Melia Species, Bead-Tree, Cape Lilac, Chinaberry, Indian Lilac, Persian Lilac, Syringa Berrytree

Melia azedarach

Family: Meliaceae (me-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Melia (ME-lee-uh) (Info)
Species: azedarach (az-ee-duh-rak) (Info)



Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Grown for foliage



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

over 40 ft. (12 m)


30-40 ft. (9-12 m)


USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers


Seed is poisonous if ingested

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Bloom Size:

Under 1"

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From softwood cuttings

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Atmore, Alabama

Tuskegee, Alabama

Vincent, Alabama

Hereford, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona(2 reports)

Acton, California

Delano, California

Fontana, California

Manhattan Beach, California

Oak View, California

Shafter, California

Bartow, Florida

Boca Raton, Florida

Brooksville, Florida(2 reports)

Ellenton, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Homestead, Florida

Lecanto, Florida

Miami, Florida

Orlando, Florida

Pensacola, Florida

Port Charlotte, Florida

Sebring, Florida

Tampa, Florida

Moreland, Georgia

Statesboro, Georgia

Hessmer, Louisiana

Pollock, Louisiana

Thibodaux, Louisiana

Mathiston, Mississippi

Alamogordo, New Mexico

Fuquay Varina, North Carolina

Greenville, North Carolina

Grenoble, Rhône-Alpes

Conway, South Carolina

Prosperity, South Carolina

Aubrey, Texas

Austin, Texas(2 reports)

Corpus Christi, Texas

Dallas, Texas(2 reports)

De Leon, Texas

Decatur, Texas

Desoto, Texas

El Paso, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Garland, Texas

Grand Prairie, Texas

Harlingen, Texas

Houston, Texas

Kerrville, Texas

Liberty Hill, Texas

Mcallen, Texas

Odessa, Texas

Port Aransas, Texas

Rockport, Texas

San Antonio, Texas(2 reports)

Dniprovka, Zaporiz'ka

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jul 11, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This species is on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council's Invasive plant list.


On Jul 10, 2016, au1955 from Lakewood, CA wrote:

The neighbor behind me (in Southern California) has allowed chinaberry trees to grow, uncontrolled, in his backyard. They are fast-growing, invasive, and destructive! The chinaberry trees have choked out and killed a mature lemon tree that was in the back corner of my yard, and I'm about to lose a rose bush. The chinaberry root system is very strong, and I'm sure there's a strong network of chinaberry roots running under my backyard. Weekly, I pull up new sprouts from my yard, as well as new shoots that are trying to make their way through the bottom of a block wall. The tree is also damaging the block wall that runs between our properties, as well as damaging the corner supporting post where the walls of four yards join. In fact, the tree cracked the corner post and bees found their way i... read more


On Nov 12, 2015, Mimi11440 from Brooksville, FL wrote:

Zone 9a Central Florida (Hernando County) Chinaberry Tree is the WORST TREE EVER! True definition of a weed tree! I've had many of the ones people say are bad (Bradford Pear, Weeping Willow, Mimosa, Black Walnut, etc) and NONE were near as bad as this one! The ONLY thing that's good about them is they give shade and ANY tree will do that! Extremely messy-always dropping something: leaves, stems, flowers, or huge amounts (thousands) of drupes (aka marble sized toxic-to-humans berries). They get about 30 to 50 foot tall and have weak limbs that break easily (I mean just the weight of the drupes will break large branches!) contributing to the mess. They say the tiny, can't-but-barely-see flowers smell good, but even when it's full of them-I've never smelled them and their litter gets everywhe... read more


On Nov 1, 2013, realityfaery from Delano, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

We had gotten one more than 7 years ago from my grandmother and only knew it as an Umbrella Tree. I have loved the shape and how quickly it grows. Yes, it makes a mess, but not horribly, an easy sweep and the seeds are picked up and thrown away. We also find seedlings popping up where ever a seed managed to escape to, but simply pulling it out rids you of an unwanted tree. I had actually dug up a few seedlings and growing them to transplant once they are big enough. I had never known they were poisonous until now and luckily, we have always treated it like it was. Good thing the dogs never pay any mind to it.


On Oct 21, 2013, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Though this is a highly invasive tree, and very toxic, I have mine out front where the dogs never go, and NOTHING is invasive in my climate (I would LOVE to find an invasive tree here... even trees of heaven are not invasive here!). But I have to say of all the trees I have planted in my hellish climate, this is about the only one that consistently looks good, deep green and unfazed by the arid, constant winds, super draining soils and baking heat/freezing cold. It's frankly an amazing species to me and I am probably going to get more of them... other than Shinus mole (Pepper trees) nothing else grows well here (save maybe a few super slow conifers, and various perennially looking dead natives).


