permaculture podcast*
Permies likes plants and the farmer likes Uses for Melia azedarach - Chinaberry permies
  Search | Permaculture Wiki | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies | World Domination!
Register / Login
permies » forums » growies » plants
Bookmark "Uses for Melia azedarach - Chinaberry" Watch "Uses for Melia azedarach - Chinaberry" New topic
Author

Uses for Melia azedarach - Chinaberry

Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
There seems to be contradictory info on this tree. I have them popping up like weeds on my farm and want to use them for more than compost... they are so vigorously cut and come again. The timber is so straight I thought maybe I could use it to make some gates for my rabbit mini-meadows. Some places highly recommend it as useful timber even for making top-class furniture... and other places condemn it as useless because it warps. It is said to be a species of Mahogany.

I found this in Wikipedia...
Uses and ecology
The main utility of chinaberry is its timber. This is of medium density, and ranges in colour from light brown to dark red. In appearance it is readily confused with the unrelated Tectona grandis (Burmese Teak). Melia azedarach in keeping with other members of the family Meliaceae has a timber of high quality, but as opposed to many almost-extinct species of mahoganys it is under-utilised. Seasoning is relatively simple in that planks dry without cracking or warping and are resistant to fungal infection. Also known as Ghoda neem (Ghoda meaning horse) in Bengali and Vilayati (foreign) neem in Bundelkhand region, Dharek in Punjab region and Bakain in East Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand region of India. The taste of the leaves are not so bitter as Neem (Azaderachta indica).

The hard, 5-grooved seeds were widely used for making rosaries and other products requiring beads, before their replacement by modern plastics.

The flowers are unattractive to bees and butterflies. Though some hummingbirds like Sapphire-spangled Emerald (Amazilia lactea), Glittering-bellied Emerald (Chlorostilbon lucidus) and Planalto Hermit (Phaethornis pretrei) have been recorded to feed on and pollinate the flowers, these too only take it opportunistically.[2]

Toxicity
Fruits are poisonous to humans if eaten in quantity.[3] However, like the Yew tree, these toxins are not harmful to birds, who gorge themselves on the fruit, eventually reaching a "drunken" state. The toxins are neurotoxins and unidentified resins, found mainly in the fruits. Some birds are able to eat the fruit, spreading the seeds in their droppings. The first symptoms of poisoning appear a few hours after ingestion. They may include loss of appetite, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, bloody faeces, stomach pain, pulmonary congestion, cardiac arrest, rigidity, lack of coordination and general weakness. Death may take place after about 24 hours. Like in relatives, tetranortriterpenoids consititute an important toxic principle. These are chemically related to Azadirachtin, the primary insecticidal compound in the commercially important Neem oil. These compounds are probably related to the wood and seed's resistance to pest infestation, and maybe to the unattractiveness of the flowers to animals.


Uses so far:

The fragrance of the flowers in spring is lovely.

Fast growing, straight wood that is not bug ridden when used.

Beads from the berries

Berries are known to kill oocysts of coccidiosis in goats... but other places warn of toxicity in all animals except birds.

Any thoughts? I know it is a tree that has colonised almost everywhere, and I want to use its prolific growth positively.

Chelle
Jennifer Smith


Joined: Jul 14, 2009
Posts: 669
Location: Zone 5
No chinaberry here (too cold in zone 5?), but at the old place and in CA we had them (both zone 7). 

My mother likes them but father no so much.  They will sprout and grow from seed up thru a blacktop driveway.  They are noxious weed in Alabama.
Mike Turner


Joined: Sep 23, 2009
Posts: 154
Location: Upstate SC
    
    1
The wood is lightweight, prefectly usable for any applications where you would use soft pine wood.  If you are going to use it in a location where it might rot, be sure to use the heartwood as it is more rot resistant than the sapwood.  Melia isn't a species of mahogany, but is in the mahogany family.

Don't let them grow up in your vegetable garden and fruit orchards as they are strongly allelopathic to other plants.  A 3 month old, 2 foot high old Melia seedling that popped up in one of the my garden beds severely stunted the growth of collards and potatoes growing within a one foot radius of the seedling.
Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
I can believe they would be a noxious weed. They are prolific once seeded. Ask me. I pull up seedlings regularly.

Interesting about them being allelopathic. Will watch that. There are some on the edges of my food forest area..I just keep chopping them down and using for composting material... but takes lots of chopping ... cos coppice so readily. Haven't noticed them stopping growth around them so far..... but have no potatoes or collards around them. Thanks for the heads up. Probably some other plants I might have to watch too. Will look out for that now.

