Curry tree

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This article is about Murraya koenigii or Bergera koenigii, a tree which produces an aromatic leaf often used in Indian cuisine. For the European plant sometimes referred to as Curry Plant, see Helichrysum italicum. For the dish or sauce, see Curry.
Curry Leaf Tree
Curry Trees.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Rutaceae
Genus: Murraya
Species: M. koenigii
Binomial name
Murraya koenigii
(L.) Sprengel[1]

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

Its leaves are used in many dishes in India and neighbouring countries. Often used in curries, the leaves are generally called by the name 'curry leaves,' although they are also literally 'sweet neem leaves' in most Indian languages (as opposed to ordinary neem leaves which are very bitter and in the family Meliaceae, not Rutaceae).


The small flowers are white and fragrant.
Ripe and unripe fruits.

It is a small tree, growing 4–6 m (13–20 feet) 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 (0.79–1.57 in) long and 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) broad. The plant produces small white flowers which can self-pollinate to produce small shiny-black berries containing a single, large viable seed. Though the berry pulp is edible -- with a sweet but medicinal flavor -- in general, neither the pulp nor seed are used for culinary purposes.

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 ( කරපිංචා), 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 do not 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 an herb in Ayurvedic medicine. They are believed to possess anti-diabetic properties.[2][3][unreliable medical source?][4]

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 an open flame or roast it until crispy and then crush it into a soured soup dish called Maju Krueng.

In the absence of tulsi leaves, curry leaves are used for rituals and pujas.


Seeds must be ripe and fresh to plant; dried or shrivelled 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.

Chemical constituents[edit]

Girinimbine structure

Some of the primary alkaloids found in the Curry Tree leaves, stems, and seeds are as follows: Mahanimbine, girinimbine, koenimbine, isomahanine, mahanine, Indicolactone, 2-methoxy-3-methyl-carbazole.[5]

A 2011 study of girinimbine, a carbazole alkaloid isolated from this plant, found that it inhibited the growth and induced apoptosis in human hepatocellular carcinoma, HepG2 cells in vitro.[6]


  1. ^ "Murraya koenigii information from NPGS/GRIN". Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  2. ^ Arulselvan P, Senthilkumar GP, Sathish Kumar D, Subramanian S (Oct 2006). "Anti-diabetic effect of Murraya koenigii leaves on streptozotocin induced diabetic rats". Pharmazie 61 (10): 874–7. PMID 17069429. 
  3. ^ Rashmee Z Ahmed (30 September 2004). "Traditional diabetes remedy offers hope". The Times Of India. 
  4. ^ Arulselvan P, Subramanian SP (Jan 2007). "Beneficial effects of Murraya koenigii leaves on antioxidant defense system and ultra structural changes of pancreatic beta-cells in experimental diabetes in rats". Chem Biol Interact. 165 (2): 155–64. doi:10.1016/j.cbi.2006.10.014. PMID 17188670. 
  5. ^ Jain, Vandana et al. (2012). "Murraya Koenigii: An Updated Review". International Journal Of Ayurvedic And Herbal Medicine 2 (2): 607:627. ISSN 2249-5746. Retrieved 2014-10-11. 
  6. ^ Syam, Suvitha; Abdul, Ahmad Bustamam; Sukari, Mohd. Aspollah; Mohan, Syam; Abdelwahab, Siddig Ibrahim; Wah, Tang Sook (2011). "The Growth Suppressing Effects of Girinimbine on Hepg2 Involve Induction of Apoptosis and Cell Cycle Arrest". Molecules 16 (8): 7155–70. doi:10.3390/molecules16087155. PMID 21862957. 

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