Indian Name : Neem
Botanical Name : Azadirachta indica
Parts Use: Leaves, Bark, Seed
large evergreen tree, 12 to 18 meter in height and 1.8 to
2.4 meter in girth with a straight bole and long spreading
branches forming a broad crown as much as 20 metres
across, commonly found throughout greater parts of India.
Grey or dark reddish brown with numerous and scattered
tubercles. The bark exudes a gum known as East India gum.
Leaves alternate 20 - 30 cm long, leaflets 8 - 19
alternate or opposite ovate glossy, bluntly serrate.
: white or pale yellow, small, scented, numerous on
long axillary panicles, have a honey like scent and
attract many bees.
: Fruit is a ovoid bluntly pointed, smooth drupe green
when young and turns yellow with a very thin epicarp,
mesocarp with scanty pulp and a hard bony endocarp,
enclosing one seed.
timber is relatively heavy with a specific gravity varying
from 0.56 to 0.85 (average 0.68) when freshly cut, it has
a strong smell.
The flowering season of neem varies from place to place.
Generally it flowers from January to May and the ripening
time of fruits is from May to August. The fruit pulp is
grows on almost all kinds of soils including clayey,
saline and alkaline soils but does well on black cotton
soils. It thrives better than most other trees on dry
stony saline soils with a waterless sub-soil or in places
where there is a hard calcareous or clay pan near the
surface. It does not tolerate inundation. It has a unique
property of calcium mining which changes the acidic soil
into neutral. Neem also grows well on some acidic soil. It
is said that the fallen neem leaves which are slightly
alkaline are good for neutralising acidity in the soil.
Neem can be easily raised through direct sowing, entire /
polypot seedlings or root-shoot cuttings. For degraded
areas direct sowing is more successful. Entire / polypot
seedlings or root-shoot cuttings are more relevant for
agro-forestry / silvi pasture and road side avenue
plantations. Direct sowing is done either by dibbling in
bushes, broadcast sowing, line sowing, sowing on mounds or
ridges, sowing in trenches in sunken beds in circular
saucers or by aerial sowing. The choice varies with
edaphic, climatic, biotic and economic conditions of the
site. Planting in pits is carried out by using 20 to 45
cms tall seedlings. Taller ones promise better survival.
Planting of stumps prepared from a year old seedlings in
crowbar holes also gives good results.
Climatic conditions for growth :
neem tree originated in India and loves growing in a
tropical to subtropical climate. It needs and positively
thrives in hot weather, but it can handle the occasional
up to 50°C (120F) are fine for growing neem trees. So is
the occasional drop down to about 5°C (35F). Below that
the neem tree will shed its leaves. Longer exposure to
cold weather can cause permanent damage or kill a neem
tree. The younger the tree, the more vulnerable it is to
cold weather. An ample supply of water is good when
growing neem trees, but the tree can make do with very
little. The areas where neem trees grow naturally
receive between 450 and 1200 mm of rain per year, but neem
has been planted in drier regions as well. There are neem
trees growing in areas that receive as little as 200 mm
Advice : The Best
time to buy this herb :
October to December
Neem Leaf Tea : Several companies have started
processing neem leaves for Tea production and selling as
neem leaf Tea. Although it tastes bitter, in the long run
it may catch up with the masses especially to the health
- All parts of the tree are said to have
medicinal properties (seeds, leaves, flowers and bark)
and are used for preparing many different medical
- Neem oil is used for preparing cosmetics
(soap, neem shampoo, balms and creams and many oral
- Besides its use in traditional Indian
medicine, the neem tree is of great importance for its
anti-desertification properties and possibly as a good
carbon dioxide sink.
- Practitioners of traditional Indian medicine
recommend that patients with chicken pox sleep on neem
- Neem gum is used as a bulking agent and for
the preparation of special purpose food.
- Traditionally, slender neem branches have been
chewed to clean one's teeth. Neem twigs are still
collected and sold in markets for this use, and in
rural India one often sees youngsters in the streets
chewing on neem twigs(for the neem twigs and branches
have great dental effects).
