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Melia azederach - L.

Common Name Bead Tree, Pride of India, Chinaberry
Family Meliaceae
USDA hardiness 7-12
Known Hazards The fruit is somewhat poisonous[2, 4, 89]. Ripe fruits are more toxic than green ones[218]. As little as six fruits have caused fatalities in children[274]. All parts of the plant contain toxins that can cause gastric tract irritation and degeneration of the liver and kidneys[274].
Habitats Moist sunny locations[152] to 2700 metres in the Himalayas[51].
Range E. Asia - N. India to China. Naturalized in the Mediterranean.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Half Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Melia azederach Bead Tree, Pride of India, Chinaberry

Melia azederach Bead Tree, Pride of India, Chinaberry


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Bloom Color: Lavender. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Rounded.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Melia azederach is a deciduous Tree growing to 9 m (29ft) by 9 m (29ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 9. It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen from October to November. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


M. japonica.


Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; South Wall. By. West Wall. By.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Leaves  Oil
Edible Uses: Drink  Gum  Oil

Leaves - cooked[2, 105]. A bitter flavour, they are used as a pot-herb, in curries, soups etc[2]. Fruit[2]. A sweetish flavour, it is eaten by children though some people believe it to be poisonous[2]. The fruit is between 1 and 5cm in diameter[200] and contains a single seed[219]. Both these reports, of edible leaves and fruits, should be treated with some caution. The fruit is poisonous according to one report where it says that the ripe fruit is more poisonous than the green fruit and that they have sometimes caused human fatalities[218]. A cooling drink is made from the sap[2] - it is actually a gum[64]. This gum is tasteless, clear to dark amber and of good solubility[64]. The sap is obtained from incisions that are made near the base of the trunk in the spring[2].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Anthelmintic  Antiasthmatic  Antirheumatic  Antiseptic  Aphrodisiac  Astringent  Bitter  Diuretic  
Emetic  Emmenagogue  Febrifuge  Laxative  Lithontripic  Parasiticide  Poultice  
Purgative  Skin  Stomachic  Tonic  Vermifuge

Used externally in the treatment of rheumatism[4, 152]. An aqueous extract reduces the intensity of asthmatic attacks[240]. (This report does not specify the part of the plant that is used[K].) The leaf juice is anthelmintic, antilithic, diuretic and emmenagogue[218, 240]. A decoction is astringent and stomachic[218]. The leaves are harvested during the growing season and can be used fresh or dried[238]. The flowers and leaves are applied as a poultice in the treatment of neuralgia and nervous headache[218, 240]. The stem bark is anthelmintic, astringent and bitter tonic[21, 176, 218]. It is used as a tonic in India[21]. It can be harvested at any time of the year and is used fresh or dried[238]. The fruit is antiseptic and febrifuge[218]. The pulp is used as a vermifuge[227]. The fruit is harvested in the autumn when it is fully ripe and can be used fresh or dried[238]. The seed is antirheumatic[218, 240]. It is used externally. The root bark is emetic, emmenagogue, purgative and vermifuge[21, 176, 218]. It is highly effective against ringworm and other parasitic skin diseases[218]. It can be harvested at any time of the year and is used fresh or dried[238]. A gum that exudes from the tree is considered by some to have aphrodisiac properties[21]. This plant should be used with caution, preferably under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[238]. Excess causes diarrhoea, vomiting and symptoms of narcotic poisoning[238].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Beads  Biomass  Containers  Fuel  Furniture  Gum  Insecticide  Lighting  Oil  Parasiticide  Repellent  Varnish  Wood

The seed contains up to 40% of a drying oil[114]. It is used for lighting, varnish etc[4, 74]. The musk-scented seeds are used as beads in rosaries[1, 51, 89, 158, 245]. The fruits are a source of a flea powder and an insecticide[46, 74]. The whole fruit is ground up and used[61]. The fruit pulp is also used as an insect repellent[149]. The leaves repel mosquitoes and other insects[89, 148, 178]. Wood - tough, durable, moderately heavy, somewhat brittle, handsomely marked, takes an excellent polish. It has a musk-like aroma[245]. It is used for making furniture, packing cases etc[114, 146, 149, 227]. Because it is fast-growing, it is often used as a fuel[272].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Coppice  Food Forest  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Biomass  Industrial Crop: Oil  Industrial Crop: Pesticide  Management: Coppice  Management: Standard  Minor Global Crop

