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Azadirachta indica A. Juss.

Family Name: Meliaceae
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.

Full Sun Moderate Water Herb or Spice Suitable for Roadsides Drought Tolerant Tree


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names
Species Summary

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.
Native Habitat Terrestrial

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. )
Cultural / Religious ( Heritage Tree: There is 1 individual of Azadirachta indica listed as Heritage Trees in Singapore. It can be found in St. John's Island. To find out more about this tree, please visit the Heritage Tree Register.)
[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.

Landscaping Features

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
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
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)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) White

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Green, Green - Light Green



Gardner, S., Sidisunthorn, P., & Chayamarit, K. (2016). Forest Trees of Southern Thailand. Volume 2. Bangkok. Kobfai Publishing Project. 792pp. 

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

Image Repository



Master ID 1445
Species ID 2738
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 21 December 2021.