One of the hardiest trees but not very well-known in the western world is the neem tree. Native to the Indian Subcontinent it can also be found in Africa, the Caribbean and parts of South and Central America today. Neem (Azadirachta indica) also goes by the names nim and margosa.
This wood is related to mahogany and almost all parts of the neem tree are used for medicinal and herbal applications.
Neem wood is strong and durable with interlocking wood grains. It cannot be sanded to a high polish like some other types of wood, but you will find it easy to work with or carve.
The neem tree and its wood are an intriguing subject, and not a very familiar one in the United States. However, in recent years, with more information becoming available, neem is fast gaining popularity.
Neem Wood FAQs
You may have some questions about neem, so to familiarize you with this unique tree and its wood, we proudly present neem wood FAQs.
- Is neem related to any commonly-known woods?
- What are the uses of the neem tree?
- Is neem wood sustainable?
- Is neem wood food-safe?
- Can we use neem wood for making furniture?
- What are the other uses of neem wood?
- Is neem wood available in the USA?
- Is it easy to grow neem trees?
- What is the color of neem wood?
- What is the lifespan of a neem tree?
- Can neem trees grow in the United States?
- Is neem wood resistant to pests?
- Is neem wood easy to work with?
- How can I plant a neem tree?
Neem is related to the mahogany family and shares many common characteristics of mahogany.
What are the uses of the neem tree?
Other than its timber, almost every part of the neem tree is useful. Here are some of them:
The seed of the neem fruit produces a bitter, pungent-tasting oil that is effective as an organic pesticide that is harmful to insects but not to humans.
People in remote rural India used neem twigs since ancient times as crude toothbrushes.
The leaves of the neem tree are believed to have a cooling effect on the body. Leafy neem leaf branches are brushed over children suffering from measles. Neem leaves also have a pesticide effect, and people add them to stored rice to prevent insects. Neem leaves are also believed to control diabetes.
Other Neem Extract Uses
Neem extract also plays a vital role in the production of herbal cosmetics, shampoos, soaps, face creams and toothpaste.
Is neem wood sustainable?
Neem trees take five to seven years to grow to full maturity. It is a relatively short period compared to other trees that take practically decades for them to yield timber. It is a hardy tree that grows easily in sandy, rocky and semi-arid areas with very little water. This makes neem wood highly sustainable.
Is neem wood food-safe?
Neem wood contains antibacterial oils. Due to this reason, it is safe to make cookware like cutting boards, wooden spoons and bowls out of neem wood.
Can we use neem wood for making furniture?
Neem wood has a convoluted, rough but extremely tight wood grain. It makes the wood very dense and hard. The wood does not polish that well, so furniture made of neem wood will be strong but will look rustic rather than the fine appearance of teak, walnut or cherry wood furniture.
What are the other uses of neem wood?
Neem wood is an extremely heavy and dense wood which makes it suitable for making wheels, oars and heavy structural components in construction. It also makes very good carved sculptures.
Is neem wood available in the USA?
You can buy neem wood from select outlets in the United States today. If you take a quick look on the internet, you can find sellers dealing in neem wood. You can also get neem woodworking items like combs, sculptures and ornaments on the internet. For some ideas of what’s available check out these neem wood products on Amazon.
Is it easy to grow neem trees?
Neem trees grow easily from the seed and sometimes from cuttings. Neem needs very little water and can grow on rough, sandy and rocky terrain. It also has a high tolerance to temperature and can survive in temperatures well above 100°F. However, overwatering neem plants or trees can quickly destroy them.
What is the color of neem wood?
Neem wood has a reddish-brown color. The attractive color combined with the slight fragrance that neem wood emits makes it suitable for use in making wooden panels for interiors.
What is the lifespan of a neem tree?
Neem trees are believed to live up to 150 or 200 years.
Can neem trees grow in the United States?
Neem trees need a warm tropical or semi-tropical climate to grow. These trees can grow in the warmest areas of Texas, Arizona, California and Florida. They need to grow in well-drained soil which can be moist but not wet. A farm in Bradenton, Florida claims that wherever you can grow ficus outdoors, a neem tree can grow.
Is neem wood resistant to pests?
Although neem can deteriorate the same way that other woods do while exposed to the elements, pests will not attack them. The neem tree produces a natural insecticidal substance called azadirachtin. It harms insect larvae and kills them naturally. The azadirachtin content in neem wood gives it a lifelong resistance to pests.
Is neem wood easy to work with?
Neem is a strong and durable wood but it is easy to cut, plane and drive nails and screws into. Despite the tight, twisted grain of neem wood, you will find it easy to use hand tools on it. You will also find neem wood an easy wood to carve, which makes it suitable for making a variety of carved and turned wooden toys, artifacts and ornaments.
How can I plant a neem tree?
If you live in a part of the United States that has a hot and dry climate, you can grow neem trees. Neem trees grow best from the seeds. Ensure that the neem seeds that you use are not too old. Sow two or three seeds together about one centimeter deep directly into the ground allowing sufficient moisture in the soil but avoid waterlogging.
The saplings will be ready for transplanting in their final location after three months. While handling the saplings, take care not to damage the roots as that could affect the later growth of the trees.
The neem tree is special in more ways than one. In countries like India and Sri Lanka, neem trees also have a sacred significance. Not only the wood, but all parts of the tree offer medicinal, cosmetic, and pesticide benefits. If you have access to neem wood, do not miss an opportunity to experiment with this interesting type of wood. You never know what you might come up with!
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