Monday, January 12, 2015

Tree of Humility - Neem

 
Mr. Squirrel sun bathing on his Neem Patio
Azadirachta indica, also known as Neem, is a tree in the mahogany family. It is native to South Asia and also grows in islands in the southern part of Iran. Its fruits and seeds are the source of Neem oil. It is a fast growing tree that can reach heights of up to 20 meters easily.

If a tree is to be regarded as the symbol of humility, it has to be the Neem Tree. It grows without any care in arid areas. Birds and squirrels love its fruit and to build homes amongst its branches. At the same time it repels insects, bacteria, viruses and other microbes. Mosquitoes like to move away from areas where it grows. And planted as some of the trees of an orchard it will discourage infestations that sometimes attack orchards lacking biodiversity ( see here for bio-diverse orchards). Presently the olive groves of Europe are under such an attack.

Neem leaves are dried and placed within clothes and in rice bins to keep away infestation. Its tender sticks are chewed to make one end as a tooth brush. Those who have used this for brushing in young age keep healthy teeth until old age. A mouthwash made from a tea made by boiling its leaves is an effective treatment for toothaches. Its new tender leaves are edible but tend to be bitter although said to be good for health.

Unlike many other large trees of its size, when a Neem tree comes up near a building its roots stay away from the foundations and do not damage them. Occasionally a Neem tree has to be cut because of constructions needs. Its wood has an excellent cream and pink grain. I have made the dining table in my home from the wood of a Neem tree. However, Neem should not be used for external woodwork since it tends to rot when exposed to rain.

The Neem tree along with the Oak, the Holy Fig and Banyan trees have been regarded as some of the finest of trees to sit under for spiritual reflection and meditation. The neem tree and its extracts are a natural insecticide to protect plants. it also has numerous health benefits for humans and has been used as a cure for conditions like leprosy. Read more on this tree here as a sleep aid and cure for insomnia:
http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2015/07/neem-tree-as-magical-sleep-aid.html
The image used and modified here was released in the public domain by its creator (here)

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