Just want to see if I can turn it to good use. I use a chainsaw on them from time to time. I like it that the wood is so straight. Anything I would use pine for.... will keep that in mind. Thanks.

Chelle
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2152
Location: FL
    
  52
I had a chinaberry tree growing in the bamboo.  It was about 30' tall, blocked the sun from reaching one of the beds, offered me no gain, so I took it down.  It was not particularly straight and the bamboo did not seem affected, growing within inches of the trunk.  I'll get over there and see if I've got any new growth but with the shading provided by the bamboo, I doubt I'll find anything. 

USDA info on Chinaberry Tree.


Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
http://farmwhisperer.com
Jennifer Smith


Joined: Jul 14, 2009
Posts: 669
Location: Zone 5
I see use with chickens, from roosts to small doors...with a table saw it could maybe make super nice rabbit/chicken hutch lumber? 
Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
Jennifer Smith  "listenstohorses" wrote:
I see use with chickens, from roosts to small doors...with a table saw it could maybe make super nice rabbit/chicken hutch lumber? 
I am going to give it a good try...  The roosts would be really good... anti-bug probably.... but I think I would leave out the rabbit hutches though... they chomp on wood and it might be toxic to them.

I am also starting to use it for Sepp Holzer's Hugelkultur ... logs used to form a raised bed. Now I am happy to find one growing! Go figure.... 

Chelle
                          


Joined: Dec 01, 2009
Posts: 211
Location: Northern California
Behind the house I lived in as a child, in Florida, was a drainage ditch into which our storm drains emptied. That ditch was absolutely covered in chinaberry trees, knotted together with wild grape vine. Behind that ditch was a pasture where a neighbor kept goats and peafowl. About once a year my mother would go through the woods with a chainsaw and take down as much of the chinaberry as she could manage, and once or twice a year the goats would escape and run through it and browse all the leaves off everything they could reach, but it was still a pretty dense thicket. I never heard of the goats taking sick from it but maybe they weren't eating the berries. I never saw birds after the berries that way, either. The wood was green and slippery, soapy almost, and I would have a hard time believing it's easy to work; maybe after it's dry.
Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
Thanks for this post Kerrick. I am so glad to read you say the goats broke out to eat the leaves... with no harm... that you know of anyway. I have read you can give the leaves to goats but there is so much conflicting info I did wonder. I was going to try when I got my goats... just a little. Now I will lop off a branch and offer it and see what they do with it. I have read here of trials done in which berries were given to goats to kill the coccidiosis oocyst parasites they may have taken up.

Abstract
This study assessed the effects of Melia azedarach fruits on oocyst output of goats naturally infected with Eimeria species. The nineteen 12-month-old male Tswana goats weighing 21.5 kg were allocated to either a grass hay basal diets (control = 10) or to grass hay basal diet + M. azedarach fruits (treatment = 9). The animals were individually penned, given feed and clean water for 21 days. There was a significant (P < 0.001) difference in oocyst per gram (OPG) between the two groups in weeks 2 and 3. M. azedarach maintained an oocyst count of 6400 OPG throughout the study. In contrast, OPG of the control animals increased in the second week, reaching a peak of 33,000 OPG by week 3. There was no difference (P > 0.05) in body weight between the groups by week 2. The use of novel plants to control parasites in livestock opens opportunities for sustainable and less frequent use of anthelmintics.


The chinaberries on my farm pop up singly - and especially under other trees. This leads me to believe that the birds do eat the berries and that is how they spread so fast. It is the same with the lantana. I have never seen birds eating either yet but this seems the most commonly described explanation and would seem to fit I think. It may be bigger fruit eaters that do this such as the Grey Lourie we have - because it is a big berry. No idea which birds though... just a guess.

Chelle
Levi Maxwell


Joined: Jul 21, 2009
Posts: 64
Location: San Francisco
total-evil-tree; hundreds of seeds all of which sprout in mulch or bare soil and are hard to root out, the berries are a mess, nothing else but shallow rooted flowers will grow under the tree.



"When you want to climb a tree you don't begin at the top"
Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
LOL.

I take it you think it a thoroughly good-for-nothing tree!! Appreciate your honesty.

I find most anything grows under and over it.

I must admit that a year ago I would have agreed with you. Now I see it has things to offer and no longer feel I am battling an enemy. In fact now I am having to go look for one when I need its bio-mass or logs! Scarce when you decide you need it!! Go figure.... 

Chelle
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
A friend wants to keep chickens in a space currently dominated by Himalayan blackberry and Virginia creeper, plus some bamboo eking out a living.

