Azadirachta indica A. Juss.
|Synonyms:||Melia azadirachta L., Antelaea azadirachta (L.) Adelb.|
|Common Name:||Neem Tree, Nim Tree, Indian Lilac, Margosa Tree|
Azadirachta indica is a shade providing tree where its extracts have insecticidal, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory effects. Oil from the seed is used to make a wide variety of products such as soap, toothpaste, lotions and insecticides.
|Name Status (botanical)|
Classifications and Characteristics
|Plant Division||Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)|
|Plant Growth Form||Tree (Medium (16m-30m))|
|Lifespan (in Singapore)||Perennial|
|Mode of Nutrition||Autotrophic|
|Maximum Height||30 m|
|Native Distribution||The exact origin is unknown. It is probably found in Myanmar, but widely cultivated and naturalized in tropical Asia and Africa.|
Description and Ethnobotany
|Growth Form||It is a tree, up to 15 (-30) m tall, with round large crown and sometimes fluted buttress.|
|Trunk||Bark is dark grey outside and reddish on the inside, deeply fissured and flaking in old trees. Sap is colourless, sticky and unpleasant smelling.|
|Foliage||Leaves are compound, alternate, and tends to cluster near the end of the branches. The compound leaf is pinnate (15 – 35 cm long) with 8-19 leaflets. Leaflet is lanceolate (3.5 – 10 cm long and 1.2 – 4 cm wide), sometimes slightly curved like sickle, with distinct toothed margin, tapering tips and distinctly asymmetric base. Leaves are red when young and gradually turn green. When injured, the leaves have a slight garlic scent. The leaf stalk (petiole) is 3 – 7 cm long, where the base is slightly swollen and have 2 pairs of small pit-like glands.|
|Flowers||Flowers are borne in a branched cluster (thyrse), up to 30 cm long. Flower is small, white or pale yellow, and slightly scented. Each flower consists of 5 petals (4-6mm long) which are hairy, strap-shaped and spreading. Filaments are fused to form a 10-lobed staminal tube, which is slightly ribbed. At the base of the lobes, there are 10 pale orange anthers which are slightly protruding out of the lobes. Ovary is surrounded by a ring-like disc at the base and the stigma is 3-lobed.|
|Fruits||Fruit is oval or oblong shaped (1-2 cm long), green when young and ripen to yellow or purple. Fruit has a thin fleshy outer layer (exocarp) and does not split open. Each fruit contains 1 (sometimes 2) seeds which are oval shaped.|
|Similar||Azadirachta indica closely resembles Melia azedarach, and can be distinguished by their leaves. A. indica has pinnate leaves while M. azedarach have bipinnate leaves. A. indica is similar to A. excelsa and differ in terms of the size of the leaflets and the margin. A indica has 8 – 19 leaflets with toothed margin while A. excelsa has 14 – 23 leaflets with entire margin.|
|Cultivation||This fast-growing species should be planted in fertile, well-drained soil. It can grow under many different soil types, but it does not tolerate waterlogging. It is highly drought tolerant when planted in the ground. Trees can also be grown in large containers, but they will be smaller and less drought tolerant.|
|Etymology||Genus Azadirachta is derived from Persian, which means free tree. Species indica, is named after the country India.|
|Ethnobotanical Uses||Food (Herb and Spice : In Southeast Asia, young twigs and flowers are reportedly boiled and eaten as vegetable. In Africa, the leaves are chewed to prevent conception and induce abortion.)
Medicinal ( In India, people bathe in water with neem extracts to treat health problems such as boils, ringworm, ulcers and rheumatism. It is a sacred tree to the Hindus and often used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine.)
Timber & Products ( The wood is hard and termite resistant, good for construction such as making carts, furniture, plywood and blockboard. In West Africa, the wood is used as firewood and fuel. In East Java, tree is tapped to extract exudates to make paper glue. )
[Others]: It is commonly grown in tropical countries to provide shade. Neem tree contains Azadirachtin, which have insecticidal, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory effects. Oil extracted from the seed is used to make soap, toothpaste, lotions and pesticides in South Asia. The residue after oil extraction (Neem cake) is used as livestock feed, as well as fertilizer.
|Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance||Dry Soils / Drought, Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils|
|Landscape Uses||Roadside Tree / Palm, Phytoremediation (Ground / Water Contaminant(s))|
Plant Care and Propagation
|Light Preference||Full Sun|
|Water Preference||Moderate Water|
|Propagation Method||Seed, Stem Cutting, Sucker, Marcotting|
|Mature Foliage Colour(s)||Green|
|Mature Foliage Texture(s)||Glossy / Shiny|
|Foliar Shape(s)||Non-Palm Foliage|
|Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio||3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)|
Fruit, Seed & Spore
|Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms||Green, Green - Light Green|
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Lemmens, R.H.M.J., Soerianegara, I., and Wong, W.C. (Editors). 1995. Plant Resources of South-East Asia Volume 5 (2). Timber Trees: Minor commercial timbers. Indonesia Prosea Foundation. 655 pages.
Mabberley, D.J., Pannell, C.M., and Sing, A.M. 1995. Meliaceae. Flora Malesiana. Series 1. Volume 12 (1) 1 – 407.
V. Sakthivel and M. Vivekanandan. . Physiology and Molecular Biology of Plants. 15. 2. 175-180