Murraya koenigii. The curry leaf tree is a fast-growing evergreen shrub in lucky U.S. households. People who grew up in Sri Lanka and South India have fond memories of climbing the fragrant branches of this tree, where it is endemic.
Famous for its pinnately compound leaves that are used as the base for traditional curry dishes, the curry leaf tree is also used to lower blood sugar and promote digestive and skin health in South Asian traditional medicine. Only fresh leaves are capable of flavoring the regional cuisines because even fresh frozen leaves lose their pungency. So grow a curry leaf tree on your kitchen windowsill and snip off a few leaves whenever you’re inspired to create your own Meen Kuzhambu.
The curry leaf tree is relatively easy to grow as a patio tree during the summer and an indoor pot plant during the winter. Full sun in the north, dappled shade in the desert. Keep on the dry side during the winter but provide adequate humidity if your indoor air is dry. The curry leaf tree may lose some leaves during the winter, but will sprout new growth in the spring. In late spring the curry leaf tree will bear panicles of white fragrant flowers followed by purple black berries that are easy to germinate when fresh. However, they are also poisonous so be cautious in growing this tree around small children and curious animals.
Can take a few degrees of frost when established, but protect young trees from temperatures below 32 degrees F. Keep soil moist and well-fertilized at first sign of spring growth. To 4' x 3' indoors, larger in the ground in zones 9-10.
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