curry-leaf tree

Bergera koenigii
habit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
habit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
finely fissured bark covered in small whitish dots (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
close-up of bark on main trunk of old tree (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
once-compound leaves with several leaflets (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
leaves and clusters of fruit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
immature fruit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
close-up of immature and mature fruit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
seedlings and young plants (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
Tree
Alternate
Compound
White
Green

A large shrub or small tree growing up to 6 m in height. Its main trunk is brownish to almost black in colour and covered in small whitish dots. Its alternately arranged leaves (12-20 cm long) are once-compound and have 7-31 leaflets with entire or finely toothed margins. These leaves give off a strong curry-like scent when they are crushed. Its small white flowers (10-12 mm across) have five petals and are arranged in large clusters at the tips of the branches. Its rounded or egg-shaped berries (10-16 mm long) turn blackish as they mature and contain one or two green seeds.

Common names 
Also known as: curry-leaf tree, curry bush, curry leaf, curryleaf tree,
Family 
Rutaceae
Deciduous 
No
Flowering time 
Spring - Summer
Native/Exotic 
Exotic
Origin 
Native to the Indian sub-continent, south-eastern Asia and southern China.
Notifiable 
No
Council declaration 
SIL – Special Investigation List
Known distribution 

Occasionally naturalised in the Moreton district in south-eastern Queensland. Also naturalised in northern Queensland, near Darwin in the north-western parts of the Northern Territory, and on Christmas Island.

Habitat 

A potential weed of riparian vegetation, forest margins, disturbed rainforests, urban bushland, waste areas and gardens.

Habit 

A large shrub or small tree usually growing 2.5-4 m tall, but occasionally reaching up to 6 m in height.

Impact and control methods 
Stem and leaves 

The main trunk is brownish to almost black in colour and is covered in small whitish dots. The younger branches are green in colour and shortly hairy (i.e. pubescent), but they quickly become hairless with age (i.e. they are glabrescent). The alternately arranged leaves (12-20 cm long) are once-compound (i.e. pinnate) and borne on stalks (i.e. petioles) about 5 mm long. These leaves have 7-31 leaflets, with a single leaflet at the tip (i.e. they are imparipinnate). The leaflets (1.5-5.5 cm long and 0.5-2.8 cm wide) are egg-shaped in outline (i.e. ovate) or slightly elongated in shape (i.e. ovate-lanceolate). They have entire or finely toothed (i.e. serrulate or crenulate) margins with pointed, rounded or slightly notched tips (i.e. acute, obtuse or retuse apices). These leaves have somewhat hairy (i.e. pubescent) undersides and give off a strong curry-like scent when they are crushed.

Flowers and fruits 

The small white flowers (about 10-12 mm across) are arranged in large clusters at the tips of the branches (i.e. in terminal panicles, corymbs or cymes), with each cluster containing 60-90 flowers. These flowers are borne on short stalks (i.e. pedicels) and have five tiny green sepals less than 1 mm long. Their five white petals (5-8 mm long) are elongated in shape (i.e. linear-oblong or lanceolate). The flowers also have ten yellow stamens (4-6 mm long) and an ovary topped with a short style (about 4 mm long) and rounded (i.e. capitate) stigma. Flowering usually occurs during spring and early summer (i.e. from October to December). The fruit is a rounded (i.e. sub-globose) or egg-shaped (i.e. ovoid) berry that turns from green to black or bluish-black in colour as it matures. These fruit (10-16 mm long and 10-12 mm wide) are shiny in appearance and contain one or two green seeds (up to 11 mm long and 8 mm wide). The fruit are usually present during summer (i.e. from December to February).

Reproduction and dispersal 

This species reproduces by seed, which are mostly spread into nearby bushland by birds and other animals that eat the fruit.

Similar species 

Curry-leaf tree (Bergera koenigii) is easily distinguished from other species by the fact that its leaves give off a strong curry-like scent when they are crushed.