- Extract of neem leaves is thought to be
helpful as malaria prophylaxis.
Neem extracts as insecticides: Neem products are
unique in that they are not outright killers. Instead,
they alter an insects behaviour or life processes in
ways that can be extremely subtle. Eventually,
however, the insect can no longer feed or breed or
metamorphose and can cause no further damage.
- Azadirachtin : One of the first active
ingredients isolated from neem, Azadirachtin has
proved to be the trees main agent for battling
insects. It appears to cause some 90% of the effect on
- Fungicides : Neem has proved effective
against certain fungi that infect the human body. Such
fungi are an increasing problems & have been
difficult to control by synthetic fungicides.
- Antibacterials : In trials neem oil has
suppressed several species of pathogenic bacteria
including Staphylococcus & Salmonella spp.
- Antiviral agents : In India, there is
much interesting, but anecdotal information
attributing antiviral activity of Neem. Its efficacy
particularly against pox viruses is strongly believed,
even among those of advanced medical training. Small
pox, chicken pox have traditionally been treated with
a paste of neem leaves – usually rubbed directly on
to the infected skin.
- Dermatological Insects : In India,
villagers apply neem oil to the hair to kill head
lice, reportedly with great success. Neem seed oil and
leaf extracts may be the wonder cure for psoriasis. It
relieves the itching and pain while reducing the scale
and redness of the patchy lesions.
- Dental Treatments : In India, millions of
people use twigs as "tooth brushes" every
day. Dentists have endorsed this ancient practice,
finding it effective in preventing periodontal
- Malaria : Practitioners of the Indian
Ayurvedic Medicine system have been preparing neem in
oral doses for malarial patients for centuries. Neem's
antimalarial activity was reported in Ayurveda books
as far back as 2000 BC by Charaka & 1500 BC by
- Pain Relief & Fever Reduction : Neem
may also be a ready source of low cost analgesic (pain
relieving), or antipyretic (fever reducing) compounds.
In trials, positive results have been obtained for
significant analgesic, antipyretic &
- Contraceptive Agents : Indian scientists
from the Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied
Sciences (DIPAS) have applied for patents on chemicals
isolated from the neem oil which have proved to be
promising contraceptive agents which are DK-1 &
DNM-5. A third active agent coded as DNM-7 acts as an
abortifacient causing abortion if administered orally
after implantation has already occurred.
- Veterinary Medicine : Ancient practice
& initial testing of neem derivatives against
various livestock pests indicated that this is an area
of particular promise for the future. Insects of
veterinary importance are obvious targets for neem
- Cosmetics : Neem is perceived in India as
a beauty aid. Powdered leaves are a major component of
at least one widely used facial cream. Purified neem
oil is also used in nail polish & other cosmetics.
- Lubricants : Neem oil is non drying and
it resists degradation better than most vegetable
- Fertilizers : Neem has demonstrated
considerable potential as a fertilizer. Neem cake is
widely used to fertilize cash crops particularly
sugarcane & vegetables. Ploughed into the soil, it
protects plant roots from nematodes & white ants,
probably due to its contents of the residual limonoids.
In Karnataka, people grow the tree mainly for its
green leaves & twigs, which they puddle into
flooded rice fields before the rice seedlings are
- Resin : An exudate can be tapped from the
trunk by woundings the bark. This high protein
material is not a substitute for polysaccharide gum,
such as gum arabic. It may however, have a potential
as a food additive, and it is widely used in South
Asia as "Neem glue".
- Bark : Neem bark contains 14% tannins, an
amount similar to that in conventional tannin
yieldings tree (such as Acacia decurrens). Moreover,
it yields a strong, coarse fibre commonly woven into
ropes in the villages of India.
- Neem fruits : The fruits are recommended
for urinary diseases, piles, intestinal worms, leprosy
etc. The dry fruits are bruised in water &
employed to treat cutaneous diseases.
- Soap : India's supply of neem oil is now
used mostly by soap manufacturers. Although much of it
goes to small scale speciality soaps, large scale
producers also use it, mainly because it is cheap.
Generally, the crude oil is used to produce coarse
Quality of Neem :
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