Melia azedarach - L.
Chinaberry
Other English Common Names: Umbrella Tree
Other Common Names: Chinaberrytree
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Melia azedarach L. (TSN 29024)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.152741
Element Code: PDMLC03010
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Other flowering plants
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Sapindales Meliaceae Melia
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Melia azedarach
Taxonomic Comments: This species has been introduced from the Old World tropics. It is easily distinguished from all other Meliaceae in the Neotropics by its 2-3-pinnate leaves, with serrate, crenate, or dentate leaflets.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Reviewed: 22Mar1994
Global Status Last Changed: 22Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Reasons: Melia azedarach is introduced in the New World and commonly cultivated and naturalized throughout tropical America from Mexico to Argentina, and south Florida. In some regions it has been planted commercially. In Puerto Rico planted and locally naturalized in the coastal and lower mountain regions.
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (SNA), Arizona (SNA), Arkansas (SNA), California (SNA), Florida (SNA), Georgia (SNR), Hawaii (SNA), Louisiana (SNA), Mississippi (SNA), Missouri (SNA), New Mexico (SNA), New York (SNA), North Carolina (SNA), Oklahoma (SNA), South Carolina (SNA), Tennessee (SNA), Texas (SNA), Utah (SNA), Virginia (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Naturalized throughout tropical America, from Asia. Found in disturbed sites, thickets, old fields, and in cultivation, in south Florida.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Naturalized throughout tropical America, from Asia. Found in disturbed sites, thickets, old fields, and in cultivation, in south Florida.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States ALexotic, ARexotic, AZexotic, CAexotic, FLexotic, GA, HIexotic, LAexotic, MOexotic, MSexotic, NCexotic, NMexotic, NYexotic, OKexotic, SCexotic, TNexotic, TXexotic, UTexotic, VAexotic

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
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Basic Description: Tree or treelet, Meliaceae. A small to medium-sized deciduous tree becoming 20-50 feet tall and 1-2 feet in trunk diameter.
Economic Attributes
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Economic Uses: Building materials/timber, Paper/pulp
Economic Comments: Cultivated commercially for use in the manufacture of fibre board (Little 1979). The wood is also used in cabinet work, for auto bodies, to build crates, musical instruments, matches, tool handles and fuel wood (Santos 1987).
Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
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Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: Medium/Low
Rounded I-Rank: Medium
I-Rank Reasons Summary: Melia azedarach used to be widely planted for ornamental or for harvest for its medicinal properties. It has since escaped and naturalized which has caused at least one state (FL) to ban it, although it is still sold elsewhere in the US. It appears most often on disturbed soils, however it can invaded floodplain and marsh communities, and can crowd out native species.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium/Low
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: High/Medium
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: Medium/Low
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: Medium/Low
I-Rank Review Date: 29Mar2004
Evaluator: Fellows, M.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Asia (Gleason 1952) and Australia (Weber 2003).

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: (Kartesz 1999).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Escaped from cultivation (Gleason 1952). Disruptive in Florida, and listed as Category 1 on FLEPPC (Randall and Marinelli 1996).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium/Low

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Medium/Low significance
Comments: May alter soil chemistry by raising pH and increasing mineralizable nitrogen (LSU, Undated; Batcher 2000).

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:Medium/Low significance
Comments: A shrub or small tree (Kartesz 1999). Can form thickets (Langeland and Burks 1998; Weber 2003).

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:Moderate significance
Comments: Outcompetes native upland species from Florida to Texas (Randall and Marinelli 1996).

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Unknown

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Moderate significance
Comments: Thickets and edges of woods (Fernald 1950). Disturbed areas, such as right-of-ways and fencerows (Langeland and Craddock Burks 1998). Also in floodplain hammocks, marshes and upland woods (Langeland and Craddock Burks 1998).

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: High/Medium

6. Current Range Size in Nation:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Present in all southern states, CA to VA, and NY (Kartesz 1999). Common in disturbed habitats such as right-of-ways, fencerows and floodplains (Langeland and Craddock Burks 1998). Reported from most of the counties in FL (Wunderlin and Hansen 2004) and LA (LSU AgCenter 2001) with a less abundant county occurrence records in MO, OK and CA (Weber et al. 2004; Hoagland et al. 2004; Baldwin et al. 2004)

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Disruptive in Florida, and listed as Category 1 on FLEPPC (Randall and Marinelli 1996). Is considered 'problematic' in HI (PIER 2004).

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:Moderate significance
Comments: May be present in 34 ecoregions - inferred from Kartesz (1999) and TNC (2001). Various county atlas distribution maps (see question #6 comments and citations) report that M. azedarach is present in at least 16 ecoregions. Melia axedarach is also reported from the Coastal Plain and Piedmont regions of VA, NC and SC and the mountians of NC (Weakley 2000) for a total of at least 19 ecoregions.

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: Thickets and edges of woods (Fernald 1950). Disturbed areas, such as right-of-ways and fencerows (Langeland and Craddock Burks 1998). Also in floodplain hammocks, marshes and upland woods (Langeland and Craddock Burks 1998).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: Medium/Low

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Low significance
Comments: Gleason (1952) reported it in a similar range to it's current (Kartesz 1999) distribution. Originally introduced to Georgia and South Carolina in 1830's (Randall and Marinelli 1996).