I wonder if chinaberry might be a good choice, both to open up some space with its allelopathy & rapid spreading, and as feed.


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
Joel, I wouldn't encourage someone to grow it if they do not have it already. I haven't noticed any particularly allelopathic indications where I live. It seems to grow with everything and everything so far seems to grow with it. Not to say with specifics ... such as the potato scenario described earlier in this thread.... that this would not be true, but in terms of a broadbase seeking of suppression of other growth it doesn't look to be the answer to me.

There are definitely better trees or shrubs for feed too. I would only feed the leaves very cautiously to goats first and maybe to chickens. Never to rabbits. I might not even bother unless I see the goats fighting to get to it either. Moringa is superior in all ways as feed.

I am only enthusiastic at having found uses for the Chinaberry because it grows so easily here. The wood grows straight. is bug-free timber, and is fast ..... so I will use it to form living fences... the pole uprights... and plant honeysuckle... which is also rampant here... to weave between. The honeysuckle is fodder .... as well as being pretty and with rampant growth.... and easily woven..... it is used for basketry. The Chinaberry trees as posts..... when they have reached the height and thickness I desire will be pollarded unmercifully ... kept cut back at fence height. Bio-mass for the garden. I will not allow them to seed on such a large scale.... but still be glad for what can be taken off of them each week. I would prefer to use Moringa as the posts but as yet do not have enough seed and the pole timber would not be as bug-free so probably not as durable longterm.....

If he has a problem keeping back the blackberry I would research ways to use it if I were your friend. It is good forage. Put some pigs in there and they would make short work of it. Good weaving for living fencing. I would still thread barbed wire through this set-up if there are particularly determined predators. bamboo could be his uprights if the clumping sort. Just some quick thoughts. What is rampant can prove to be a real blessing if search it out.

Chelle

Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
Thanks! Good to know it isn't very broad-spectrum.

I mentioned pigs. It's too urban to do exactly as you describe, but it's possible some neighbor rescued a potbellied pig after they ceased being trendy, and would enjoy bringing it over for some free exercise and food.

The blackberries & ivy berries will both be good feed in their season, no doubt about it.

I think tree of heaven might be the most appropriate overall, especially because foliage can be herbicidal as a mulch, if taken at the right season.
Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
Tree of Heaven.... Ailanthus altissima... another invasive alien species here.... from China

Chelle 
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
Cyara wrote:Tree of Heaven.... Ailanthus altissima... another invasive alien species here.... from China


Yes, there's definitely a Gojira movie quality to that faceoff:

Himalayan giant blackberry vs. Chinese ghetto palm



It grows many, many places nearby, but the light is not bright enough in this location for it to be invasive in the way it is on highway medians & abandoned parking lots. Also, the vegetation there is of the sort that historically hasn't allowed that species to become established on its own, which would explain why it isn't growing there already.
Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
Yes, there's definitely a Gojira movie quality to that faceoff:

Himalayan giant blackberry vs. Chinese ghetto palm





The true godzilla of them all...kudzu.... also imported from Japan .... although I don't think it shares aquatic beginnings. In Japan it grows quite normally.

I have an equivalent here on my farm.... Cat's Claw.... AKA Yellow Trumpet Vine. I know it runs and climbs as I sleep! Seen it's flowers topping 12 meter trees. Uses? Give me time! He he! Good title...  Cat's Claw Conquest in Cartesian Charge .... a case of Mind over Matter.

Chelle
Jennifer Smith


Joined: Jul 14, 2009
Posts: 669
Location: Zone 5
How about Wisteria?  I have seen it take over and grow up into the canopy several stories.  I have a friend who claims it has strangled his goats.  He calls it the evil weed.
Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
Wow... never knew that. Have a friend who has a beautiful one in her garden. Come to think of it ... it is very large. Taking over a couple of trees.

Chelle
Jack Shawburn


Joined: Jan 18, 2011
Posts: 230
I cut some of the green Branches the grow from the bases of these - a la coppice and fed them through the chipper.
Soaked the chips then into compost pile.
When I poured the water off onto lawn it killed it !
Now concerned about the resulting compost.
I'll leave it for a long time then test before using.
FYI - I have a Chayote growing into a clump of chinaberry and a couple of Raspberry and Sweet Potato planted as well - It will serve as a test to see if they do well on the edge of this clump of Chinaberry.
Toxic uptake into the plants is a concern for me now.
                      


Joined: Oct 25, 2010
Posts: 76
Location: Austin,TX
I use the berries to make a psoriasis shampoo that works better than any store bought stuff.

