It is a small tree, growing 4-6 m tall, with a trunk up to 40 cm diameter. The leaves are pinnate, with 11-21 leaflets, each leaflet 2-4 cm long and 1-2 cm broad. The flowers are small white, and fragrant. The small black, shiny berries are edible, but their seeds are poisonous.
The species name commemorates the botanist Johann Gerhard Koenig.
Its leaves are highly aromatic and are used as a herb. Their form is small and narrow and they somewhat resemble the leaves of the Neem tree; therefore they are also referred to as Kari Baavu (translated to Black Neem) in the Kannada language and Karivepaku in Telugu, again translating to the same meaning. In Tamil and Malayalam it is known as Karuveppilai, ilai meaning leaves and veppilai meaning Neem leaf. Other names include Kari Patta (Hindi), Bhursunga Patra (Oriya), Kadhi Limb (Marathi), Limda(Gujarati) and Karapincha (Sinhalese).
They are commonly used as seasoning in Indian and Sri Lankan cooking, much like bay leaves and especially in curries with fish or coconut milk. In their fresh form, they have a short shelf life though they may be stored in a freezer for quite some time. They are also available dried, though the aroma is inferior.
- "Murraya koenigii information from NPGS/GRIN". www.ars-grin.gov. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
- P.Arulselvan and S.Subramanian "antidiabetic", page 874, Volume 61, Pharmazie, 2006
- P.Arulselvan and S.Subramanian "antioxidant" page 155, Volume 165, Chemico-Biological Interactions, 2007
- Gernot Katzer's Herb Pages on curry leaves
- Plant Cultures: botany, history and uses of curry leaf plant