The MGS Forum

Plants for mediterranean gardens => Trees and Shrubs => Topic started by: John on October 05, 2011, 08:28:21 AM

Title: Melia azedarach
Post by: John on October 05, 2011, 08:28:21 AM
I took these pictures whist waiting at a huge hotel near Antalya for the flight home after the ash cloud two years ago. Though highly scented I don't believe that I liked the scent of this tree though the flowers are rather attractive. It is very poisonous, even the berries (drupes) to us humans but birds can eat the fruits. Apparently the wood is rather good but it is in the Mahogany family Meliaceae.
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: John J on October 05, 2011, 08:52:04 AM
John, how can you say you don't like the scent of the Melia? As you say the berries are poisonous to all mammals except fruit bats, they love them. We used to get Egyptian friut bats swooping around one of our trees but haven't seen them for a few years now. I believe they are in decline on the island for several reasons, especially habitat, ie roosting, loss. I have heard it said that the berries make birds drunk but I have never seen any eating them or witnessed intoxicated sparrows staggering around the yard! The branches are quite brittle and smaller ones are prone to breaking in high winds. In Cyprus it is known as Μαυρομματα, Dark Eyes, from the darker centre to the flowers.
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: MikeHardman on October 05, 2011, 10:05:39 AM
I guess scent is subjective. I'm with you JohnJ - I like it.
But then I also like the smell of old bus garages - where the concrete has been drip-fed diesel for decades! Go figure!

(As a kid, I used to collect bus and coach numbers; had those Ian Allen books listing them all; there were often rarities to be found lurking in bus garages, eg. sludge gulpers, or antique double-deckers like 'Old Bill' which would come out only for tourist events, the Epsom Derby, etc.)
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: John on October 05, 2011, 10:18:11 AM
Now I think of it the scent was pleasant from a distance but not close to. I can't recall having been in a bus garage!
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: Alisdair on October 05, 2011, 10:45:56 AM
It's an excellent tree for mediterranean-climate gardens, thriving without water and staying quite reasonably sized - not reaching the great size it can reach in the tropics.
In our hot Greek garden it seeds itself around a bit (not aggressively), and the seedlings survive and grow on without supplementary water.
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: David Bracey on October 05, 2011, 08:50:09 PM
Another great tree with all year round interest especially the hanging fruits which last through winter.  Unfortunately they are grown on very long stems which can make them ungainly, I think.  Blue flowers and strong scent.  Shade can be thin from a Melia.
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: MikeHardman on October 05, 2011, 09:13:17 PM
David, yes I agree the shade is thin. I rather like that. It gives a bit more chance for herbage to grow beneath it (not just when it is not in leaf). It is also echoed in the narrow-petalled flowers, hence giving them a certain complementariness.
This was one of several growing at The Last Castle restaurant on the edge of the Akamas Peninsula, 3may2007.
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: Hilary on October 06, 2011, 11:47:09 AM
There are several Melia azedarach trees growing in Corinth.
Some are in the pavements, some in yards and one growing through the remains of an old lath and plaster house which has collapsed.
My neighbours call them "paskalia" as they are usually in flower during the Easter period.
Little boys used to make pea shooters and shoot the hard dry berries at each other. Can't say I have seen them do that lately
The first photo with both the fruit and flowers was taken in May outside the site of Ancient Corinth.
The second photo was taken this week near the temple in Ancient Corinth. This tree was nearly leafless while another Melia, maybe 4 meters lower in the site, was still very green
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: John J on October 06, 2011, 01:20:53 PM
Here's one of those examples of confusing common names, even within countries that share the same language. In Cyprus the Melia is known as Dark Eyes (Mavromata) while the name Paskalia is given to the lilac (Syringa vulgaris) for the same reason as quoted by Hilary, it traditionally blooms at Easter. Admittedly it fares better at the higher altitudes, 600 - 1700m.
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: Alisdair on October 06, 2011, 01:52:20 PM
... and to add to the confusion, Melia azedarach is even sometimes called Persian lilac!
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: GRJoe on May 16, 2012, 10:04:06 PM
I also noticed the light shade, of say 40%. “In El Salvador, it is grown in coffee plantations to provide shade.”
More names yet are Chinaberry, Pride of India, and for the French “Margousier/Acacia d’Egypte”!
Should it be considered a tropical tree? All samples I saw in tropical Africa were disappointingly slender. The ones in Greece look much happier.
It is a close relative to the Neem tree (Azadirachtia), so I wonder if it can make an interesting addition to compost or on the contrary it should be avoided  ???
In winter, the bare tree with hanging yellow beads looks somehow lugubrious. As for the scent, I fully share John J’s opinion.
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: MikeHardman on May 17, 2012, 07:26:47 AM
GRJoe - that's a very interesting comment; thanks. I had never heard of the neem tree, but now I look it up, I find it has a very impressive list of uses (, even if some of them are a bit putative.
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: John J on May 17, 2012, 10:06:17 AM
This may not be the right place to post this but Joe's mention of the neem tree took me way back to my teenage years when I first encountered the books of John Masters with his stories set in the Indian sub-continent of the British Raj. I was intrigued by the strange names of the trees he mentioned, completely unfamiliar in the Derbyshire of that time. Names like neem, peepul, sal and gold-mohur. Over the years, especially the 3 spent in Singapore, I came to learn what their botanical names were.
Neem  -  Azadirachta indica
Peepul  -  Ficus religiosa
Sal  -  Shorea robusta
Gold-mohur  -  Delonix regia
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: David Bracey on May 17, 2012, 01:44:53 PM
Azadirachtin is an extract from the Neem tree with insecticidal properties.  It is probably the latest biopesticide to arrive on the market. It acts as a growth inhibitor to insect pests.
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: GRJoe on May 17, 2012, 04:36:13 PM
Some websites present our Melia and Azaderachta as one and the same plant... even if one can be a hazard, and the other a kind of panacea. I wonder about the effect of mixing Neem leaves to the compost heap: will its insecticidal (+ fungicide, antibacterial, and antiviral) properties inhibit microorganism activities? If so, maybe it’s only good as mulch? Well I am not there yet, but Neem is on my wish list  ;D
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: Alisdair on May 17, 2012, 08:40:56 PM
An Indian friend of mine in the UK's West Midlands, who imports exotic spices, found that a spray of diluted neem oil freed his lilies of lily beetle - an absolute scourge here, particularly in urban areas such as his. He kindly gave me a bottle of the oil, though out here in the country I manage to keep the lily beetle at bay by hand-picked destruction.
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: Hilary on January 09, 2017, 06:18:06 PM
Melia azedarach
Decorated with snow.
In the site of Ancient Corinth and near the carpark
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: Hilary on April 16, 2017, 10:27:39 AM
Melia azedarach,
Pride of India, Pride of China, Persian Lilac, Bead Tree and the list goes on.
No stamp today but continuing with the Easter / Spring theme.