Just toss a couple of handfuls of berries into some boiling water. After 30 minutes smash the berries, strain mixture so you just get a brown pulpy liquid. Shampoo as normal just don't expect lather. Stops the itchy, flaky scalp right away.
Doesn't seem to keep well so I just make small batches.

Haven't noticed any allopathicness around the trees, but can't remember looking too hard.

Can make some nice walking sticks which are lightweight after they've cured.
                              


Joined: Jul 12, 2010
Posts: 123
I don't care for them either.  They're such short lived trees they're a little dangerous in an urban yard.  They grow tall and then start dying, dropping logs on your head.  booo hissss china berry boo hiss
Cal Burns


Joined: Mar 23, 2011
Posts: 102
Chelle Lewis wrote:
I am also starting to use it for Sepp Holzer's Hugelkultur ... logs used to form a raised bed. Now I am happy to find one growing! Go figure.... 

Chelle


Hmmm, may try that. Got a load of tree limbs/logs that look to be chinaberry. May use underneath my raised beds I'm digging up and adding logs to. Seeing though that in my area the soil is highly alkaline 7.6 (in region 8b) wondering if the cut wood will still have negative aspects for my vegetables in future years as it breaks down...
                                          


Joined: Jan 09, 2011
Posts: 59
Location: N.W. Arizona
Here in the mojave desert with caliche chinaberry is a good shade tree.  It does well in the heat and wont die off in the the cold of zone 8-9.  It does alright in the shallow soil with caliche.  While it may be relatively shortlived it sends up seedlings readily.  My goats wont eat much of the leaves or green berries but they love the dry berries.  I rarely compost fallen branches, they are very brittle and break up easily into kindlin.
I harvest the berries when dry and leaves have fallen and put them in a closed can in my oil stove or wood stove and char them into acceptable biochar.  All winter I add the charred berries to the sawdust toilet buckets, which go to compost.  I do share some of the dry berries with the goats.....they will eat all I give them.  The berries on dry ground are treaturouse like walking on marbles 
Scott Jackson


Joined: Mar 02, 2012
Posts: 37
Location: Córdoba, Argentina
Apparently there are a lot of promising use of Chinaberry's leaves and berries as a bio-pesticide:

The Potential Uses of Melia Azedarach L. as Pesticidal and Medicinal Plant, Review
Adnan Y. AL-Rubae
Jordan University of Science and Technology, Irbid, Jordan

http://www.aensionline.com/aejsa/2009/185-194.pdf

Here in Argentina (Córdoba) the Chinaberry is known is "Paraiso" (Paradise) and it has been planted in a lot of houses / neighborhoods / sidewalks most likely as an ornamental. I'm going to go looking for one now to try to brew some of its leaves. Here in our garden, we have a bad case of Thrips (Thysanoptera) on our black bean plants, and I am planning on giving them a squirt with diluted chinaberry tea to see if it works on keeping them away.

I have also read in various articles that the pesticidal content in Chinaberry is very similar to Neem oil:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neem_oil

Saludos!!!
Scott Jackson


Joined: Mar 02, 2012
Posts: 37
Location: Córdoba, Argentina
Today I gathered roughly 100 ripe and recently fallen berries from a Chinaberry tree in order test them out as a natural pesticide in the garden.

(As per my previous post, here's a rundown on scientific research done on Melia Azedarach as a bio-pesticide: http://www.aensionline.com/aejsa/2009/185-194.pdf )

First of all, the vapors from the boiling fruits (in about 1.5 liters of water) are quite nauseating. Both myself and my girlfriend - who was in an adjacent room to our kitchen- were both feeling vaguely sick to our stomachs after about 20 minutes of the boiling. I also used a potato mashing utensil to press the fruit while they were boiling. In retrospect I should have let the stuff boil and walked away. A few hours later I still feel dizzy and I hope I don't win any Darwin awards for the experiment.

After passing the thick pea-green reduction through a wire strainer, I let the liquid cool and then filled a .5 liter spray bottle halfway. Then I topped up the bottle with tap water.

Outside in the garden I sprayed vigorously on a few feet of black bean vines which have been infested by thrips. I also located a huge ant colony which has been responsible for hacking nearby pomegranate and citrus saplings.

Then I used what was left of the spray bottle on the opening of the ant's nest - which is nested between the garden, a stone tile path and a brick wall.

