The curry tree (Murraya koenigii
) is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the family Rutaceae (the rue family, which includes rue, citrus, and satinwood), and is native to Asia. The plant is also sometimes called sweet neem
, though M. koenigii
is in a different family to neem, Azadirachta indica, which is in the related family Meliaceae.
Curry Leaf tree is a small or medium sized tree, most famous for its aromatic leaves that provide curry spice. Curry leaves are extensively used in Southern India and Sri Lanka (and are absolutely necessary for the authentic flavour), but are also of some importance in Northern India. It is a small tree, growing 4-6 m tall, with a trunk up to 40 cm diameter. The leaves are pinnate, with 11-21 leaflets, each leaflet 2-4 cm long and 1-2 cm broad. They are highly aromatic. The flowers are small white, and fragrant. The small black, shiny berries are edible, but their seeds are poisonous. Together with South Indian immigrants, curry leaves reached Malaysia, South Africa and Réunion island. When cooking, the leaves are generally used fresh off of the tree. Outside the Indian sphere of influence, they are rarely found. The yellow "curry powder" that is common in Western countries is actually not curry at all, but a mix of spices intended to mimic the true curry flavor. The yellow color comes from turmeric root.
Leaves are digestive, tonic, stimulant, rich in vitamin A and calcium. Leaves are also used for diarrhoea, dysentry and checking vomitting. Bark-paste is antisceptic, applied to skin eruptions. Root extract is taken for relief from renal pain.