Neem (Azadirachta indica)


Neem blossoms (Azadirachta indica)

***** Location: India
***** Season: Spring
***** Category: Plant


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Neem blossoms are especially used in a special dish called neem patchidi - a preparation with neem blossoms and curds during Tamizh New Year's day which generally falls on 14th April.

It is supposed to do a world of good for our body's digestive system but as kids we used to hate it!
So the toothpicks are also best when new shoots are coming out, which is in early/ mid-spring

Kala Ramesh


Quote from Koeisha & Co.

The birth of the toothpick

Along with Buddhism

Toothpick was introduced into Japan in 584 (Nara period). It was brought in with Buddhism via China and Korea.
Buddha (500BC) had originally taught his disciples to clean their teeth with tufted toothbrush. In India they used twigs from Neem tree and others. They called them [danta-kashuta] in Sanskrit. [Danta] is the origin of dental and [kashuta] means twig.

As they did not grow in China the poplar was used instead. The Chinese and Japanese word for poplar is YO and for branch JI, hence the name YOJI or TSUMAYOJI for toothpick in Japanese.
Even now in India [Danta] means 32, the number of teeth.
© Toothpick History and Daruma San

In rural Kerala it is a common phenomenon even now, to use fresh, green twigs of the mango tree, along with neem (vembu) and babul.


India's "Village Pharmacy"
Steve Nix

The neem tree could have been designed by a celestial committee (maybe it was).

A collaboration of genetic engineers, chemical engineers, pharmacists, agronomists, and dieticians could not have produced a more interesting, and some say, valuable, plant. I'll let you decide after reading this brief overview.

Azadirachta indica is "tailor-made for combating the serious problems confronting mankind today" says the Neem Foundation. " Studies through appropriate scientific channels are increasing and verifying the traditional uses and are finding even more uses for neem. Although major studies to conclusively prove neem's effectiveness are limited by financing and the general lack of knowledge in the West about it, preliminary studies suggest exciting uses for neem."

From the very beginning of recorded human history, people have used the mysterious neem tree.

Today, rural Indians call this tree their "village pharmacy" because it is said to "cure" diseases and disorders ranging from bad teeth and bedbugs to ulcers and malaria. The seeds, bark and leaves contain compounds called limonoids with proven antiseptic, antiviral, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and antifungal uses.

Neem has a cousin that is a very familiar tree in the United States called the Chinaberry. Many North Americans are familiar with the abundant Chinaberry tree, Melia azedarach . Also known as umbrella tree, this naturalized western Asian tree is a colonizer of disturbed sites throughout the South. It can be messy with surface roots, brittle wood, and toxic berries. However, it has an ability to grow in hostile sites and produce desirable shade.

Neem, on the other hand, is a sturdy, broadleaved evergreen. In the seasonally dry hills of central India, Azadirachta indica , is very much in existence with the people and animals in villages and along roadsides. It will defoliate during periods of extreme drought or freezing temperatures. Native to the dry forest areas of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, neem thrives in the dry areas of the tropics and subtropics.

Mature neem trees are capable of withstanding mild freezes and can be grown in some of the United States south, along coastal California to San Francisco and on the East coast as far north as central Florida. In freeze zones they must be grown potted and taken in during cold snaps.

Birth control (women) -
Used as a vaginal lubricant, neem oil was up to 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.

Malaria -
An active ingredient in neem leaves, called irodin A, is toxic to resistant strains of malaria.

More is here:
© forestry.about.com / Steve Nix


Neem (Azadirachta indica, syn. Melia azadirachta L., Antelaea azadirachta (L.) Adelb.) is a tree in the mahogany family Meliaceae. It is one of two species in the genus Azadirachta, and is native to Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, and Pakistan growing in tropical and semi-tropical regions. Other vernacular names include Azad Dirakht (Persian), DogonYaro (Nigerian), Margosa, Neeb (Arabic), Nimtree, Nimba (Sanskrit), Vepu, Vempu, Vepa (Telugu), Bevu in Kannada, Veppam in (Tamil),arya veppu in malayalam and Indian-lilac. In East Africa it is also known as Mwarobaini (Kiswahili), which means the tree of the 40; it's said to treat 40 different diseases.

Neem is a fast-growing tree that can reach a height of 15-20 m, rarely to 35-40 m. It is evergreen but under severe drought it may shed most or nearly all of its leaves. The branches are wide spread. The fairly dense crown is roundish or oval and may reach the diameter of 15-20 m in old, free-standing specimens.

In India, the tree is variously known as "Divine Tree", "Heal All", "Nature's Drugstore", "Village Pharmacy" and "Panacea for all diseases".

Neem oil is used for preparing cosmetics.

© More in the WIKIPEDIA !


Sailaja writes:

Our Andhra festival is known by different names in different states of India like “Gudi Padwa” in Maharastra and “Ugadi” in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Whatever the name this festival takes in different regions, it heralds the dawn of Vasanth Rutu (Spring Season), which is considered the first season of the year (Chaitra Maasam).
Ugadi to the Telugu speaking people marks a beginning of a new year in which nature is in full bloom, symbolizing regeneration and celebrating the season’s freshness.

Ugadi Pachadi
is a special preparation prepared in every Andhra home on Telugu New Year’s day. Its made with fresh tamarind, jaggery (panela), fresh mangoes and neem flowers (margosa). One can add sugarcane, coconut and bananas also. The sweetness of jaggery, the sourness of tamarind, the bitterness of neemflower and the pungent flavor of the green mango skin, spice of the chilli powder, raw tender mango’s taste and lastly salt form the shadhruchulu or six tastes of the sauce.

© PHOTO and TEXT: www.sailusfood.com

Check this LINK for many more seasonal Indian dishes!

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Azadirachta indica
(नीम Neem (Hindi),(نیم Neem (Urdu), Nim (Bengali), ಬೇವು Bevu (Kannada), வேம்பு Vembu (Tamil) ) is a tree in the mahogany family Meliaceae. It is one of two species in the genus Azadirachta, and is native to India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh growing in tropical and semi-tropical regions. Neem trees also grow in islands in the southern part of Iran where it is called "Cherish" چریش" in Persian. Its fruits and seeds are the source of neem oil.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

a dove silently
perched on a margosa branch -
my morning prayer

- Shared by Rosie Mann -
Joys of Japan, 2012



Father gently uses
a neem shoot

Kala Ramesh, India


the neem tree
scattering its blossoms . . .

- Shared by Sandip Chauhan -
Haiku Culture Magazine, 2013

Related words

***** Ugadi Pachadi
kigo for spring

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Food from India used as KIGO




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