Meliaceae, the mahogany family of flowering plants, of the order Sapindales, comprises 51 genera and about 575 species of trees and (rarely) shrubs, native to tropical and subtropical regions. Most members of the family have large compound leaves, with the leaflets arranged in the form of a feather, and branched flower clusters. The fruit is fleshy and coloured or a leathery capsule.
The China tree (Melia azedarach), also called chinaberry, bead tree, and Persian lilac, is an ornamental deciduous Asian tree with round yellow fruits, often cultivated in many tropical and warm temperate areas. The adult tree has a rounded crown, and commonly measures attains a height of 7-12 metres, however in exceptional circumstances M. azedarach can attain a height of 45 metres.
The flowers are small and highly fragrant, with five pale purple or lilac petals, growing in clusters. The fruit is a drupe, marble-sized, light yellow at maturity, hanging on the tree all winter, and gradually becoming wrinkled and almost white. The leaves are up to 50 cm long, alternate, long-petioled, 2 or 3 times compound (odd-pinnate); the leaflets are dark green above and lighter green below, with serrate margins.
It is a common ornamental street tree in Melbourne, but it must noted that fruits are poisonous to humans if eaten in quantity. However, like those of the Yew tree, these toxins are not harmful to birds, who gorge themselves on the fruit, eventually reaching a "drunken" state. Leaves have been used as a natural insecticide to keep with stored food, but must not be eaten as they are highly poisonous to humans. Today it is considered an invasive species as its seeds sprout easily and are transported by birds far and wide.
This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.