crown hitting 20 - 40'. Grown for its beautiful fruit and interesting flowers. Considered a weed in its native Australia, so be careful. Not commonly encountered here.



Leaves are deciduous, alternate, bipinnately compound, up to 20" long, glossy, leaflets 2" long, elliptical, serrated. Rachis and petiole green.




Flowers are purple, fragrant, in loose clusters about 1/2" to 1" wide. Borne in the spring.

Fruit is a yellow drupe ripening in the fall, maturing in late fall to winter. Poisonous to humans if eaten in quantity. Makes for a nice show, but more likely messy. Birds love them.



Stems are stout, reddish brown with lenticels, interesting leaf scars, and almost white buds, terminal bud lacking as seen below.



Bark is greenish brown, reminds me of Laburnum bark.



Misidentification:
Bipinnate leaves are not that common, especially with these fruit or blue flowers.

Location:
Watsonville
Sierra Azul Nursery display gardens.

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