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This article is about Murraya koenigii, an aromatic leaf often used in Indian cuisine. For Curry Plant, see Helichrysum italicum. For the dish or sauce, see Curry.

The curry tree (Assamese: নৰসিংহ, Bengali: কারী পাতা, Sinhala: කරපිංචා, Tamil:கறிவேப்பிலை(curry), Kannada:ಕರಿಬೇವು, Telugu:కరివేపాకు, Malayalam: കറിവേപ്പിലOriya: ଭୃସଙ୍ଗ ପତ୍ର, Hindi: करीपत्ता, कड़ीपत्ता, मीठा नीम, मीठा नीम पत्ता, Marathi: कढीलिंब, Gujarati: મીઠો લીમડો, કરીપત્તા, કડીપત્તા), Myanmar: ပျဉ်းတော်သိမ်, (Murraya koenigii; syn. Bergera koenigii, Chalcas koenigii) is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the family Rutaceae, which is native to India.

Its leaves are used in many dishes in India and neighbouring contries. Often used in curries, the leaves generally go by the name “curry leaves”, though they are also called “sweet neem leaves”. In Tamil it’s pronounced ‘kariveppilai’, in Telugu ‘karivepaaku’ and in Malayalam ‘kariveppila’. Literally, ‘kari’ means ‘curry’ or it can mean ‘black’, ‘veppu’ neem and ‘ilai’/’ila’ ‘leaf’. In Kannada the name means “black neem”, since the appearance of the leaves is similar to the unrelated bitter neem tree. In Telugu, it is pronounced as Ka/ri/vepa/aaku. Similarly, in Gujarati it is known as ‘limdo’ or ‘meetho leemdo’ and in Hindi as ‘meetha neem’, meaning “sweet neem”. Again, in Hindi and Urdu it is also called ‘karipatta’ where ‘patta’ means ‘leaf’.


It is a small tree, growing 4–6 m (13-20 feet) 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.[citation needed]

The species name commemorates the botanist Johann König.


The leaves are highly valued as seasoning in southern and west-coast Indian cooking, and Sri Lankan cooking, especially in curries, usually fried along with the chopped onion in the first stage of the preparation. They are also used to make thoran, vada, rasam and kadhi. In their fresh form, they have a short shelf life, and they don’t keep well in the refrigerator. They are also available dried, though the aroma is largely inferior.

The leaves of Murraya koenigii are also used as a herb in Ayurvedic medicine. They are much valued as an anti-diabetic,[2] [3]antioxidant,[4] antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, anti-hypercholesterolemic etc. They also contain iron.

Although most commonly used in curries, leaves from the curry tree can be used in many other dishes to add flavor. In Cambodia, Khmer toast the leaves in open flame or roasted it to a crunch and crushed it into a soured soup dish called Maju Krueng.


Seeds must be ripe and fresh to plant; dried or shriveled fruits are not viable. You can plant the whole fruit, but it’s best to remove the pulp before planting in potting mix that is kept moist but not wet.

Stem cuttings can be also used for propagation.

Chemical constituents

Recently Syam et al. 2011 reported that girinimbine, a carbazole alkaloid isolated from this plant, inhibited the growth and induced apoptosis in human hepatocellular carcinoma, HepG2 cells in vitro.[5]

Written on June 20th, 2012 , Forestry Tags:

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