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©Copyright 1993 by the Regents of the University of California
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MELIACEAE

MAHOGANY FAMILY

Elizabeth McClintock

Shrub, tree (rarely perennial herb); wood hard, often aromatic
Leaves generally alternate, often clustered near stem tips, generally 2-pinnate; stipules 0
Inflorescence: panicle, raceme, or umbel
Flower generally bisexual, radial; sepals generally 3–5, sometimes fused at base; petals generally 3–5, ± free (sometimes slightly fused at base or to filament tube); stamens generally 8–12, filaments generally fused; disk generally between stamens and ovary; ovary superior, chambers generally 2–5, placentas axile, style generally 1, stigma generally head-like, lobed
Fruit: generally drupe
Seeds many, often winged or with an aril
Genera in family: ± 50 genera, 550 species: tropical, subtropical (some temp). Timber crops, including mahogany (Swietenia ).

MELIA

BEAD TREE

Shrub, tree
Leaf large, deciduous, petioled
Inflorescence: panicle; flowers many
Flower white or purple; sepals generally 5; petals generally 5; filament tube 10–12-lobed at tip (lobes sometimes further divided), anthers 10–12; pistil surrounded by, ± = filament tube, ovary chambers 5–8, style ± as wide as ovary and stigma
Species in genus: ± 10 species: tropical Asia, Australia
Etymology: (Greek: ash tree, from leaf shape)

Introduced

M. azedarach L.

CHINA BERRY, PERSIAN LILAC

Tree, < 10 m
Stem: branches broadly spreading; bark furrowed
Leaf: 1° leaflets ± 5–9; 2° leaflets generally 5–7 per 1° leaflet, 2.5–5 cm, ovate to lanceolate, toothed
Flower: ± purple, fragrant; sepals ± 2–3 mm; petals ± 5 mm, oblong; filament tube ± 5 mm
Fruit 10–15 mm, spheric, yellow
Seed 1, bony
Ecology: Uncommon. Disturbed places, sometimes persisting near abandoned habitations
Elevation: < 200 m.
Bioregional distribution: San Joaquin Valley, South Coast
Distribution outside California: native to se Asia, n Australia
Fast-growing, used in reforestation; fruit pulp mildly toxic; seeds used for beads.

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bioregional map for MELIA%20azedarach being generated
 
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