Description: Azadirachta indica is native to India and Pakistan growing in tropical and semi-tropical regions. It is medium to large sized tree with rounded crown of bright green dense foliage. Leaves are imparipinnate, crowded towards the end of branches.
The wood peels well and is found useful for making shuttering grade plywood. Tree is grown for fuel wood purposes in India and Africa.
Seeds yield a oil having strong disagreeable garlic like odour and known as “margosa “ oil, heals bleeding gums and cures pyrrohoea when it is used in mouth was and toothpaste. The same compound is also found effective in various skin diseases, burns and scabies. Neem seed cake, a residue after extraction of the oil is valued as a fertilizer and repellent for insects. It contains more sulphur than any other cake.
Neem has emerged as an ideal source of pesticides and insecticides. About 350 species of insect pests, 18 species of nematodes and equal number of fungi have already been found to be susceptible to “neem effect”. A real breakthrough was made by Pradhan who first reported the extraordinary antifeedant properties of neem seed kernel against desert locust Schistocera gregaria. Later Ketkar, Mitra and Prasad have highlighted the pesticide potential of neem seed extracts due to “azadirachtin”, a biologically active compound. Neem . Neem extracts have been found to influence the insect activity and behavioural ecology such as feeding deterrent, growth disruptor, repellent, ovipositional deterrent and as insecticide. These extracts are also reported to influence or impair egg production and hatchability in insects.
Neem is also regarded as a good fodder tree and heavily lopped for goats and sometimes for cattle also, the cattle relish only in the absence of other fodders.