ON any given day, the Melia azedarach can be easily mistaken for a regular Neem tree.
The similarities are misleading, and it is only when the tree is in full bloom that one realises the beauty it holds within itself. Without its lavender-coloured flowers, the Persian Lilac tree suffers from a personality clash and gross mispresentation. So, if you happen to take a turn to Sector 7 from the Sector 7-26 roundabout, you will spot them in a curved line.
It’s in these months (the onset of spring) that the state of confusion is cleared for this is the time when its light purple, fragrant, star-shaped flowers sparkle and shine in clusters, filling up the tree, giving the appearance of snowflakes from a distance. You can spot the green and lavender colours showing off in the sun along the roads, especially if you move towards the southern sectors of the city.
Also known as Chinaberry, Bakain, Dek or Dharek, the Persian lilac is a fast growing deciduous tree whose fruit looks like berries but is tough and brown yellowish coloured. While the fruit is non-edible, extracts from the bark, fruit and leaves are used as insect repellant, and seed oil has its medicinal properties. Meanwhile, in the city, it is a shade giving ornamental tree, although it has not been planted uniformly on the avenues. They make excellent boundary trees, or planted along the road and are native to Southeast Asia and northern Australia.
A hardy tree that requires minimal care and water, Melia azedarach (from the Meliaceae family) is very adaptive, and proliferates fast.
One has to be careful while planting it as its leaf litter can increase the pH levels of soils thereby holding the potential of altering soil chemistry. One can also find the Persian Lilac tree in the Chandigarh Botanical Garden and Nature Park, sectors 1, 7, 10, 26, 29, the 34-35 roundabout, 39, 43, 44, 46, 50, 54, 56.