On May 10, 2012, Faelyn from Hamburg, MI wrote:

Just left Monticello home of Thomas Jefferson where they have planted the pride of china trees. Seems they are doing well! Not sure what zone Virginia is.


On Aug 12, 2011, BUFFY690 from Prosperity, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Our Chinaberry trees roots began growing many mile from home it made the tripp from Ga, to SC with no problem about 3 years ago it was about 5 inches tall at that time. It has since been thru deer breaking it down, eating not only the foilage but the branching parts as well. It has not gotten to a height that it is almost past where the deer graze. It has done a great amount of groing this year almost 18 inches. Hoping to have it flower and maybe seed as here it gets so hot and dry and this doesn't seem to phase this tree at all. Hoping for seeds also so the kids can have the experience of making some natural jewelry. This plant found a home in our yard because of my mother's love for this particular tree, she has no reasoning for it and complains when she see's trees in other places... read more


On Oct 25, 2009, seanjs from Orlando, FL wrote:

Theres nothing worse than a cluster of fruit smacking you in the head or your bare feet landing upon a mushy cluster. Doesnt get along well with high winds and throws branches throughout the year, including older branches which tend to prefer softening their landing upon the neighbors house. The messiest tree Ive ever seen. Also one of the ugliest trees when all of the leaves have fallen. Squirrels absolutely love the unripened fruit still on the tree. Despite the setbacks, its one of the earliest trees to leaf out and bloom. The blooms are pleasantly fragrant although not too conspicuous, and are the only positive of this plant for me. We have one that was planted when this house was built over 60 years ago and the trunk is massive. A group of woodpeckers have excavated a nest and return ... read more


On Sep 12, 2009, JoyfulSeason from Kerrville, TX wrote:

I guess one man's meat is another's poison. I have only lived in Texas for four years, but I really admire these trees. They grow along fence lines and wherever birds perch. Drought doesn't seem to phase them. Not knowing that the Chinaberry is locally considered an undesirable, I cultivated a volunteer that I discovered in a plant island on my property. In the four years I have lived here, it has grown from a three foot sappling to about 30 feet. Our climate is zone 7b here in Kerrville (some say it's zone 8), and, although this tree is late to leaf out in the spring, and early to lose its leaves in the fall, it thrives in our shallow, alkaline soil. The local birds use the dropped leaf twigs for nesting material (our Purple Martins love it!). Its shape is lovely, and even though ... read more


On Jun 24, 2009, DisHammerhand from Fontana, CA wrote:

This tree has a very dense crown and a neat appearance. The flowers and twisting trunk are attractive. I give it a neutral because of its weedy nature and short life.


On May 19, 2009, Agaveguy from San Antonio, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

An aggressive, foreign, weed tree. Displaces native trees and other plants. Very brittle wood, susceptible to breakage. Short lived for a tree.


On Apr 2, 2009, texasflora_com from De Leon, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I've been around these trees my entire life. Yes, they are considered trash trees and yes, they can suddenly die and the fruit is really messy. However, the wood is suprisingly overlooked and is similar in appearance to Burmese teak. The wood doesn't crack when drying like most other woods. You can read more about that aspect on wikipedia. I've found the pluses to outweigh the deficits since it does provide needed shade and very quickly. Contrary to what the description here says, bees and butterflies don't much care for the tree. Birds like the fruit but get very drunk from it. My mother's front yard has a Chinaberry but I've never seen a sucker from it, only a couple of trees from seeds.

Update: Today I checked the seeds and there is NO hole in them. And they would have ma... read more


On Jan 20, 2009, wormfood from Lecanto, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Not invasive here, I have more live oak and mimosa and raintree... I have 3 volunteers in the yard in different places, probably planted by squirrels in the 6 years I've had this tree. Bring a sprig of flowers into the house, permiates a heavenly aroma.


On Oct 8, 2008, cactus_lover from FSD,
Pakistan (Zone 10b) wrote:

It is also known as Drek, Bakain, in Pakistan and India.


On Jul 2, 2008, green_ice from Hong Kong,
China wrote:

This tree's a native tree where I'm from. The seeds have a natural hole in the middle. People string them into good luck charms in the old days. Hence the name 'bead' tree.


