One species of street trees in our neighbourhood is Chinaberry. It is a small deciduous tree with interesting foliage. During the winter time, the exposed branches are decorated with small round yellow berries. I really love the gracious shape with its rough and thick gnarled trunks. The luscious green canopy looks even prettier during the spring when the tree is flowering. The sweet smelling little flowers are star-shaped and lilac-white in colour. They are pretty and soft against the deep green leaves.

Chinaberry tree (Melia azedarach) is also known as Persian Lilac, White Cedar or Bead tree. It is native to South Asia and East Asia. It has been found growing in Australia for a long long time, so it is also considered as Australian native. All parts of the tree are very toxic to human, but birds can safely eat the berries.  It is also regarded as invasive introduced species in some parts of United States.

This tree reminds me of a song with the same title by a group band ‘Mew’. What is the connection of the tree to the song? To understand this song someone has to know all about Chinaberry tree. A beautiful fragrant little tree but very poisonous. The song is about a first love that has gone wrong. He compares her to a Chinaberry tree….. She doesn’t care anymore and like poison she hurts him so deeply.

Chinaberry  Tree by Mew

In parallel sea what would I be?
My first love said to me:
“Tears out for the world to see”
I would not be
I did not see the chinaberry tree
Tears out, it would feel so
Heavenly, heavenly, heavenly
Hard now to picture a me
Without a you

“Don’t interfere”
Part of her back was frozen
For the remainder of the war
“Don’t be concerned”
But I never learned how not to be
As my first love said to me:
“I don’t care. I’m not there”
So that I could not sleep
My whole being was falling apart
So that I soon cried out:
“Dear friends, hold me!”

*Note August 3, 2012: All parts of this tree are ALSO known toxic to pets like dogs or cats and other mammals.