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. They are highly aromatic. 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 Koenig.
The small and narrow leaves somewhat resemble the leaves of the Neem tree; therefore they are also referred to as Karuveppilai (translated to Black Neem leaf) in Tamil and Malayalam, Karu/Kari meaning black, ilai meaning leaves and veppilai meaning Neem leaf. In the Kannada language it is known as Kari BEvu and Karivepaku in Telugu, again translating to the same meaning Black Neem leaf.
Other names include Kari Patta (Hindi), which probably is a corrupt translation of Karuveppilai, noroxingha (Assamese), Bhursunga Patra (Oriya), Kadhi Patta (Marathi), Mithho Limdo (Gujarati) and Karapincha (Sinhalese).