Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Murraya koenigii (L.) Sprengel, Syst. Veg. 2: 315. 1825; Hook. f., Fl. Brit. India 1: 503. 1875. Bergera koenigii L., Mant. Pl. Alt. 563. 1771 . Chalcas koenigii (L.) Kurz in J. Asiat. Soc. Bengal, Pt. 2, Nat. Hist. 44: 132. 1875.

Asm.: Bishahari, Narasingha; Beng.: Barsanga, Kariaphulli; Guj.: Goranimb, Kurry-patha; Kan.: Kari-bevu; Mal.: Kurri veppilla; Mar.: Karhinimb, Poospala, Gandla; Or.: Barsem, Bhursango; Sans.: Surabhininiba; Tam.: Kari vemp, Karuveppilai; Tel.: Kari-pakku.

Large shrubs or small trees, up to 6 m high; branchlets rather cylindric, puberulous or glabrous; bark green or greyish. Leaves up to 50 cm long; petioles and rachises densely white-puberulent; leaflets alternate, conspicuously asymmetric, 15 - 27, dark green above, paler beneath, foetid-scented, thin membranous to chartaceous, glabrous except the puberulent midrib, ovate to lanceolate from an acute and very oblique base, shortly acuminate or tapering at apex, the tip notched, glandular-crenulate along margins, 2 - 8 x 1 - 3 cm (basal leaflets smaller); secondary nerves 4 - 10 pairs, less prominent above, rather raised beneath, slightly oblique, tertiaries reticulate, reticulae prominent beneath. Inflorescence terminal, corymbose paniculate, up to 7 x 8 cm. Flowers many, up to 60, in dense cymes, cylindric in buds, scented; pedicels slender, short (ca 4 mm long), puberulent. Calyx saucer shaped; sepals 5, fused at base (1/3 of its entire length), caducous, small, less than 1 mm long, deltate, puberulent abaxially, glandular. Petals 5, valvate, linear, obtuse, 6 - 8 x 1 - 1.5 mm, greenish-white, glandular, glabrous. Stamens 10; filaments subulate, 5 - 7 mm long, glabrous; anthers dorsifixed, ellipsoid, short, less than 1 mm long, pale greenish. Disk annular, slightly conical, ca 0.5 mm high, ca 2 mm broad, greenish, obscurely 5-lobed. Ovary oblong-ovoid, slightly narrowed towards apex, ca 1 mm long, greenish, 2-locular, each locule with 1 or 2 ovules; style slender below, dialated below the stigma, ca 2.5 mm long, pale green; stigma capitate, glandular. Berries subglobose, ca 9 x 10 mm, purplish to black when ripe, 2-locular, the pulp whitish, mucilaginous; seeds l or 2, ovoid-oblong, green; cotyledons glandular.

Fl. March-April; Fr. May-July.

Distrib. India: Mostly in moist deciduous forests in the subtropical N.W. Himalayas, N. E. peninsular India. Also in cultivation. Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, W. Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka and S. China.

Notes. Fresh leaves of this plant are used as an ingredient in curries and chutneys. They also yield a highly odoriferous esssential oil which is used as a fixative for soap perfume. Leaves, stem, bark and roots are tonic, stomachic and carminative. Infusion of leaves is applied against vomiting, diarrhoea and dysentery. Berries are edible. Wood is used for making agricultural implements.

M. koenigii is frequently cultivated in homestead gardens of southern India for its aromatic leaves. It has been observed that the plants in cultivation are different from those found in the wild in having a tree habit; smaller leaves with very small, membranous and highly odoriferous leaflets, and petiole which often has a reddish tinge almost up to the point from which the first (basal) leaflets arise. In the wild forms the leaves are larger, sometimes reaching up to 50 cm long, and have more number of leaflets which are coriaceous and less aromatic. The cultivated plants widespread in home gardens in southern India could probably be a traditional 'land race' of this species.

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