Neem is native to east India and Burma, it grows in much of Southeast Asia and West Africa. The neem tree (Azadirachta indica) is a fast growing (up to twenty feet in three years) tropical evergreen related to mahogany. Outdoors, in locations where temperatures don't drop much below freezing, it may reach up to 50 feet tall. It will grow where rainfall is as little as 18 inches per year and thrives in areas that experience extreme heat of up to 120 degrees F. They are reported to live for up to 200 years.
The tree is often covered in delicate flowers in the early summer. It has a semi-sweet, olive-sized fruit. The seed inside is rich in oil with tremendous medicinal and botanical properties. The oil is easily obtained by pressing the kernels in a juicer. It generally begins bearing fruit at three to five years, and can produce up to 110 lbs. of fruit annually when mature.
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Neem is a tropical tree; it must be protected from hard freezes. In northern climates it may be grown in pots with the care and appearance of the more-common ficus tree. Neem makes an ideal indoor plant because it grows well with a minimum of maintenance. For optimum growth, Neem should be placed near a sunny window during the winter and moved outside during summer months. However, they will survive indoors even if they don't receive any natural light at all. Its blooms are small, white flowers with a very sweet, jasmine-like scent. They are relatively heavy feeders, responding to organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion, bone meal and kelp with lush new growth.
Few pests attack the Neem tree and most problems with Neem are directly related to over watering. Several different types of fungal diseases can cause die-back, and slugs that thrive in soggy spaces will eat the bottom leaves of small trees.
Neem leaf, when taken internally, acts as a blood purifier and tonic, supports healthy skin, immune system response, healthy bowel function, and aids in the maintenance of glucose stability. Neem has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic treatments, applications which have been validated in more than 100 studies in universities and research centers around the world.