White cedar, chinaberry tree, bead-tree, Cape lilac, syringa berrytree, Persian lilac, Indian lilac (Eng); cinamomo, árbol de paraíso, agriaz, melia (Spa); arbre sant (Cat); cinamomo (Glg); amargoseira, mélia (Por).
DID YOU KNOW...? The white cedar has mahogany-like wood; in fact it belongs to the same botanical family.
This tree can be up to 15 m tall, but is normally a more modest 6-10 m in height. The trunk is straight, the bark is grey and fissured, and the crown is not very dense, so it does not cast a deep shade. The leaves are deciduous, alternate and compound. They are very large, up to 90 cm long, and bipinnate, so it is easy to confuse the complete leaves with the leaflets. These latter are 2-5 cm long, more or less triangular, and have a serrated margin. The aromatic flowers appear in April or May and are very striking due to their bluish or lilac colour. The fruits are globose drupes, 8-25 mm in diameter, and cream or orange-coloured when ripe. They are arranged in numerous hanging groups that are very characteristic, and which remain on the tree once the leaves have fallen.
In the Canary region it is quite commonly cultivated, particularly between altitudes of 200 and 600 m, although it sometimes colonises uncultivated, cleared and disturbed land. It is very resistant to summer droughts, frosts, severe pruning, pollution, and it grows quickly on all soil types. On the other hand, it is not very long-lived. In many places it is considered invasive.
This tree is native to the south and east of Asia. Since ancient times, it has been cultivated across the globe as an ornamental, and is frequently grown in the Canaries, except in Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. It has been found established in the wild on El Hierro, Tenerife and Gran Canaria.