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Unknown

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:High significance
Comments: Kartesz (1999) reports Melia azedarach as an economically important plant that can be used for erosion control. Escaped from cultivation (Gleason 1952). Seeds dispersed by birds (Langeland and Craddock Burks 1998). Readily available in commercial nursery trade (LSU, Undated).

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:Unknown

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Moderate significance
Comments: Known from native habitat areas without significant disturbance (Langeland anc Craddock Burks 1998).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Low significance
Comments: Naturalized in tropical America and South Africa (Langeland and Craddock Burks 1998). Also reported from southern Europe and Mexico, all from similar habitats as in the US (Weber 2003).

16. Reproductive Characteristics:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Prolific seeder (Randall and Marinelli 1996) and root suckering (Langeland and Craddock Burks 1998). Juvenile period is very short, with flowering beginning as early as seedling stage (Weber 2003). Seeds viable up to 2 years to 26 months (LSU, Undated; Batcher 2000).

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: Medium/Low

17. General Management Difficulty:Moderate significance
Comments: Herbicides at any time in plant life cycle (Miller 2003). Must remove seed producing tree to achieve long-term controll (Randall and Marinelli 1996).

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Seeds viable up to 2 years to 26 months (LSU, Undated; Batcher 2000). Moonitor control efforts for 3 to 5 years to ensure effecctiveness (Batcher 2000).

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: Herbicide application is most effective when applied directly to the plant, either as basal bark application or cut-stump application, both, minimizing the risk to native species (Batcher 2000).

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:High/Low significance
Comments: Kartesz (1999) reports Melia azedarach as an economically important plant that can be used for erosion control. Readily available in commercial nursery trade (LSU, Undated).
Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 09Feb1993
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Blythe, K. (TNC-LASP)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 17Jun1996
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): JASTER, T. (TNC-LASP)

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Baldwin, B.G., S. Boyd, B.J. Ertter, D.J. Keil, R.W. Patterson, T.J. Rosatti and D.H. Wilken. 2004.
    Jepson Flora Project, Jepson Online Interchange for California Floristics. Regents of the University of California, Berkeley. Online. Available: http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/jepson_flora_project.html (Accessed 2004).

  • Batcher, M. S. 2000. Element stewardship abstract for Melia azedarach - Chinaberry, Umbrella Tree. The Nature Conservancy. Arlington, VA.

  • Fernald, M. L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. Corrected printing (1970). D. Van Nostrand Company, New York. 1632 pp.

  • Gleason, H.A. 1952. The new Britton and Brown illustrated flora of the northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 3 volumes. Hafner Press, New York. 1732 pp.

  • Hoagland B.W., A.K. Buthod, I.H. Butler, P.H.C. Crawford, A.H. Udasi, W.J. Elisens, and R.J. Tyrl. 2004. Oklahoma Vascular Plants Database. Oklahoma Biological Survey, University of Oklahoma, Norman. Online. Available: http://geo.ou.edu/botanical (accessed 2004).

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • LSU (Louisiana State University). 2001. Louisiana invasive plants: Melia azedarach L. Available online at: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/invasive/Chinaberrytree.asp. Accessed March 2004.

  • Langeland, K.A. and K.C. Burks. 1998. Identification and Biology of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas. University of Florida. 165 pp. [http://aquat1.ifas.ufl.edu/identif.html]

  • Little, E., Jr. & Wadsworth, F. 1964. Common Trees of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. 548 págs.

  • Little, E.L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agriculture Handbook No. 541. U.S. Forest Service, Washington, D.C. 375 pp.

  • Miller, J.H. 2003. Nonnative Invasive Plants of Southern Forests: A field guide for identification and control. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-62. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 93 pp.

  • Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk project (PIER). 2004. Last updated January 4, 2004. Prospective invasive species for Pacific islands. Available: http://hear.org/pier/prospective.htm. (Accessed 2004).

  • Pennington, T. D. 1981. Flora Neotropica: Monograph No. 28. Meliaceae. Organization for Flora Neotropica: New York Botanical Garden, New York. 470p.

  • Randall, J.M. and J. Marinelli (eds.) 1996. Invasive plants: weeds of the global garden. Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York.

  • Santos, Eurico. 1987. Nossas Madeiras. Chapter IV. Editora Itatiaia Limitada, Brazil.

  • The Nature Conservancy. 2001. Map: TNC Ecoregions of the United States. Modification of Bailey Ecoregions. Online . Accessed May 2003.

  • Weakley, A.S. 2000. Flora of the Carolinas and Virginia: working draft of May 15, 2000. Unpublished draft, The Nature Conservancy, Southern Resource Office.

  • Weber, E. 2003. Invasive plant species of the world: a reference guide to environmental weeds. CABI Publishing, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 548 pp.

  • Weber, W. R., W. T. Corcoran, M. Brunell, and P. L. Redfearn. 2004. February last update. Atlas of Missouri vascular plants, dot map edition. Online. Available: http://biology.smsu.edu/Herbarium/Plants%20of%20the%20Interior%20Highlands/ATLAS%20MISSOURI%20VASCULAR%20PLANTS,%20DOT%20MAP%20EDITION.htm (accessed 2004)

  • Wunderlin, R. P., and B. F. Hansen. 2004. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. [S. M. Landry and K. N. Campbell (application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research.] Institute for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida, Tampa. Online. Available: http://www.plantatlas.usf.edu.

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