If you have Chinaberry, Melia azedarach trees in your area, this is the time of year where you KNOW they are in your area. The yellow berries hanging in clusters at the ends of the stems really stand out. I saw these trees in Virginia and wasn't sure what they were. (this was well before my quest for tree knowledge) The first fall we lived here I noticed a tree along a two-lane numbered road (not really a highway, more of a rural road) that had a few yellow berries. I made note of the area so on the return trip I looked more closely at that tree. Sure enough!! It was a Chinaberry. Since then I have seen others closer to home.
This tree is not native to the United States nor North America. It is a native to Asia, from India to China. It is a member of the Mahogany family and goes by many names- Bead tree (see those berries?), Umbrella tree, and Persian lilac. It is a lovely shaped tree, rounded oval crown, similar to an umbrella (see name above) and doesn't get too tall, only about 40 feet at maturity.
The bark is brown-gray on young trees and has pale gray ridges with orange furrows on the mature tree. The two trees (above and below) are along the same street. Both have been cut back rather severely. The trees are twisted and not really nicely formed. They do show the mature bark. I was driving -- slowly-- when I took these pictures, so they are a little blurry.
The leaves are bipinnate, 7- 10 inches long. The individual leaflets are small, about 2 inches, and sharply toothed. ALL PARTS of the tree are poisonous. It is not only harmful to humans but wildlife as well. According to Floridata website, birds eating too many of these berries can render them paralyzed.
Other sites offer medicinal uses for parts of this tree, one against the herpes simplex virus according to IFAS. Some states have this tree on the invasive list, Texas for one, and Florida does not. It is termed a weedy tree.
Spring flowers are a delicate purple appearing in May - June. The flowers are said to be fragrant. I will have to check that out next spring. The star shaped flowers are lovely.
All those little blooms are future yellow berries.
I was happy to find an uncut specimen along our travels in the Upstate. You can see the form of the tree is indeed an umbrella/ oval crown. Again, a drive-by photo, I wasn't driving this time but the speed limit was 50 MPH and there was someone coming up behind us. Charlie loves these 'slow down so I can take a picture' times.
Thanks for coming along for another Tuesday's Trees. My sources (besides the ones above) are Alien Plant Working Group, VA Tech, Forestry Department, and Duke.
©Copyright 2012 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.