This is my tenth post in the Native Trees of Pakistan series. Today, I am featuring Melia Azedarach.
Melia Azedarach is a fast-growing but short-lived tree. Also known as Chinaberry, Persian Lilac, White Cedar, Ceylon Cedar and Bead Tree, Melia Azedarach belongs to Meliaceae family and grows widely in Pakistan, India, southern China, and Australia. Local names are Bakain and Dharek or Dhraik.
Melia Azedarach is a medium-sized tree that produces dense, shady and well rounded canopy. In landscapes, Melia Azedarach is usually pruned to form an umbrella shape. The tree can be cut back to its trunk or to main branches near the trunk form where its produces thick cluster of branches. A mature tree can usually gain a height of 12 meters in height in a few years; the tree does not last long and starts dying at the age of 20 years.
Melia Azedarach is a tough survivor and is usually grown in gardens or as a street tree where it provides cool shade on hot summer days. The tree produces bright and lush green foliage in spring followed by beautiful clusters of tiny, pale-purple or lilac blooms that draw attention to their presence by their delightful fragrance. The cherry-like green fruits grown abundantly and hang until they wrinkle and turn yellow. Melia Azedarach sheds all of its leaves in winter revealing fruit bunches. The fruit is poisonous for humans, if taken in large quantity. Intake of Melia Azedarach fruits results in loss of appetite, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, bloody faeces, stomach pain, pulmonary congestion, cardiac arrest, rigidity, lack of coordination and general weakness and death that can take place after about 24 hours of intake.
Melia Azedarach closely resembles the Azadirachta Indica orNeem tree. Like other members the Meliaceae family, Melia Azedarach, produces good quality timber. It can be easily seasoned and used to make furniture. It is naturally resistant to pests and fungal infection. Extract from the bark and fruit has pharmacological properties and is used to kill parasitic roundworms.