12 February 2014

Melia azedarach is Chinaberry Tree, Texas Umbrella Tree, White Cedar, Persian Lilac, Chinaball

Judy Holly
Melia azedarach is another one of those good ideas that went astray along the way. Chinaberry and four other species are from Asia and north Australia. They are all from the Mahogany plant family of trees and shrubs.  In her Examiner dot com article, Judy Holly said, "Chinaberry trees grow in alkaline soils and survive dry and hot climates so they have been a popular tree in the southwest for many years and are suitable for Las Vegas conditions." And, they are a pretty shaped tree with mildly poisonous fruits. (Who eats these things besides songbirds?) Not harmful to birds who eat the berries until they fall down drunk. In CA it's a hilarious sight for commuters to see the birds drunk along the waysides. The fruits have also been a walking hazard, like pepper trees and other trees that drop hard seed pods.
TX Invasives
 The same poison is in the leaves and an extract has been used as an insecticide. Melia azedarach trees are weak-limbed like other fast growing trees; and, they produce suckers when trimmed. It's grown for timber, the appearance of which can be mistaken for teak.  The trees were introduced to the US in the early 1800s as an ornamental, particularly in SC and GA. It traveled westward, north and south from there. Now it is on invasive species lists from VA to OK -wherever it is warm enough for it to naturalize. However, nurseries sell the trees, the seeds are available, and of course, they love to replant themselves (naturalize) all over. AND, around plant discussion groups, it is still being recommended as a good street tree. Texas Invasives said, "The most effective chemical controls are cut-stump and basal bark applications of triclopyr herbicides. Cut trees left untreated will grow back with several branches emanating from a single stump. Removal of seedlings must include the entire root system."  




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