On Dec 13, 2007, Lily_love from Central, AL (Zone 7b) wrote:

In early spring-summer, I've first noticed these group of trees growing along a pathway. I was taken by surprised to see them grow at a very fast pace. One day the flowers took me by surprise, beautiful tiny lilac flowers born in clusters. I tried to take pic. but never was success with cellphone's camera....Now that it's at the end of the season. Once again the same trees surprised me with those bead-like fruits. They appear attractive on an open naturalized area. Soon or later the trees maybe irradicated by one mean or the other....I can only admire its beauty from a distance.


On Dec 10, 2007, ltcollins1949 from Rockport, TX wrote:

Melia azedarach L. It also goes under other common names including persian lilac, chinaberry, Chinaberry tree, Chinaberrytree, Indian lilac, lelah, paraiso, pride of India, white cedar. It is considered an invasive by the Invasive Species organization and by the Invaders of Texas organization. Please do not plant it as it is highly invasive.

Thank you!


On Jan 30, 2007, escambiaguy from Atmore, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

Pretty much an invasive trash tree here that grows on roadsides and in ditches. I can't imagine anyone actually planting these.


On Dec 27, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Bead Tree, Persian Lilac, Pride of India, Pride of China, Chinaberry, Umbrella Tree, White Cedar Melia azedarach is naturalized in Texas and other States and is considered an invasive plant in Texas.


On Sep 6, 2006, annrobert from Clayton, NC wrote:

I seem to recall this tree growing at my Grandmother's home in Statesville, NC. I remember my mother helping me make a string of beads from the seeds. Did I dream this, or do the seeds have natural holes that can be used for stringing? If anyone knows about this let me know. I also remember the tree being like a large umbrella (to a kid), and very good for climbing.


On May 20, 2006, 44anne from Odessa, TX wrote:

I find the Chinaberry to be a welcome addition to my yard
here in west Texas. We are not exactly overrun with shade
out here and the thick canopy and fast growth is much
appreciated. Pluses are the lovely bark, somewhat exotic
form, if not deadheaded, and beautiful sweet-smelling spring
blooms. I understand they are somewhat short-lived and
brittle trees, but except for the messy berry litter in fall and
having to pull or scrape out numerous seedlings, I really do
love my Chinaberry.


On Mar 9, 2006, Gustichock from Tandil,
Argentina (Zone 10b) wrote:

Oh my Gosh! Did any one of you guys smell the fleshy fruit after it ripens? This drupe has such a bad odor that could make anybody puke! Well, I admit it! Im exaggerating! But it really reeks!
May be it has some concentrated butyric acid! Thats how it smells to me! It reminds me of Ginkgo biloba seeds!
I guess its good contrast is its flowers perfume! Mmmm!! Delicious!! So I must go neutral on it!


On Dec 30, 2004, Henrie from Elm City, NC wrote:

During my childhood on an eastern North Carolina farm (zone 7 -- near zone 8), two China-berry trees played an essential role in our landscape. One was in the backyard and the other in the side yard. Both had trunks of 2.5 to 3 feet or more in diameter and furnished welcome shade. Unfortunately, both were downed by Hurricane Hazel in 1954 as were 7 of 15 oaks of similar size. Never again have I encountered the China-berry tree of such size. Finally, after retirement, I have an opportunity and sufficient property to plant another China-berry tree.


On Sep 2, 2004, ButterflyMom21 from San Antonio, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I think this tree has beautiful form, and stands apart from the other "natural" hickory and walnut and oak trees all over my property. It has such a nice canopy, and dark foliage. Very attractive, although my property was cleared of chinaberry seedlings prior to my obtaining it... there are dozens along the road to my home, and gosh-darnit one of these days I am digging up one of those baby trees or "borrowing" its seeds and making it my own!


On Aug 25, 2004, Delilah from North Las Vegas, NV wrote:

Here in Las Vegas, Nevada it's almost impossible to find a good shade tree that's legal to grow. This tree is such a blessing!!! Wait 'till it's 115 degrees and see how much you'll appreciate it. It's also a beautiful tree when you keep the suckers to a minimum and plant distant sprouts everywhere--we sure need all of the shade, oxygen, beauty and drought tolerance we can get!! Don't plant where Texas root rot has previously killed other trees.


