Melia.JPG (32547 bytes)Melia azederach: is a member of the Meliaceae family in company with the famous timber tree, Toona ciliata (Red Cedar). White Cedar is the common name for this small to medium, spreading tree. The leaves are bipinnate and are usually deciduous (an unusual characteristic for a native species). The flowers appear from October to December in large inflorescences. Individual blooms are two centimetres across, are lilac or mauve and have a caramel or chocolate smell. The globular fruits are 1.5 centimetres in diameter and yellow when ripe. The seeds are said to be poisonous although parrots are partial to them. The fruits are a hazard on footpaths.

White Cedar is probably too large for small gardens but could be cultivated in larger gardens or rural properties. The species was introduced into England in 1810.

Propagate from seeds, which need no treatment. Cuttings of ripened wood are worth trying.

The specimen illustrated was photographed in Carnarvon Gorge in July 2004. Many specimens line Carnarvon Creek and the bright yellow foliage contrasts with the other Gorge vegetation. White Cedars are usually deciduous but in Carnarvon Gorge the winters are probably so mild that the leaves are not shed just develop autumn colours. Their colour is similar to that of the deciduous native beeches in Tasmania around Dove Lake in Cradle Mountain National Park.

Plants