Neem (Azadirachta Indica)

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azadirachta indica

Neem also known Neemba in Sanskrit is one of the two species of genus Azadirachta. It is also known as Azadirachta indica according to the scientific nomenclature system. In Sanskrit, neem means arista, which means something that is perfect, imperishable and complete. Neem is important since its leaves, seeds, roots and bark contain important compounds that have many medicinal and beauty properties. The tree is supposed to denote ‘good health’ in our Ayurveda.

Neem contains a lot of beneficial compounds that have anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Gedunin and nimbidol found in the leaves of neem are powerful antifungal agents that destroy fungi which cause athlete foot, ringworm and nail fungus.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom – Plantae
Subkingdom – Tracheobionta (Vascular Plant)
Superdivision – Spermatophyta (Seed Plant)
Division – Magnoliophyta (Flowering Plant)
Class – Magnoliopsida (Dicotyledons)
Subclass – Rosidae
Order – Sapindales
Family – Meliaceae (Mahogany Family)
Genus – Azadirachta
Species – Azadirachta indica
Scientific name :  Azadirachta indica

Botanical Description

Neem is a fast growing, evergreen herb that can reach a height of 15 to 20 meters. In severe drought conditions it sheds nearly all of its leaves. It has wide branches which spread to reach 15 to 20 meters in diameter. Neem consists of opposite, pinnate compound leaf system which are 20 to 40 cm long.The arranged leaflets are 3 to 8 cm long. It does not have terminal leaflets and its petioles are short. Its flowers are fragrant and white in colour. These are arranged in an auxillary fashion with an individual flower 5 to 6 mm long. It bears fruits which are oval and smooth. The exocarp (fruit skin) is thin and mesocarp (pulp) is yellowish-white in color, fibrous and bitter in taste. It has elongated seeds enclosed in the endocarp of its fruit (2 to 3 in number).

Origin and Distribution of Neem

Neem is a native to Indian subcontinent (India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives) and also grows in islands located in southern part of Iran. The tropical and sub-tropical regions are the best areas to grow neem.

Favorable Conditions for Growing Neem

Soil : Neem is a hardy tree that does not require much fertile soil. Its tap roots reach far underneath and its lateral roots spread wide into layers of soil for nutrients.  Like most plants neem grows best in deep, rich, dark soils with lots of nutrients and good water holding capacity.
Sun : Neem loves sunlight, especially young neem trees. So more the sunlight,better is growth observed.Neem cannot handle shade.The most important thing for a neem tree is warmth and lots of sunlight. The more of both it gets, the faster it will grow.
Water : The only thing that neem trees cannot handle are soggy and water logged soil. This plant’s roots need to breathe, so swamps might harm neem’s root growth.
Spacing :A Neem tree requires lot of space as it grows 15 to 20 meters in round and dense patterns.

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