Monday, October 26, 2015


The chinaberry tree that I saw in Malta in the spring of 2014 made me happy. I know this tree from when I was young in Turkey. I seldom came across it back then.  I noticed two trees on a recent trip to Istanbul.  I believe chinaberry is planted sparingly perhaps due to the fact that its fruit, flowers and leaves are poisonous.

Chinaberry tree in Malta in 2014

The adult tree has a rounded crown, and commonly grows between 7–12 meters. Chinaberry is a tree that keeps its fruit from the previous season as it blooms anew. The fruit is a drupe, marble-sized, light beige at maturity.

Melia azedarach by its scientific name, chinaberry is a species of deciduous tree in the mahogany family Meliaceae and it is native to Indomalaya and Australasia Wikipedia informs us.

Indomalaya is one of the eight ecozones on our planet's land surface which extends across most of South and Southeast Asia and into the southern parts of East Asia. Australasia is a region of Oceania that comprises Australia, New Zealand, the island of New Guinea, and neighboring islands in the Pacific Ocean. The term was coined as ‘Australasie’ in French in 1756. (

The small flowers grow in clusters and they have five pale purple or lilac petals. They are very fragrant in springtime.

The leaves are up to 50 centimeters long, alternate, long-petioled, two or three times compound (odd-pinnate); the leaflets are dark green above and lighter green below, with serrate margins.

The fruit is poisonous to humans if eaten in quantity. However, these toxins are not harmful to birds and they gorge themselves on the fruit, eventually reaching a "drunken" state. They then spread the seeds in their droppings. Chinaberry is a fun tree.


  1. Oh! That reminds me of photos I've seen of elephants eating the fermented fruit of the Marula tree..

  2. Monkeys like such fruit also:-)))