Cape lilac Melia azedarach, photographed by Forest & Kim Starr.

Belongs within: Sapindales.
Contains: Guareeae.

The Meliaceae are a pantropical family of trees. Some members of the family are significant timber trees such as species of Cedrela (toon) and Swietenia (mahogany). Species of Swietenia are native to the Neotropics but have become widely grown commercially in southern Asia and Fiji as populations declined significantly in their native range. The Cape lilac or white cedar Melia azedarach is an Indo-Australian native that is widely grown as an ornamental or for timber.

Molecular data supports division of the Meliaceae into the subfamilies Cedreloideae and Melioideae: the Cedreloideae have the fruit a septifragal capsule with the seeds usually being winged whereas the Melioideae usually have the fruit a loculicidal capsule and the seeds with an aril or sarcotesta (Angiosperm Phylogeny Website).

Characters (from the Angiosperm Phylogeny Website): Trees; bark often rather bitter; secretory cells with resin, etc. present; nodes 5:5; plants often dioecious, but flowers apparently perfect, (3-)5(-8)-merous; calyx often connate, androecium 2x corolla, connate (occasionally 5-30 in a single whorl); gynoecium postgenitally united, opposite corolla, style-head discoid or capitate (occasionally more or less lobed), stigma wet; ovules with outer integument 2-5 cells across, inner integument 2-4 cells across, placental obturator common; archesporium often multicellular; seeds often pachychalazal, coat vascularised, testa undistinguished but thick, endotesta crystalliferous.

<==Meliaceae [Meliales]
    |  i. s.: Clemensia YY22
    |         Carapoxylon MS06
    |         Entandrophragma MS06
    |         Chisochetonoxylon MS06
    |         Paratrichilioxylon russellii Koeniguer 1971 [=P. russelli] CBH93
    |         Psilastephanocolporites grandis CBH93
    |         Soymida febrifuga M72
    |--Cedreloideae [Swietenieae, Swietenioideae] MS06
    |    |--+--Schmardaea microphylla MS06
    |    |  `--Chukrasia tabularis MS06
    |    `--+--Cedreleae MS06
    |       |    |--Cedrela MS06
    |       |    |    |--C. australis H42
    |       |    |    `--C. odorata MS06
    |       |    `--Toona MS06
    |       |         |--T. australis C70
    |       |         |--T. ciliata F04
    |       |         `--T. sulcata MS06
    |       `--+--Khaya MS06
    |          |    |--K. anthotheca MS06
    |          |    `--K. senegalensis LK14
    |          `--+--Xylocarpeae MS06
    |             |    |--Carapa MS06
    |             |    |    |--C. guianensis MS06
    |             |    |    `--C. moluccensis H09
    |             |    `--Xylocarpus MS06
    |             |         |--X. granatum LK14
    |             |         |--X. mekongensis MS06
    |             |         `--X. moluccensis LK14
    |             `--+--Swietenia MS06
    |                |    |--S. humilis BT87
    |                |    |--S. macrophylla MS06
    |                |    `--S. mahogani B06
    |                `--+--Pseudocedrela kotschyi MS06
    |                   `--+--Lovoa swynnertonii MS06
    |                      `--Capuronianthus [Capuronianthoideae] MS06
    |                           `--C. mahafalensis MS06
    `--Melioideae [Trichilieae] MS06
         |--+--Melieae MS06
         |  |    |--Melia azedarach MS06 [incl. M. azedarach var. subtripinnata LO98]
         |  |    `--Azadirachta indica MS06
         |  `--Owenia MS06
         |       |--O. acidula M99
         |       |--O. reticulata LK14
         |       |--O. venosa B00
         |       `--O. vernicosa MS06
         `--+--Astrotrichilia MS06
            `--+--+--Sandoricum [Sandoriceae] MS06
               |  |    `--S. koetjape MS06
               |  `--+--Ekebergia capensis MS06
               |     `--Quivisianthe [Quivisianthoideae] MS06
               |          `--Q. papinae MS06
               `--+--Walsura tubulata MS06
                  `--+--Vavaea [Vavaeeae] MS06
                     |    `--V. amicorum MS06
                     `--+--Guareeae MS06
                        `--+--+--Cipadessa baccifera MS06
                           |  `--Pseudoclausena chrysogyne MS06
                           `--+--Munronia pinnata MS06
                              `--+--+--Pseudobersama mosambicensis MS06
                                 |  `--Trichilia MS06
                                 |       |--T. dregeana QLB05
                                 |       |--T. emetica MS06
                                 |       `--T. havanensis J87
                                 `--+--+--Lepidotrichilia volkensii MS06
                                    |  `--Malleastrum mandanense MS06
                                    `--Turraeeae MS06
                                         |--Nymania capensis MS06
                                         `--+--Naregamia alata [=Turraea alata] MS06
                                            `--+--Calodecaryia crassifolia MS06
                                               `--+--Humbertioturraea MS06
                                                  `--Turraea MS06
                                                       |--T. pubescens LK14
                                                       `--T. sericea MS06

