Curry tree

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Curry 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) 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, Sri Lanka, 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
Ripe fruit and seed
Curry leaves in a tree in Assam

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 flavour—in general, neither the pulp nor seed is used for culinary purposes.[2]

The species name commemorates the botanist Johann König. The genus Murray commemorates Swedish physician and botanist Johan Andreas Murray who died in 1791. [2]


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. In Sri Lanka curry tree is called Karapincha (කරපිංචා). 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. They do, however, keep quite well frozen if well wrapped. Leaves can also be harvested from home-raised plants as it is also fairly easily grown in warmer areas of the world, or in containers where the climate is not supportive outdoors.

The leaves of Murraya koenigii are also used as an herb in Ayurvedic medicine. They are believed to possess anti-diabetic properties.[3][4][5]

Although most commonly used in curries, leaves from the curry tree can be used in many other dishes to add flavour. 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.

Because of its characteristic aromatic properties, it is used in soap making, body lotions, diffusers, potpourri, air fresheners, body fragrances, perfumes, bath and massage oils, aromatherapy, towel scenting, spas and health clinics, incense, facial steams, and hair treatments.

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


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.

Chemical constituents[edit]

Girinimbine structure

Compounds found in curry tree leaves, stems, bark, and seeds contain cinnamaldehyde,[6] and numerous carbazole alkaloids,[7] including mahanimbine[8] and girinimbine.[9]


  1. ^ "Murraya koenigii". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  2. ^ a b Henry, Trimen (1893). A hand-book to the flora of Ceylon. London: Dulau & Co. p. 219. Retrieved 1 August 2015. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Rashmee Z Ahmed (30 September 2004). "Traditional diabetes remedy offers hope". The Times Of India. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ 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. ISSN 1478-6427. 
  7. ^ Jain, Vandana; et al. (2012). "Murraya Koenigii: An Updated Review" (PDF). International Journal of Ayurvedic and Herbal Medicine. 2 (2): 607:627. ISSN 2249-5746. Retrieved 2014-10-11. 
  8. ^ "Mahanimbine". PubChem. 2017. 
  9. ^ "Girinimbine". PubChem. 2017. 

External links[edit]