Several of these trees grow around Corinth and Ancient Corinth.

The first time I saw this tree was at Easter 1966, when I experienced my first Greek Easter Day feast. The tree was growing in the garden where the lamb was being cooked on the spit, hand turned none of your little motors to turn the spit then.  I was told the tree was called Paskalia. Since then I have noticed that just about anything pale purple in colour goes by the name of Paskalia

Here are a couple of photos taken last May. We had trouble finding enough wild flowers, they had all dried up,  to make our May Wreath so we were glad to come across a bushy Indian Bead tree next to the, now defunct, railway lines.
In the end most of the wreath  was made with the flowers

Melia azedarach is mentioned many times in THE MEDITERRANEAN GARDEN Issue number 25, July 2001 mentions that a Melia tree was lost after the very dry winter of 1999- 2000. I wonder if it has been replaced?
THE GARDEN AT SPAROZA by Caroline Harbouri
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: Charithea on April 17, 2017, 08:02:14 AM
Hilary, I know that there has been a lot of information posted about this tree but I feel that I must also add mine.  I love the tree, its blue-purple flowers , its scent, the visiting bees on its flowers and also that the Golden orioles perch on it, very early in the morning, when they arrive in Cyprus. Friends and relatives ask me why do I tolerate its seeds. Simple.  I don't mind it being untidy.  I get so much pleasure from all the other positive things about it.
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: Fermi on April 23, 2017, 03:42:12 PM
White Cedar also occurs naturally in northern Australia: (
but can become a weed outside its usual range. It's used quite a lot as a street tree and in gardens in Melbourne and other parts of southern Australia
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: John J on April 23, 2017, 05:14:49 PM
I'm a little late on this one, been away and still trying to catch up. Here in Cyprus the Melia is known as 'mavromata' (dark eyes), 'paskalia' is given mainly to the lilac as it flowers around Easter.
Title: Re: Melia azedarach
Post by: Hilary on April 24, 2017, 04:10:43 PM
What a wonderful site for information about Australian plants.
What a shame I don't have any more Australian stamps with floral themes.
As a child I did have a 12 inch ruler, each inch a piece of wood from a different Australian tree.
I knew all the names of the trees  off by heart.