Scientific: Melia azedarach
Common: Chinaberry
Family: Meliaceae
Origin: Southeastern Asia and northern Australia, naturalized in the tropics of the Americas, in the southeastern United States, and in Hawaii.

Pronounciation: MEL-ee-a a-za-DAR-ich

Hardiness zones
6, 8-24
USDA 7-11

Landscape Use: Large residential deciduous shade tree found mostly in older neighborhoods of Phoenix, nostalgia landscapes.

Form & Character: Deciduous tree, symmetrical, umbrella top, rounded, old fashioned, heavy looking, formal.

Growth Habit: Moderately fast to 30 to 50 feet often with a greater spread.

Foliage/Texture: Alternate, twice pinnately compound leaves to nearly 2 feet long. Leaflets medium green, serrate margins and elliptic in shape tapering to an acuminate tip; medium coarse texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Clusters of lilac colored flowers in spring.   China berry bear fruit in clusters.  Individual fruit are rounded, 3/4 inch wide, yellow, hard and indehiscent (persistent).

Seasonal Color: Heavily lilac fragranced flowers in spring as new leaves emerge, some yellow leaf color in fall.

Temperature: Hardy

Light: Full sun

Soil: Tolerant

Watering: Regular to infrequent during summer, no irrigation is required during the winter.

Pruning: Elevate canopy base and remove root and shoot sucker growth as needed. Some target Texas umbrella tree for the "zats" haircut, otherwise referred to as "pollarding".

Propagation: Seed or stem cuttings.

Disease and pests: Heart rot decomposing fungi (especially prevelant on chronically "zatsed" (poorly pruned) trees), Texas root rot in landscapes whose soils were once used to grow cotten.

Additional comments: China berry is a tough and resilient period tree that was popular prior to 1980, but is now relegated to older neighborhoods of Phoenix including mobile home trailer parks. It can be quite messy (leaves and fruit primarily), but will also take a large amount of neglect. M. azedarach 'Umbraculiformis' (Texas umbrella tree) is more common in the nursery trade and has a distinct rounded form. If allowed this tree can reseed and naturalize in irrigated landscapes.

Invasive Alert: China berry is an invasive tree in many areas around the world including 18 states of the United States.