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Melia azedarach

Family

Meliaceae

Botanical Name

Melia azedarach L.

Linnaeus, C. von (1753) Species Plantarum 2: 384. Type: Habitat in Syria.

Synonyms

Melia azedarach var. australasica DC., Monographiae Phanerogamarum 1: 452(1878), Type: ?. Melia composita Willd., Species Plantarum ed. 4, 2: 559(1799), Type: Behaarter Zedrach. W. Habitat in India orientali. ... (v.s.). Melia australasica A.Juss., Memoires du Museum d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris 19: 257(1830), Type: in Novae-Hollandiae (v.s.s. in Herb. mus. ex portu Jackson et freto Dentrecasteux.. Melia dubia Cav., Monadelphis Classis Dissertationes 7: 364(1789), Type: Habitat in India Orientali, unde cum innumeris aliis plantis eam reportavit D. Sonnerat. Melia australis Sweet, Sweet's Hortus Britannicus: 85(1830), Type: ?.

Common name

Tulip Cedar; Cedar, White; Persian Lilac; Karabil; Chinaberry Tree; China Berry; White Cedar; Cape Lilac; Cedar, Tulip

Stem

Deciduous; leafless for a period between June and August. Dead bark layered.

Leaves

Terminal buds and very young shoots clothed in small, brown, stellate hairs. Leaflet blades about 3-6 x 1-2.5 cm. Midrib raised on the upper surface.

Flowers

Sepals clothed in stellate hairs. Petals about 6-10 x 2 mm, narrowly oblong. Stamens about 8-10, fused to form a purple tube. Disk continuous, but not enclosing the ovary. Ovary glabrous. Style glabrous.

Fruit

Fruits obovoid or ellipsoid, about 15-20 x 10-15 mm. Seeds about 6-7 mm long, enclosed in a thick hard bony endocarp. Fruit ripening while the trees are leafless.

Seedlings

Cotyledons linear, about 9-10 mm long. First pair of leaves trifoliolate, leaflets lobed or toothed. At the tenth leaf stage: leaflet blades lobed or toothed, hairy on the upper surface at least on the midrib; petiole and rhachis hairy with simple tortuous hairs; terminal bud clothed in stellate hairs.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ and southwards as far as south-eastern New South Wales. Altitudinal range from sea level to 900 m. Grows in rain forest on a variety of sites. This species is favoured by disturbance and is a conspicuous component of regrowth particularly in some monsoon forests and drier, more seasonal rain forest. Also occurs in Asia, Malesia and the Solomon Islands.

Natural History

This species has caused death in domestic animals and in children. Fruits are most often implicated but the leaves also appear to be toxic. Everist (1974).

Fruit eaten by several species of birds. Cooper & Cooper (1994).

Widely cultivated in gardens and as a street tree. Flowers are a pale mauve followed by yellow fruits.

Stem bark material of this species was active against some tumors. Collins et al. (1990). Although poisonous, parts of the tree are used medicinally, especially in India where is occurs naturally in some areas and is widely cultivated. All parts of the plant, but particularly the inner bark, are used against intestinal worms; in large doses the drug has a narcotic effect on the patient. Cribb (1981).

Produces a useful, non-durable, general purpose timber.

Wood specific gravity 0.46. Cause et al. (1989).

WA

X

NT

X

CYP

X

NEQ

X

Tree

X

RFK Code

105