The neem tree (Azadirachta indica), also known as Indian lilac and Margosa tree, is called “a cure of all ailments,” or Sarva Roga Nirvani, in Sanskrit. Western research followed the discovery in 1959 that neem trees resisted attack by locust.
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Neem trees are fast-growing and reach heights of 15 to 20 meters. Their bark is dark gray with lighter-colored crevices, and trees have 20- to 40-centimeter evergreen leaves. Neem trees produce clusters of small, cream-colored flowers and an olive-like yellow fruit.
The bush forest of Myanmar (Burma) is the original habitat of neem trees, although they can grow in most dry, subtropical and tropical climates. Neem trees also grow wild in the Siwalik hills, Carnate and Deccan regions of India, and they are cultivated throughout the country, as well as in the Sudan and Australia.
Wood from neem trees is used to make tools and furniture, and oils extracted from the tree and its crushed seeds are used for cosmetic, medical and pesticidal purposes. Preliminary studies show that neem may help manage gingivitis, tooth decay, peptic ulcer and vaginitis, and neem botanical pesticides control fungal mildew diseases, aphids, mites and caterpillars.