Requires a sunny sheltered position[166]. Succeeds in most well-drained soils and in hot dry conditions[200]. Likes sandy soils[188]. Grows well in mild coastal areas[188]. A very ornamental tree[1], it is not very cold tolerant being killed by temperatures lower than about -5°c[260]. It only succeeds outdoors in the mildest areas of Britain[166], seldom growing larger than a shrub[182]. It is hardy on a sunny wall in S.W. England[11, 219]. It is often cultivated in warmer regions than Britain for its many useful qualities[1]. The flowers are produced on the current years wood and have a delicate sweet perfume[182, 245]. The trees do not normally require pruning[219]. The seeds have a strong scent of musk and the wood is also musk-scented[245]. Trees are very susceptible to forest fire, though they sprout back readily from the roots[229]. They are planted for re-afforestation in their native areas, where they are fast growing though short-lived[200, 229]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Special Features:Not North American native, Invasive, Naturalizing, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Fragrant flowers, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Carbon Farming

  • Industrial Crop: Biomass  Three broad categories: bamboos, resprouting woody plants, and giant grasses. uses include: protein, materials (paper, building materials, fibers, biochar etc.), chemicals (biobased chemicals), energy - biofuels
  • Industrial Crop: Oil  Materials, chemicals and energy include bioplastics, biomass, glycerin, soaps, lubricants, paints, biodiesel. Oilseed crop types.
  • Industrial Crop: Pesticide  Many plants provide natural pesticides.
  • Management: Coppice  Cut to the ground repeatedly - resprouting vigorously. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Seed - sow late winter in a greenhouse. The seed is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn[188, 238]. The seed usually germinates well. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts[78]. Root cuttings[113].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Bead Tree, Chinaberry, Abori esing, Arebevu, Bakain, Bakaina, Bakam limbodo, Bitter lian, Chinaberry, Deikna, Dieng-jah-rasang, Drek, False sycamore, Ghoraneem, Ghoranim, Gringging, Hutchu bevu, Indian lilac, Karinvembu, Ku lian pi, Lian, Lien, Mahanim, Mahanimba, Malai vembu, Mindi kecil, Mindi, Neemtita, Padrai, Paraiso, Pejri, Persian lilac, Pride of India, Sima veppu, Thamaga, Turaka vepa, White cedar, cape lilac, ceylon cedar, china tree, chuan lian zi, cortex meliae, ku lian pi, lian, lunumidella, marimara, sichuan pagoda tree, szechwan chinaberry, texas umbrella, white cedar,

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Algeria, America, Andamans, Angola, Arabia, Asia, Australia, Bahamas, Bermuda, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Britain, Burma, Central Africa, Central America, China, Colombia, Congo, Cook Island, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, East Africa, East Timor, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Europe, Fiji, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, Himalayas, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Laos, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Martinique, Mediterranean, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, New Caledonia, Nigeria, Norfolk Island, North Africa, North America, Northeastern India, Pacific, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, PNG, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Reunion, SE Asia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Southern Africa, South America, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad-Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, USA, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Africa, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

Readers comment

anita sands hernandez   Mon May 06 10:55:25 2002

beads excellent for stringing, six lobed, tradit. used in indian rosary making, malas they call it. the name itself refers to its use as necklace beads. mala being necklace or bracelet or rosary in their language. flower very frag. if pruned, does not produce berries in that next summer. nor flowers. so prune judiciously leaving 2nd year growth where poss. makes lovely floral arrangement. the wood (hard) is useful for rustic arbor and trellis making, many branches can be up to l0 feet tall, straight, up to 2 " wide.

MonkeyBoy   Sun Jun 13 09:23:26 2004

Congratulations, you are a googlewhack - dendrology curries!!!

Bhavesh Atkotiya   Wed Jun 11 2008

Dear Sir, Melia azederach dry seeds botanical contein (HPLC) data/report.

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