After watching what happened next I am 100% convinced that it is an effective plant-based pesticide (in terms of what it does to the ants at least - will have to look at the plants and my own health tomorrow). The ants were immediately disoriented and could not walk across any area that had been covered with the Chinaberry spray. Some who were carrying loads tried to advance a few steps, but quickly turned around and looked for dry ground. I sprayed a circle around a couple ants and predictably they were trapped within the circle. A huge number of load carriers amassed at the verge of the treated area, unable to return to the hive. I went back inside my house and returned in 30 minutes to see what had happened since. All of the ants who were initially caught within the direct puddles of spray were now dead and fried. The ants that had come in contact with the stuff, but had managed to flee, were now convulsing in place and circling the drain so to speak.

I said something like "wow, what fun this," in a vengeful mood, since the ant's destructive forays on the young trees had dampened my gardening spirits in recent weeks. Tonight was also a full moon. My girlfriend said that somewhere Rudolf Steiner must be nodding in accordance with the lunar coincidence of such an act of agricultural warfare.

Anyhow, it is dark now and I'll have to see tomorrow how the plants have handled the spray. As the glee of war fades I am now slurping down tall cups full of fresh parsley tea, which will help to clear out any remaining toxicity I may have breathed in while processing this strong and offensive soup.

Cheers,

Scott
darius Van d'Rhys


Joined: Jul 07, 2011
Posts: 56
Location: SW Virginia Mountains, USA
Scoot, did you survive the fumes? What other effects in the garden did you observe?


http://www.2footalligator.blogspot.com
Scott Jackson


Joined: Mar 02, 2012
Posts: 37
Location: Córdoba, Argentina
darius Van d'Rhys wrote:Scoot, did you survive the fumes? What other effects in the garden did you observe?


Darius, I survived. Thanks.

The ants' colony must be some ways away, because even though this particular entrance took a major hit, they came back the next day with a new tunnel about 20cm away.

I also sprayed the black bean foliage to see what happened with the Thrips. The spray didn't have the same killer effect on the Thrips, though after multiple applications it seems that it may be helping. According to the literature the Chinaberry juice effects reproductive cycles as a larvacide, so it might take a while for the cycles to be altered.

Because the Thrips damage on the black bean leaves was already severe when I sprayed its hard for me to tell if the Chinaberry spray has burned the leaves in any way.

Recently I've also let Chinaberry leaves ferment in a bucket with about 4 litres of water. I've also sprayed this on the black bean plants and am still observing the effects. The fermented leaf juice smells quite *pungent* to put it lightly but it is purported to have the same pesticidal content as the berries.

Since my bad reaction to the fumes of the boiling berries I've done some more reading and have learned that in fact, the berries are known as "venenitos" here in south america (Aka "Little Poisons"). So yeah, do not eat and be careful with processing...

Will send another update soon.

All the best,

Scott
Don Walters


Joined: Mar 18, 2012
Posts: 1
I purchased an old farm that came complete with an overgrown garden that had been taken over by Chinaberry Trees and Asian Wisteria. I had the garden area cleaned up and all the brush taken to a landfill. However both the Chinaberry and Wisteria returned thicker than ever. I have enclosed the area with field fence planning to have a few pigs plow it up and get rid of both plants once and for all, but some sites warn that the plants are toxic to animals while others say that it is not an issue. I am not too crazy about using chemicals, and I was wondering if anyone had used pigs or goats in clearing out either plant.
Thank you for any advice that you may have to offer. Don
Scott Jackson


Joined: Mar 02, 2012
Posts: 37
Location: Córdoba, Argentina
Scott Jackson wrote:
darius Van d'Rhys wrote:Scoot, did you survive the fumes? What other effects in the garden did you observe?

...

Will send another update soon.

All the best,

Scott


My girlfriend was talking about garden stuff with one of her work colleagues and she heard of another recipe for using chinaberries as a pesticide. We tried it at home and have been using it successfully (applying as needed) on affected garden plants with pest or fungus issues. So far, it has done an amazing job and has produced no irritation or 'leaf burn' on any plants.

Basically the recipe is:

Two cups of (preferably fresh) chinaberries
One liter of pure alcohol

Let berries soak in alcohol away from direct sunlight for at least a week, or until the infusion is green. Then, to use, dilute this alcohol infusion 1 part to four parts water in a spray bottle. Keep away from children and clearly labelled!!!

I posted a more extensive recipe with photos on my blog for anyone interested in trying it out. Here it is:

http://gnognosdejardin.com/2012/05/16/paraiso-aka-chinaberry-a-natural-source-of-organic-pest-control/

All the best,

Scott
 
 
subject: Uses for Melia azedarach - Chinaberry
 
cast iron skillet 49er

more from paul wheaton's glorious empire of web junk: cast iron skillet diatomaceous earth sepp holzer raised garden beds raising chickens lawn care flea control missoula electric heaters permaculture videos permaculture books