Yesterday I mentioned that chinaberry, Melia azedarach, was an invasive species I’d loved. Over the next several months I’ll be introducing you to a menagerie of plants that take me back to my childhood in the Deep South, and chinaberry is one. My chinaberry memories are all wrapped up in Harper Lee, the perfect mixture of beauty and gothic:
… insects splashing against the screen were Boo Radley’s insane fingers picking the wire to pieces; the chinaberry trees were malignant, hovering, alive. I lingered between sleep and wakefulness until I heard Jem murmur… The night-crawlers had retired, but ripe chinaberries drummed on the roof when the wind stirred, and the darkness was desolate with the barking of distant dogs.
… As well a childhood:
Routine contentment was: improving our treehouse that rested between giant twin chinaberry trees in the back yard, fussing, running through our list of dramas based on the works of Oliver Optic, Victor Appleton, and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
—Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird.