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It grows fast.
Provides useful summer shade and allows light through in the winter, and retains the berries all throughout the winter, dropping them around spring.
Melia azedarach L.
English: Chinaberry, China Tree, Pride of India, Indian Lilac, Bead Tree, Texas Umbrella Tree
Main Synonyms: Melia australis Sweet, M. japonica G. Don and M. sempervirens Sw.
Family: Meliaceae (Mahogany family)
Country of origin: Himalaya (N India and W China).
Found in: Village squares or other different public places (e.g. Balluta Bay, St. Juliens), very rarely naturalised in or close to urban areas.
Occurrence in the Maltese Islands: Frequent.
Flowering time: Late spring-early summer.
Description: A deciduous round tree, reaching up to 14 m in height. The bark of the branches is a dark purplish-brown, dotted with grey lenticels. Leaves are alternate, doubly pinnate compound (having leaflets on leaflets), and 30-60 cm long. Leaflets are ovate to oblong, toothed and sometimes winged, 3-7 cm long. The leaf colour is dark glossy green above, and light greenish beneath, turns bright yellow before falling in autumn. The trees bloom with purple or lilac flowers, which are arranged in large panicles. The flowers of those fairly showy clusters are supported with 5 spreading petals surrounding a tube. The flowers are about 2 cm in width and aromatic. The fleshy fruits are yellowish-cream coloured when ripe. They are marble-sized round drupes, 1.5 cm in diameter, becoming brownish leathery, and hang attractively from the bare branches, throughout the winter. Fruits and seeds are very poisonous.
Remarks: The striking and colourful Chinaberry tree accepts a variety of soils. It can withstand some frost, and tolerate drought, full sun or partial shade. Because its seeds are spread by fruit-eating birds, Chinaberry can be invasive, growing in some Mediterranean regions as shrubby trees in waste yards and abandoned areas.