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Neem tree

Neem a deep rooted, medium-sized, usually evergreen tree, Azadirachta indica of the family Meliaceae. Normally it attains a height of 15-20 m with a diameter of 60- 80 cm. Generally it branches early, forming a large, fairly dense and rounded crown of bright green foliage with compound glabrous leaves. Though it is usually evergreen, yet it becomes deciduous in drier regions. Flowers are small, sweet and scented. Fruits are small and one seeded. Bark is moderately thick, furrowed, dark grey outside and reddish brown inside. The heartwood is red, hard and durable.

Neem is an indigenous tree species of Bangladesh and is found in abundance in the Barind Tracts of the country. It is planted all over the country, more especially in the drier part. It is also the native species of dry forest areas of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Myanmar.

Neem is considered as one of the most valuable multi-purpose plant species. The wood is durable and used for house building, furniture and many other purpose eg carts, axles, yokes, helms, oars, boxes, agricultural tools, drums etc.

The bark, gum, leaves and flowers are all used in herbal medicine. Scientific interest in Neem is based on its traditional uses for insect pest control. [Md Mahfuzur Rahman]

See also biocide; herbal medicine.