On Jun 5, 2004, dkhoover from Jamul, CA wrote:

SAN DIEGO, CA AREA. Growing in El Cajon since the 1950's that I know of. A friend of my Grandfather had 5 or 6 on his property and I dug up some shoots and planted where I live in Jamul in 1975. I have 5 planted in a row in my front yard at the edge of the lawn, about 15 feet between trunks, and just added another one on the end. Also have 3 others on the property, and two other small ones I have managed to start but have not transplanted to another place yet. The 5 together, if I go behind my home up on the hill at about the height of the top of the Chinaberries, it looks like someone took a lawn mower and went across the top of the all. The are all exactly the same height and flat across the tops of them. About 30 feet tall. Until last May of 2004, I had always know them as Umbre... read more


On May 13, 2004, johnincentex from Harker Heights, TX wrote:

As a tree it is extremely aggressive both via suckers and seeds. If you have one be prepared to have hundreds of sprouts trying to grow everywhere. It does not stop spreading. If you ever saw the Star Trek TV episode "the trouble with tribbles" then you know what this tree is like. It is so aggressive, I am trying to figure out ways to get rid of it. Flowers are pretty, but it is NO BUG REPELLER. Standing under one is an invitation to be bitten. Just like any tree in Central Texas.When it gets warm. LOL It is very winter hardy here near Ft. Hood Texas. It has absolutely no problem handing zone 8 winters. It is THRIVING without any nurturing at all. This is the opposite of a delicate tree in every way.


On May 2, 2004, Opoetree from Oak View, CA wrote:

These trees grew on my farm in Shafter, California. We called them umbrella trees. Later, when I was interested in learning more about them, I located the name "Chinaberry". I thought they were fine trees, and I had a swing on one branch. They made the prettiest flowers! When I moved away from Shafter, I didn't see any of these trees until moving to Oak View. So, they do grow in Central and Southern California. Thanks for the memories! (I even wrote a poem about the chinnaberries once......they get hard and you can rap them for a percussive beat)


On Mar 11, 2004, Paulwhwest from Irving (Dallas area), TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Here in Texas (zone 8a) it grows quickly, makes tons of weedy little seedlings, and scatters its berries EVERYWHERE!


On Jan 12, 2004, xyris from Sebring, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This tree is a very invasive and fast growing species in central Florida. The wood is very weak, the form is unattractive, and seedlings pop up everywhere. As for hardiness, it is perfectly hardy in zones 8, 9, and 10, and is damaged by only the most severe freeze years in zone 7, probably indicating that it is technically hardy in zone 7, to 0 degrees F or below.


On Jul 11, 2003, BrownZone8 from Statesboro, GA wrote:

This tree grows like a weed all over Georgia, especially in the southern portion. It is a common site along fence rows, ditch banks, and the edges of fields. It is a very fast growing tree that can get out of hand quickly. Oftentimes it is seen growing in big bunches and drops hundreds of it's yellow marble sized fruit every year.


On Jun 16, 2003, kennedyh from Churchill, Victoria,
Australia (Zone 10a) wrote:

The common name White Cedar which has just been added to the names of this tree, is a strange one, seemingly quite unrelated to the plant, which is not at all like a Cedar in appearance, nor remotely related to it.
The name is however the most widely used name in Australia, where it is a native species, at least in Queensland.
The derivation of the name is as follows. A closely related tree, Toona australis, is an important timber tree for its extremely decorative wood, which is reddish in colour and resembles the timber of the true cedar's. This tree was therefore given the inappropriate name of Red Cedar. Melia azederach is in the same family as Toona australis, but its timber is whitish rather than reddish, so by association it was called White Cedar.


On Jan 21, 2003, Lavanda from Mcallen, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

These trees have naturalized as far north in the United States as North Texas to Oklahoma, maybe farther north. They are cold-hardy at least to zone 7, maybe colder.


On Aug 18, 2002, Baa wrote:

A fast growing deciduous tree from India to China.

Has pinnate or bi-pinnate leaves up to 2ft long, the leaflets are ovate, toothed, sometimes lobed and mid-light green. Bears many small, star shaped, scented, lilac/pinkish flowers. The flowers are followed by slow maturing yellow drupes which some birds enjoy.

Flowers April - June

Loves well drained, fertile, preferably alkaline soils in full sun. Will not tolerate cold winds or frosts and is only hardy down to 45F. It's easily pruned to restrict growth and can be kept in a warm greenhouse or indoors in frost prone climates.

It has some medicinal uses and has some efficacy in treating virii such as Herpes. It's also been used as an insect repellent, antiseptic and diuretic, howev... read more