from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A deciduous Asian tree (Melia azedarach), widely cultivated and naturalized in the southern United States and having bipinnately compound leaves, clusters of purplish flowers, and yellow, globose, poisonous fruits. Also called China tree.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Melia azedarach, a deciduous tree in the mahogany family Meliaceae, native to India, southern China and Australia.
  • n. The fruit of such a tree.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. an evergreen of tropical America having pulpy fruit containing saponin which was used as soap by native Americans.
  • n. a tree of N India and China having purple blossoms and small inedible yellow fruits; naturalized in the southern US as a shade tree.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. tree of northern India and China having purple blossoms and small inedible yellow fruits; naturalized in the southern United States as a shade tree
  • n. evergreen of tropical America having pulpy fruit containing saponin which was used as soap by Native Americans


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • The chinaberry is a warm-weather shade tree that was brought to the United States a couple of centuries ago and has flourished in the South.

    Childhood in a minor key

  • Melia azedarach, called chinaberry or West Indian lilac, contained a number of toxic alkaloids.

    Jurassic Park

  • A tree-snapping wind storm in May and a worsening drought have dealt more blows, and invasive species such as chinaberry, nandina and ligustrum are choking out native plants.

    Statesman - AP Sports

  • While the store now seemed small to him, the trees—pecan and chinaberry and the occasional spiny-trunked palm—seemed enormous.

    Calling Up Ghosts on the Ten-Mile Straight

  • I skirt the shade of the chinaberry, move steadily away from Jimmy's fistful of asps.

    South Oak Cliff

  • It is green all year long, but in the summertime it throws off a nasty, staining black fruit about the size of a chinaberry that keeps our gardener busy with the chlorine and brush.

    Winemaking in the Mexican sierra

  • In Midland, where the sky arced over us in one enormous dome of blistering blue and where people doggedly imported acres of elm seedlings and chinaberry trees to plant the green ribbons of shade that lined their streets at the edge of the desert, we were quite literally an ocean and almost a continent removed.

    Spoken from the Heart

  • A car went by, then a truck, the illumination of their headlights falling outside the pool of shadow under the chinaberry tree.

    Rain Gods

  • He looked at the face of his watch and pulled into darkness under the chinaberry tree and cut his lights, waiting for Pete to pick up his groceries from the roadside and carry them to the bed of the truck.

    Rain Gods

  • Up ahead, under a chinaberry tree, was a shut-down Sno-Ball stand, a cluster of bright red cherries painted on a wood sign above its shuttered serving counter.

    Rain Gods


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "A final flight, short and narrow, as though it were the last resistance to gravity the structure could come up with, passes through glass doors to an open balcony overlooking a charming old garden of chinaberries and variegated mosses and birches peeling in papery white tatters around a pool that undoubtedly spells out a word like heart or mind but has been allowed to revert so thoroughly to nature that its letters, like the snow-weathered features of a marble bust, have lapsed into incoherence."

    Forgetting Elena by Edmund White, p 69 of the Vintage International paperback edition

    November 20, 2009

  • See citation on roller bird.

    June 15, 2009

  • Don't swallow the shardpit.

    October 4, 2008

  • Vine leaves tap my window,

    The snail-track shines on the stones,

    Dew-drops flash from the chinaberry tree

    Repeating two clear tones.

    - Conrad Aiken, 'Morning Song of Senlin'.

    October 4, 2008