Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Melia azedarach L. var. semperflorens

Now accepted as a form of Melia azedarach L.  For details see Melia azedarach L.  The variety semperflorens tends to retain its leaves under appropriate conditions but is not truly evergreen.

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘Drawn at the Nursery of Messrs. Colvill, in the King’s Road, where the plant [Melia semperflorens] has flowered the second year from seed imported from the Calcutta Garden, into which, according to Dr. Roxburgh, it was introduced from the West Indies.  The species was first distinguished from Melia Azedarach by Dr. Solander, as is proved by his manuscripts in Mr. Brown’s library, where we have copied the above Latin observations, the first of which is adopted in the ” Observationes” of Swartz, without notice of the real author.  Sempervirens is a smaller plant than Azedarach, and often flowers the second year from seed, as in the present instance; the leaflets of the foliage are of lighter green, seldom more than seven, somewhat wrinkled, with deeper and more irregular incisions, and a longer taper-pointed termination.  Azedarach has leaves of a heavier green, with from nine to ten leaflets, which are even, shining, and ferruginously speckled underneath; the petioles are also longer and more rounded at the base.  It is known by the name of the ” Bead-tree,” its yellow fruit, about the size of a cherry, containing a stone which is strung into Rosaries for the use of the Catholics, and is curiously adapted to the purpose by a natural perforation in the direction of its axis.  This species has been thence denominated by the Spaniards the ” Tree of Paradise” (Arbol de Parayso).  We have compared the present plant with native specimens from the West Indies in the Banksian and Lambertian Herbariums, and have no doubt of the specific identity of the two.  Dr. Solander observes that sempervirens is an improper name, for, though the foliage is of longer endurance than in Azedarach, it is still deciduous, and not evergreen.  Swartz says, in Jamaica the species varies intermediately from a tree to a small bush.  It is also native of the island of St. Vincent.’  [BR f.643/1822]. 

‘Professor Swartz, in his Observations, has separated the sempervirens, considering it as a distinct species, in which he has been followed by Willdenow and Martyn; but we cannot find any marks by which they can be distinguished; those that have been offered, certainly will not hold. […] The same plant [is] deciduous in the greenhouse, and evergreen if kept in the stove.’  [BM t.1066/1807].

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [T.672/1843].


Published Mar 21, 2009 - 04:24 PM | Last updated Mar 24, 2010 - 02:22 PM

Shown are the pinnate leaves with toothed leaflets, and star-shaped lilac flowers.  Botanical Register f.644, 1822.

Melia azedarach L. var. semperflorens | BR f.643/1822 | BHL

Family Meliaceae
Region of origin

West Indies

  • Melia semperflorens Sw.
Common Name

Evergreen bead tree

Name in the Camden Park Record

Melia semperflorens - evergreen Bead tree 

Confidence level high