A Bishop’s Garden (Part Four)

The final part of my series on the Bishop of Gemmingen’s botanical garden in Eichstätt – Hortus Eystettensis – is dedicated to this tree…

Melia azedarach

For those of you in warmer climes than Bavaria this may be known to you. Often called Bead Tree or Cape Lilac, it is of the Mahogany family and is native to India, South-east Asia, and Australia. It has probably been exported widely as an ornamental garden tree, but I have never seen one at a nursery in Germany. It dislikes cold, dry conditions, and only established trees can survive freezing temperatures. Wikipedia also gives the following common names: Chinaberry, Persian Lilac, White Cedar, Texas Umbrella, Ceylon cedar, and Pride of India. I’d love to hear if anyone knows it or has seen one before. (And are they invasive, as Wikipedia claims?)

The small, star-like, pale lilac flowers smell lovely and were in full bloom at the end of June. The seeds are, however, toxic…

I find the growth as well as the flower of the Melia so attractive, and the delicate fragrance similar to that of elderflower. In fact one of the German common names is “Chinese Elder”.

This was most definitely my favourite plant at the Bastion Garden (Hortus Eystettensis). The small but extensive botanical garden in Eichstätt made a great impression on me, and I will certainly be making another visit next year… if not sooner. 😉

Hope you enjoyed looking at the garden with me.

Thanks for visiting!

18 thoughts on “A Bishop’s Garden (Part Four)

    • Hi Girls,

      The Tree is also native to australia, NT, QLD and NSW although you wont find it south of Sydney. I have 5 of these trees on my Farm, and we think that are somewhere between 250 – 650 years old. But know one really knows as we are at the trees southern most distrabution. We know that the trees were here when the area was originally explored back in 1815 (first white Man) They are not invasive and can withstand frost although average winter temps need to be above 12c to be successfully grow.

  1. Your pictures are great — I can see why you found this tree so appealing. There was a Chinaberry tree at my grandparents house when I was little. I do not remember the flower at all, only the yellow berries that follow. They are considered invasive here in Southeastern United States. Enjoyed reading about this garden.

  2. It is a pretty tree. The flower is so delicate. I am not sure what an elder smells like but I know it must be nice.

  3. i think this is what we call the neem tree in india. if it is so, then it is considered a very useful tree. it grows commonly in most parts of india. the saplings spring out easily from the fruits. i have been told of the five different parts of the tree that can be used in different ways for different purpose. the leaves and flowers can be consumed, in fact it is advised to be consumed at the onset of summer to develop immunity. it tastes bitter. the flowers can also be consumed, though not so popularly done. extracts of the leaves are also used in beauty regimes. it is used in face packs and soaps.
    the wiki has another entry for the neem tree under azadirachta indica. i wonder if they are the same or different from melia azaderich. it certainly does not seem to be white cedar.

    • Thanks for your comment. It is, however, definitely not the same tree… this one is POISONOUS! It is very similar to the Neem, and from the same family, but the seeds are TOXIC, unlike Neem. We use Neem oil as pest control in the garden sometimes. And I believe it is good in handcreams etc.

  4. I live in the south eastern region of the US and have this tree in my front yard! I was going crazy trying to figure out what it was called-then I found your website! It’s such a beautiful tree and smells so nice right now, just like lilacs! Thank you so much for posting 🙂

    • Hi Jo! So glad it helped you identify your tree. And thanks for letting me know – hope it goes on blooming and smelling sweet for years to come! 😀

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