Neem Tree, scientific name Azadirachta indica, is a famous medicinal plant which is grown in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Neem Tree is a native to the Indian subcontinent, mainly found in countries including India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri-Lanka.
For its substantial medicinal uses, the divine Neem tree has been extensively used by mankind since decades. The name Azadirachta indica is derived from a Persian word meaning,
Azad = Free
dirakht = Tree.
This Mahogany family (Meliaceae) plant is also used for its pesticidal quality and its timber. Neem has been introduced in countries of south and central America due to its multiple uses.
In this lesson, we will study about the Root System of Neem Tree in detail and will also learn about some medicinal uses of Neem.
Neem is a rapid flourishing Tree which grows up to an average height of 15-20 m and can sometimes reach up to 40 m if the favourable environmental conditions are provided.
The oval crown of the Neem tree is evergreen, that is, remains lush green in all four seasons. But if there is a prolonged drought in the area it may result in the shedding off of its leaves.
Flowers of the Neem tree are Bisexual or also called a perfect flower, that is both male (Androecium) and female (Gynoecium) reproductive structures are present in a single flower and it produces purple or yellow coloured elongated fruit drupes which have multiple seeds inside. Fruits of Neem are somewhat similar to Mango fruit but smaller in size.
Along with the leaves, fruits of Neem Tree also holds great value and are consumable but mostly their seeds are used for medicinal purpose. Neem Tree is actively used in Ayurveda. Its Leaves are pinnate and 20-30 m long having dark green leaflets.
Neem tree is a fast grower and grows in the area where rainfall is only 18 inches per year. Neem has a productivity lifespan of 120 to 200 years.
Root System of Neem Tree
Neem tree roots consist of a strong Taproot System. Taproot arises from the Radicle of the germinating embryo. Morphologically it consists of one main root, also known as Primary root, arising from the base from which further root branches arises laterally or horizontally, known as Secondary and Tertiary roots. the branches of the main root, unlike other trees, are very thick and strong.
The main root of the Neem tree root system is highly rigid and grows directly downwards into the soil. This Primary root can grow twice as long as the height of its tree and absorbs good amount of water and minerals from the soil which makes the tree evergreen even in unfavourable conditions and therefore it is low maintenance.
The roots of the Neem tree increases the water holding capacity of the soil in which it is grown to a great extent and also prevents soil erosion during floods.
The root system of the Neem tree is highly extensive and therefore requires a large surface to thrive. As discussed earlier, the main root of Neem tree can grow twice as long as the height of the tree, therefore it can be harmful to the structures in proximity (buildings) to the tree as the strong roots can cause damage to them.
Hence it is important to keep a substantial distance between the tree and the buildings (at minimum 10 feet clear distance from any surface). Building underground concrete walls as barriers can also prevent the sprawling roots from reaching the nearby buildings. Also, it is not advisable to grow the Neem Tree in narrow spaces, for example, backyards.
Place of tree saplings also play a very crucial role in the healthy proliferation of the Neem tree roots and hence the tree. It is feasible to plant the tree saplings deep enough so that the roots are present far down from the soil surface and are not restricted or ceased from growing to their full potential.
Medicinal Uses of Neem Tree
Neem tree has proven to have miraculous powers to the people using its products to cure their diseases from ages and now even the doctors from all around the world are accepting this fact. In the world of chemicals, this natural cure is a boon to mankind.
- Scientists have studied that A. indica prevents the tumour necrosis factor (TNF) induced biological responses in our body.
- Neem is used in almost all the skin and hair related beauty products. Neem is known to cure skin problems such as acne, psoriasis, athlete’s foot, eczema, ringworm and warts, and dandruff related issues for hair. Therefore it is used in skin creams and shampoos. The skin diseases can also be cured by using high-quality Neem oil.
- Neem oil extracted from its seed can be used directly as insecticides and fungicides. The leaves of Neems are traditionally used in Indian households in cupboards to keep the cloth eating moths away from their cloths.
- The juice extract from the Neem leaves is known to have antioxidant qualities and also helps in purifying the blood.
- Neem has anticarcinogenic activities as studied by scientists. It is known to induce the process of Apoptosis and hence leading to a decrease in tumour growth.
- Neem can kill external as well as internal body parasites.
Interesting Facts about Neem
- Neem tree is being used as a medicinal plant by the natives of the Indian subcontinent for more than 4500 years.
- The first recorded evidence in favour of usage of this tree is during the Harapan civilisation. Several Neem leaves were collected from the excavation sites at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro in Northwestern and Western India.