|Melia azedarach in flower|
They are characterised by alternate, usually pinnate leaves without stipules, and by syncarpous, apparently bisexual (but actually mostly cryptically unisexual) flowers borne in panicles, cymes, spikes, or clusters. Most species are evergreen, but some are deciduous, either in the dry season or in winter.
The family includes about 50 genera and 550 species, with a pantropical distribution; one genus (Toona) extends north into temperate China and south into southeast Australia, and another (Melia) nearly as far north.
Some economically important species belong to this family:
- Neem tree Azadirachta indica (India)
- Crabwood Tree Carapa procera (South America and Africa)
- Cedrela Cedrela odorata (Central and South America; timber also known as Spanish-cedar)
- Sapele Entandrophragma cylindricum (tropical Africa)
- Utile or Sipo, Entandrophragma utile (tropical Africa)
- Bossé Guarea cedrata (Africa)
- Bossé Guarea thompsonii (Africa)
- Ivory Coast Mahogany Khaya ivorensis (tropical Africa)
- Senegal Mahogany Khaya senegalensis (tropical Africa)
- Chinaberry or Bead Tree, Melia azedarach (North America, Queensland, India and southern China)
- Mahogany Swietenia species (tropical Americas)
- Australian Redcedar Toona australis (Australia), often included in Toona ciliata (seq.)
- Toon, surian (int. trade) Toona ciliata (India, southeast Asia and eastern Australia)
- Of a gynoecium, made up of united carpels
- Pennington, T.D. & Styles, B.T. (1975): A generic monograph of the Meliaceae. Blumea 22: 419-540.
- Meliaceae in L. Watson and M.J. Dallwitz (1992 onwards). The families of flowering plants.
- Project Meliaceae
- For reference about the Malaysian species visit: http://sites.google.com/site/malaysianedibleflora