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Moringaceae, Moringa oleifera, horshraddish tree, drumstick tree

March 4, 2008

Yielding protein, oil, and carbohydrates, and with a load of vitamins and minerals, Moringa is possibly the planet’s most underdeveloped tree. A sort of food market on a stalk, it yields at least four different edibles: pods, leaves, seeds, roots. Beyond edibles, it provides products that make village life more self-sufficient in rural communities: lubricating oil, lamp oil, wood, paper, liquid fuel, skin treatments, the means to purify water, and more. The green pods, which look like giant green beans but taste something like asparagus, are notably nutritious. Foliage is an important food product as well. People in various countries around the world boil up the tiny leaflets and eat them like spinach. In general this supreme plant shows a capacity to help solve problems such as hunger, malnutrition, rural poverty, disease, deforestation, and visual blight. Although the experiences come almost exclusively from India, the genus Moringa is inherently African, so it has ancestral roots in sub-Saharan soils.

Read more in this informative PDF

10 Comments leave one →
  1. November 4, 2009 10:08:04 am

    ECHO has seeds of this if anyone is interested. Came up well for us.

  2. July 12, 2012 10:08:39 am

    Now you are just showing off!

  3. Ahong permalink
    August 16, 2012 10:08:45 pm

    In Viet Nam, people use Moringa leaves to make stir-fried. It is DELICIOUS

  4. January 5, 2014 10:08:12 pm

    when traveling in ecuador about three years ago, i spotted one of these growing in a flower border. i liked its yellow flowers and collected some seeds. three plants survived, and i planted them in three locations. one grew sky high with few branches; one stayed stunted, and the other was a classic shape. each year the free-range goats find their way into the garden and strip the pretty one back to a foot high! sigh.

    thanks for this great post that confirms it is moringa that’s growing in my gardens!

    • January 5, 2014 10:08:51 pm

      Thank you for the comments. This is a great tree. Very tough and a fantastic forage for livestock and humans alike. You can fairly easily propagate the plant from woody cuttings and seed, and as you have probably observed, the tree can be severely coppiced or stripped of all its leaves and it will just sprout right back again. In some areas the seeds are sewn in garden beds and grown as an annual for the thick succulent root, similar to radish.

      • January 5, 2014 10:08:14 pm

        the root’s edible as well? wow, that final remark brought a big grin to my face! fun! i look forward to getting more via cuttings when the rainy season kicks off here.. it’s past due.

        i also liked your 2012 post about deforestation and reduced rainfall. although anyone who pays attention to subtle clues from mother nature, it’s obvious, but wow; lately i’ve been distressed with the clear-cutting for agriculture that’s happening in the province where i live. an ecuadorian teased me and asked if i’d like to talk to our president, and i said a big YES, i’d like to drive him around and point out what’s happening that he’s probably not aware of!


        • January 6, 2014 10:08:32 am

          Yeah, another name for the Moringa tree is Horseradish Tree as the root can be used as a horseradish substitute. Yet another name for the tree is Ben tree, apparently an oil used in lubricating watch gears is extracted from the seed (thus the reference to Ben as in the Big Ben Clock). The list of uses goes on and on. One especially intriguing one is the use of the macerated seeds in treating un-potable water.

          As an experiment I germinated some Moringa seeds in Greece and they grew very well. They absolutely loved the hot dry summers and grew to over 7 ft in one season. They died back a bit in the winter but sprouted again when it warmed up.



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