*Type species of generic name indicated


[BT87] Baker, E. W., & D. M. Tuttle. 1987. The false spider mites of Mexico (Tenuipalpidae: Acari). United States Department of Agriculture, Technical Bulletin 1706: 1–237.

[B06] Biswas, A. 2006. Pteridophytes of Indian Botanic Garden, Howrah. Bulletin of the Botanical Survey of India 48: 175–188.

[B00] Braby, M. F. 2000. Butterflies of Australia: their identification, biology and distribution vol. 1. CSIRO Publishing: Collingwood (Victoria).

[CBH93] Collinson, M. E., M. C. Boulter & P. L. Holmes. 1993. Magnoliophyta (‘Angiospermae’). In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 809–841. Chapman & Hall: London.

[C70] Common, I. F. B. 1970. Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies). In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers pp. 765–866. Melbourne University Press.

[F04] Ferrar, P. 2004. Australian entomology: isolated, or in touch with the rest of the world? Australian Journal of Entomology 43 (3): 329–333.

[H09] Hedley, C. 1909. The Marine Fauna of Queensland: Address by the President of Section D. Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science: Brisbane.

[H42] Hill, G. F. 1942. Termites (Isoptera) from the Australian Region (including Australia, New Guinea and islands south of the Equator between 140°E. longitude and 170°W. longitude). Commonwealth of Australia Council for Scientific and Industrial Research: Melbourne.

[J87] Judd, W. S. 1987. Floristic study of Morne La Visite and Pic Macaya National Parks, Haiti. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum—Biological Sciences 32 (1): 1–136.

[LO98] Lack, H. W., & H. Ohba. 1998. Die Xylothek des Chikusai Kato. Willdenowia 28: 263–276.

[LK14] Lyons, M. N., G. J. Keighery, L. A. Gibson & T. Handasyde. 2014. Flora and vegetation communities of selected islands off the Kimberley coast of Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 81: 205–244.

[M99] Matthews, M. 1999. Heliothine Moths of Australia: A guide to bollworms and related noctuid groups. CSIRO Publishing.

[M72] Mitra, S. N. 1972. Observations on the vegetation of the Upper Damodar catchment area. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 69 (1): 17–25.

[MS06] Muellner, A. N., V. Savolainen, R. Samuel & M. W. Chase. 2006. The mahogany family "out-of-Africa": divergence time estimation, global biogeographic patterns inferred from plastid rbcL DNA sequences, extant, and fossil distribution of diversity. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 40 (1): 236–250.

[QLB05] Quicke, D. L. J., N. M. Laurenne & M. Barclay. 2005. A new host record for the Afrotropical parasitic wasp genus Bathyaulax Sz├ępligeti (Hymenoptera: Braconidae: Braconinae) confirmed using DNA sequence data. Journal of Hymenoptera Research 14 (1): 96–101.

[YY22] Yampolsky, C., & H. Yampolsky. 1922. Distribution of sex forms in the phanerogamic flora. Bibliotheca Genetica 3: 1–62.

Last updated: 8 August 2021.

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