The Chinaberry or Bead Tree (Melia azedarach; syn. M. australis, M.
japonica, M. sempervivens)
The adult tree has a rounded to upright top.
The flowers are small and 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 almost white.
The flowers are unattractive to bees and butterflies. The hard,
spherical seeds were widely used for making rosaries and other
products requiring beads, before their replacement by modern
All parts of the plant are poisonous to humans if eaten. Some birds
are able to eat the fruit, spreading the seeds in their droppings,
but 15 grams are a lethal dose for a 22-kilogram pig. The first
symptoms of poisoning appear a few hours after ingestion. They may
include loss of appetite, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, bloody
faeces, stomach pain, pulmonary congestion, cardiac paralisis,
rigidity, lack of coordination and general weakness. Death may take
place after about 24 hours.
Medical use: Root and bark decoction is blood purifier, anthelmic,
astringent and for fever. Root bark as a cathartic and emetic,
vermifuge and effective for intermittent fever and dysentery. Leaves
poultice for boils and sores. Fruit is purgative and emollient and
useful in intestinal worms, urinary diseases, piles, etc. Leaves as
analgesic, diuretic and antipruritic. Against itchiness. Bark is
made into insecticide.