Species list


Melia azedarach

White cedar

White cedar, chinaberry tree, bead-tree, Cape lilac, syringa berrytree, Persian lilac, Indian lilac (Eng), cinamomo, agriaz, melia (Spa), arbre sant (Cat), cinamomo (Glg), amargoseira, mélia (Por).


DID YOU KNOW...? The white cedar has mahogany-like wood; in fact it belongs to the same botanical family.


This tree can be up to 15 m tall, but it is normally a more modest 6-10 m in height. The trunk is straight, the bark is grey and fissured, and the crown is not very dense so it does not cast a deep shade. The leaves are deciduous, alternate and compound. They are very large, up to 90 cm long, but because they are bipinnate it is easy to confuse the complete leaves with the leaflets. These are 2-5 cm long, more or less triangular, and have a serrated margin. The striking, very aromatic blossom appears in April or May. The bluish or lilac colour is rather uncommon among flowers from these latitudes. The fruits are globose, 8-25 mm in diameter, and cream or orange coloured when ripe. They are arranged in numerous hanging groups that are very characteristic, and which remain on the tree once the leaves have fallen off.


This plant is cultivated in the Iberian Peninsula and sometimes colonises unused, cleared and disturbed land. It is fast-growing and very resistant to summer drought, frosts, severe pruning, and pollution; on the other hand, it is not very long-lived. In many places it is considered invasive.


This is a tree from the south and east of Asia that has been cultivated as an ornamental since ancient times, and on the Iberian Peninsula at least since the 12th century. It is most common in the east, centre and south, but has become established in the wild in many places.