Curry tree
Curry Trees.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Rutaceae
Genus: Murraya
M. koenigii
Binomial name
Murraya koenigii
(L.) Sprengel[2]
  • Bergera koenigii L.
  • Camunium koenigii (L.) Kuntze
  • Chalcas koenigii (L.) Kurz
  • Chalcas siamensis (Craib) Tanaka
  • Murraya foetidissima Teijsm. & Binn.
  • Murraya siamensis Craib
  • Nimbo melioides Dennst.

The curry tree, Murraya koenigii or Bergera koenigii, is a tropical and sub-tropical tree in the family Rutaceae (the rue family, which includes rue, citrus, and satinwood), native to Asia.[4] 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.

Its leaves, known as curry leaves, are used in many dishes in the Indian subcontinent.


The small flowers are white and fragrant.
The small flowers are white and fragrant.
A macro image of a curry leaf
A macro image of a curry leaf
Ripe and unripe fruits
Ripe and unripe fruits

It is a small tree, growing 4–6 metres (13–20 ft)) tall, with a trunk up to 40 cm (16 in) diameter. The aromatic leaves are pinnate, with 11–21 leaflets, each leaflet 2–4 cm (341+12 in) long and 1–2 cm (1234 in) broad. The plant produces small white flowers which can self-pollinate to produce small shiny-black drupes containing a single, large viable seed. The berry pulp is edible, with a sweet flavor.[5]

Distribution and habitat

The tree is native to the Indian subcontinent.[6] Commercial plantations have been established in India, and more recently Australia.[6]

It grows best in well-drained soil that does not dry out, in areas with full sun or partial shade, preferably away from the wind. Growth is more robust when temperatures are at least 18 °C (64 °F).[7]

Etymology and common names

The generic name, Murraya, derives from Johan Andreas Murray (1740-1791), who studied botany under Carl Linnaeus and became a professor of medicine with an interest in medicinal plants at the University of Göttingen, Germany.[4]

The specific name, koenigii, derives from the last name of botanist Johann Gerhard König.

Curry tree is also called curry leaf tree or curry bush, among numerous local names, depending on country.[8][5]


The fresh leaves are an indispensable part of Indian cuisine and Indian traditional medicines. They are most widely used in southern and west coast Indian cooking, usually fried along with vegetable oil, mustard seeds and chopped onions in the first stage of the preparation. They are also used to make thoran, vada, rasam, and kadhi; additionally, they are often dry-roasted (and then ground) in the preparation of various powdered spice blends (masalas), such as South Indian sambar masala, the main seasoning in the ubiquitous vegetable stew sambar. The curry leaves are also added as flavoring to masala dosa, the South Indian potato-filled crepes, made with a mildly probiotic, fermented lentil and rice batter. The fresh leaves are valued as seasoning in the cuisines of South and Southeast Asia.[5] In Cambodia, where the leaves are called sloek kontroap, the leaves are roasted and used as an ingredient in a soup, maju krueng.[7] In Java, the leaves are often stewed to flavor gulai. Though available dried, the aroma and flavor is greatly inferior.[6] The oil can be extracted and used to make scented soaps.[7]

The leaves of Murraya koenigii are also used as a herb in Ayurvedic and Siddha medicine in which they are believed to possess anti-disease properties,[7][5] but there is no high-quality clinical evidence for such effects.

The seeds may be toxic to humans.


Seeds must be ripe and fresh to plant; dried or shriveled fruits are not viable. One can plant the whole fruit, but it is 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.[4] In India it is mainly planted privately, but also cultivated commercially to a small extent.[9]

Chemical constituents

Chemical structure of girinimbine.
Chemical structure of girinimbine.

Compounds found in curry tree leaves, stems, bark, and seeds include cinnamaldehyde,[10] and numerous carbazole alkaloids, including mahanimbine,[11] girinimbine,[12] and mahanine.

Nutritionally, the leaves are a rich source of carotenoids, beta-carotene, calcium and iron.[13]


  1. ^ Plummer, J. 2021 (2021). "Curry Leaf, Murraya koenigii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2021: e.T156236806A166564522. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2021-2.RLTS.T156236806A166564522.en. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  2. ^ "Murraya koenigii". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
  3. ^ "Murraya koenigii (L.) Sprengel". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2021-09-21.
  4. ^ a b c "Murraya koenigii". Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO, USA. 2019. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d "Murraya koenigii (L.) Spreng". From: Parmar, C. and M. K. Kaushal. 1982. Murraya koenigii. pages 45–48. In: Wild Fruits. Kalyani Publishers, New Delhi, India. In: NewCROP, New Crop Resource Online Program, Center for New Crops and Plant Products, Purdue University. 1982. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  6. ^ a b c Norman, Jill (2002). Herbs & Spices: The Cook's Reference. New York, New York: DK Publishing. pp. 212, 213. ISBN 0789489392.
  7. ^ a b c d "Curry leaf tree (Murraya koenigii)". Heritage Garden. Retrieved 2019-04-02.
  8. ^ "Murraya koenigii (curry leaf tree)". CABI. 14 July 2018. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  9. ^ "Indian Spices". 2008-07-23. Archived from the original on 2008-07-23. Retrieved 2022-09-23.
  10. ^ Sankar Ganesh, Ravishankar Rai; et al. (2015). "In vitro antibiofilm activity of Murraya koenigii essential oil extracted using supercritical fluid CO2 method against Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1". Natural Product Research. 29 (24): 2295–2298. doi:10.1080/14786419.2015.1004673. ISSN 1478-6427. PMID 25635569. S2CID 220349399.
  11. ^ "Mahanimbine". PubChem. 2017.
  12. ^ "Girinimbine". PubChem. 2017.
  13. ^ Drisya, C. R.; Swetha, B. G.; Velu, V.; Indrani, D.; Singh, R. P. (January 2015). "Effect of dried Murraya koenigii leaves on nutritional, textural and organoleptic characeteristics of cookies". Journal of Food Science and Technology. 52 (1): 500–506. doi:10.1007/s13197-013-1002-2. S2CID 96236829.

Media related to Murraya koenigii at Wikimedia Commons