“All Things Moringa”
The Story of an Amazing Tree of Life Contents Introduction Vitamin Mineral Content of Moringa Amino Acid Content of Moringa The Moringa.
Here’s a sample of the 1st 6 of 42 pages
“All Things Moringa”
The Story of an Amazing Tree of Life Contents Introduction Vitamin Mineral Content of Moringa Amino Acid Content of Moringa The Moringa.
Here’s a sample of the 1st 6 of 42 pages
Jars, Vases & Bowls
This is especially significant, since the expensive oils which some of them held were usually among the first items to be stolen because they did not keep long. Some of the dockets attached to the jars indicated that they had contained b3k-oil, a very expensive commodity made from moringa nuts. The calcite vase seen on the far right below in this plate still contained about three quarts of rancid oil when it was discovered.
The oil from the Moringa Oleifera nut was used by the ancient Egyptians. This extremely fast growing woody species (Moringa oleifera, Moringaceae) could open up a new category of crops: “vegetable trees.” It also produces masses of very small leaflets that are boiled and eaten like spinach. Being so small, the leaflets sun dry in just a few hours and can then be put in a jar and stored for the off-season, a time when dietary minerals and vitamins are often scarce. Moringa seeds could be employed to make water safer for drinking and cooking.
Maiherpri – King Moringa
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|Maiherpri ( Lion of the Battlefield )
Papyrus of Maiherpri
Maiherperi was an Ancient Egyptian noble of Nubian origin buried in the Valley of the Kings, in tomb KV36. He probably lived during the rule of Thutmose IV, and received the honour of a burial in the Valley of the Kings, the royal necropolis. His name can be translated as Lion of the Battlefield,. Amongst his titles were Child of the Nursery and Royal Fan-Bearer of the Right Hand Side. There is speculation that the first title signified that he grew up in the royal nursery as a prince of a vassal territory, or perhaps was the son of a lesser wife or concubine of the pharaoh. He was among the first during the New Kingdom to hold the second title, and was literally true in that he was by the pharaoh’s side, likely as an advisor or bodyguard. This same title was also used to denote the Viceroys of Kush later in the New Kingdom.
Tomb of Maiherpri
In Maiherperi’s tomb, a papyrus was found depicting him with literally “blackish” skin, leading scholars to believe he was in fact Nubian or of Nubian descent. The papyrus in question was the Book of the Dead, in the eyes of O’Connor and Cline “[c]ertainly the most famous and arguably the most beautiful” Book of the Dead..
The mummy was unwrapped by Georges Daressy in March 1901, revealing a mummy whose dark skin matched that depicted on his copy of the Book of the Dead, and thought that this was likely Maiherperi’s natural colour, unchanged by the mummification process. He also had tightly curled, woolly hair, which turned out a wig that had been glued to his scalp.
What could be easier than walking into your yard, and gathering healthy leaves from your own grown Moringa plants to put on the table?
The Moringa plant is a fast-growing, drought resistant tree that can reach up to 3 meters in its first year.
The Moringa tree is very easy to grow. Simply plant seeds or cuttings in a sunny spot. The moringa tree is a plant that grows mainly in semiarid, subtropical areas.
Learn how to grow your own multivitamin and have a Moringa farmacy at your doorstep. Grow Many Moringa’s in a Square Meter
The Moringa tree is very easy to grow. Simply plant seeds or cuttings in a sunny spot.
Moringa is a fast-growing, drought resistant tree. The moringa tree is a plant that grows mainly in semiarid, subtropical areas. Moringa can grow in dry, sandy or poor soils.
Moringa oleifera is believed to be native to sub-Himalayan tracts of northern India but is now found worldwide in the tropics and sub-tropics. It grows best in direct sunlight under 500 meters altitude. It tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, but prefers a neutral to slightly acidic (pH. 6.3-7.0), well-drained sandy or loamy soil. Minimum annual rainfall requirements are estimated at 250mm with maximum at over 3,000mm, but in waterlogged soil the roots have a tendency to rot. (In areas with heavy rainfall, trees can be planted on small hills to encourage water run-off). Presence of a long taproot makes it resistant to periods of drought. Trees can be easily grown from seed or from cuttings. Temperature ranges are 25-35 degrees Celsius (0-95 degrees Fahrenheit), but the tree will tolerate up to 48 degrees in the shade and it can survive a light frost.
