Melia azedarach

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John

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Melia azedarach
« 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.
John
Horticulturist, photographer, author, garden designer and plant breeder; MGS member and RHS committee member. I garden at home in SW London and also at work in South London.

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John J

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Re: Melia azedarach
« Reply #1 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.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

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MikeHardman

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Re: Melia azedarach
« Reply #2 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.)
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

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John

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Re: Melia azedarach
« Reply #3 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!
John
Horticulturist, photographer, author, garden designer and plant breeder; MGS member and RHS committee member. I garden at home in SW London and also at work in South London.

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Alisdair

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Re: Melia azedarach
« Reply #4 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.
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

David Bracey

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Re: Melia azedarach
« Reply #5 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.
MGS member.

 I have gardened in sub-tropical Florida, maritime UK, continental Europe and the Mediterranean basin, France. Of the 4 I have found that the most difficult climate for gardening is the latter.

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MikeHardman

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Re: Melia azedarach
« Reply #6 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.
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

Hilary

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Re: Melia azedarach
« Reply #7 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
MGS member
Living in Korinthos, Greece.
No garden but two balconies, one facing south and the other north.
Most of my plants are succulents which need little care

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John J

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Re: Melia azedarach
« Reply #8 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.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

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Alisdair

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Re: Melia azedarach
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2011, 01:52:20 PM »
... and to add to the confusion, Melia azedarach is even sometimes called Persian lilac!
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

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GRJoe

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Re: Melia azedarach
« Reply #10 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.
Joe Breidi
Occasional gardening and garden design wherever possible! Currently living in Puglia, Italy. Special interest in dry climate gardening, and in preserving wildlife.

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MikeHardman

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Re: Melia azedarach
« Reply #11 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.
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

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John J

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Re: Melia azedarach
« Reply #12 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
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

David Bracey

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Re: Melia azedarach
« Reply #13 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.
MGS member.

 I have gardened in sub-tropical Florida, maritime UK, continental Europe and the Mediterranean basin, France. Of the 4 I have found that the most difficult climate for gardening is the latter.

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GRJoe

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Re: Melia azedarach
« Reply #14 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
Joe Breidi
Occasional gardening and garden design wherever possible! Currently living in Puglia, Italy. Special interest in dry climate gardening, and in preserving wildlife.