Melia azedarach

Other Common Names

None for this invasive

Plant Category


Invasive Description

Chinaberry was introduced in the mid-1800s from Asia as an ornamental. It is a fast-growing, deciduous tree that grows up to 50 feet tall with a trunk 2 feet in diameter. It is much branched with lacy, dark-green leaves that are alternate and compound and usually bipinnate but sometimes tripinnate, with length of 1-2 feet and width of 9-16 inches. The leaves emit a musky odor when crushed. The tree produces clusters of fragrant, lavender flowers in spring yielding persistent, poisonous, yellow berries that can remain on the tree after the leaves fall.

Ecological Threat

Chinaberry is most invasive in riparian zones or disturbed sites. The tree can form a monoculture, outcompeting native vegetation due to its high relative resistance to insects and pathogens. The tree grows rapidly from several root sprouts and can create dense thickets that crowd out native plant species. The tree’s leaf litter raises the nitrogen level and pH in the soil, which can prevent germination and growth of native plants. Chemicals in leaves inhibit insects’ digestion. All parts of the plant, especially the fruit, are poisonous to humans, some livestock and mammals, including cats, dogs and horses. Cattle and some birds can eat the berries without harm.

Chinaberry is on the Texas Dept. of Agriculture’s list of Invasive Plants which are illegal to sell, distribute or import into Texas.

How to Eradicate

For information on how to eradicate this invasive, view our statement on herbicide use and preferred alternatives for invasive plants.

Native Alternatives

You can replace this invasive plant with native alternatives. Here are some plants that make superior replacements.

Match your location on the Texas map to the color squares on the replacement plants below to find suitable replacements for your ecoregion.

Click for more details about the ecoregions