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Home > How to Go Native > Map Existing Site and Vegetation > Invasive, Exotic Plants of the Southeast > Chinaberry

Invasive, Exotic Plants of the Southeast




Common Name: Chinaberry

Scientific Name: Melia azedarach

Identification: Chinaberry is a deciduous tree that may reach 50 feet in height and 2 feet in diameter.  The tree has alternately whorled, bipinnately compound leaves with tapered tips.  The lacy leaves become golden yellow in fall.  When crushed the leaves have a musky odor.  The bark is dark chocolate brown.  Flowers are fragrant and the petals are pinkish-lavender to white and appear in March to May.  The berrylike drupes appear in July to January and will persist throughout the winter.  Seeds are poisonous to humans and livestock.

Ecology: Chinaberry is common on roadsides and forest edges.  The tree colonizes by root sprouts.  Few wildlife species use Chinaberry, but the seeds are dispersed by wind.

Plant Control: Cut down large trees with a chainsaw and treat outer two inches of cut surface of stump with undiluted glyphosate concentrate (53.8% is preferable). Large saplings can be treated in a similar fashion, taking care to treat the entire cut surface.  If berry clusters are present on cut limbs, collect and bag these and dispose of in heavy garbage bag so they do not sprout.  Monitor for seedlings and control as needed. 

Alternative Native Species: Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), Sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana)

When using herbicides remember to follow label-recommendations.  Any mention of trade, products, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by North Carolina State University.

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