Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Potential growing areas for Melia azedarach L. in Argentina, as oil producer for biodiesel and bio-insecticide.

Abstract

Melia azedarach, Chinaberry or bead tree, is cultivated for its panicles of fragrant lilac, or pink-purple, flowers. The wood is utilized for furniture and firewood. The leaves and fruits have insecticidal properties. Oil can be extracted from the drupes and can be used for biodiesel or bio-insecticide. In Argentina it was introduced as an ornamental and soon became naturalized. The aim of this study was to identify the potential growing areas for cultivation of this species, using lands which are unsuitable for food production but can be useful to produce oil for biodiesel or bio-insecticide. It was necessary to identify the requirements, limits and tolerance of biometeorological conditions for this species, taking into account the climatic characteristics of its native areas and of those regions where it has been successfully grown worldwide. Mean annual rainfall and temperature data available for the period 1981-2010, from the 125 meteorological and agrometeorological stations existing in the country, were used. By overlaying maps of temperature and rainfall, it was possible to produce an agroclimatic suitability map and to define five areas, namely: optimal, very suitable, suitable, marginal and nonsuitable. Those areas classified as optimal and very suitable are found in humid and subhumid-humid climates, respectively. Based on the reviewed literature, the species has exhibited an invasive behavior under such conditions. Therefore, planting this species as an energy crop should be restricted to subhumid-dry climates. In humid climates, afforestation with Chinaberry tree is only recommended for those lands which require rehabilitation, due to water erosion problems.