Moringa seeds have no dormancy period, so they can be planted as soon as they are mature and they will retain the ability to germinate for up to one year. Older seeds woll only have spotty germination. Moringa trees will flower and fruit annually and in some regions twice annually. During its first year, a Moringa tree will grow up to five meters in height and produce flowers and fruit. Left alone, the tree can eventually reach 12 meters in height with a trunk 30cm wide; however, the tree can be annually cut back to one meter from the ground. The tree will quickly recover and produce leaves and pods within easy reach. Within three years a tree will yield 400-600 pods annually and a mature tree can produce up to 1,600 pods. Copicing to the ground is also possible, and will produce a Moringa bush is no main new growth is selected, and the others eliminated.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation – IN THE NURSERY
Use poly bags with dimensions of about 18cm or 8″ in height and 12cm or 4-5″ in diameter. The soil mixture for the sacks should be light, i.e. 3 parts soil to 1 part sand. Plant two or three seeds in each sack, one to two centimeters deep. Keep moist but not too wet. Germination will occur within 5 to 12 days, depending on the age of the seed and pre-treatment method used. Remove extra seedlings, leaving one in each sack. Seedlings can be out-planted when they are 60-90cm high. When out-planting, cut a hole in the bottom of the sack big enough to allow the roots to emerge. Be sure to retain the soil around the roots of the seedling. To encourage rapid germination, one of three pre-seeding treatments can be employed:
1. Soak the seeds in water overnight before planting.
2. Crack the shells before planting.
3. Remove shells and plant kernels only.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation – IN THE FIELD
If planting a large plot it is recommended to first plough the land. Prior to planting a seed or seedling, dig a planting pit about 50cm in depth and the same in width. This planting hole serves to loosen the soil and helps to retain moisten in the root zone, enabling the seedlings’ roots to develop rapidly. Compost or manure at the rate of 5kg per pit can be mixed with the fresh topsoil around the pit and used to fill the pit. Avoid using the soil taken out of the pit for this purpose: fresh topsoil contains beneficial microbes that can promote more effective root growth. The day before out planting, water the filled pits or wait until a good rain before out-planting seedlings. Fill in the hole before transplanting the seedling. In areas of heavy rainfall, the soil can be shaped in the form of a mound to encourage drainage. Do not water heavily for the first few days. If the seedlings fall over, tie them to stick 40cm high for support.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation – DIRECT SEEDING
If water is available for irrigation (i.e., in a backyard garden), moringa trees can be seeded directly and grown anytime during the year. Prepare a planting pit first, water, and then fill in the pit with topsoil mixed with compost or manure before planting seeds. In a large field, trees can be seeded directly at the beginning of the wet season.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation – GROWING MORINGA FROM CUTTINGS
Use hard wood, not green wood, for cuttings. Cuttings should be 45cm to 1.5m long and 10cm thick. Cuttings can be planted directly or planted in sacks in the nursery. When planting directly, plant the cuttings in light, sandy soil. Plant one-third of the length in the ground (i.e., if the cutting is 1.5m long, plant it 50cm deep). Do not over water; if the soil is too heavy or wet, the roots may rot. When the cuttings are planted in the nursery, the root system isslow to develop. Add phosphorus to the soil if possible to encourage root development. Cuttings planted in a nursery can be out-planted after 2 or 3 months.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation – SPACING
For intensive Moringa production, plant the tree every 3 meters in rows 3 meters apart. To ensure sufficient sunlight and airflow, it is also recommendedto plant the trees in an east-west direction. When the trees are part of an alley-cropping system, there should be 10 meters between the rows. The area between trees should be kept free of weeds.
Trees are often spaced in a line one meter or less apart in order to create living fence posts. Trees are also planted to provide support for climbing crops such as pole beans, although only mature trees should be used for this purpose since the vine growth can choke off the young tree. Moringa trees can be planted in gardens; the tree’s root system does not compete with other crops for surface nutrients and the light shade provided by the tree will be beneficial to those vegetables which are less tolerant to direct sunlight. From the second year onwards, Moringa can be inter-cropped with maize, sunflower and other field crops. Sunflower is particularly recommended for helping to control weed growth. However, Moringa trees are reported to be highly competitive with eggplant (Solanum melongena) and sweet corn (Zea mays) and can reduce their yields by up to 50%.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation – PINCHING THE TERMINAL TIPS
When the seedlings reach a height of 60cm in the main field, pinch (trim) the terminal growing tip 10cm from the top. This can be done using fingers since the terminal growth is tender, devoid of bark fiber and brittle, and therefore easily broken. A shears or knife blade can also be used. Secondary branches will begin appearing on the main stem below the cut about a week later. When they reach a length of 20cm, cut these back to 10cm. Use a sharp blade and make a slanting cut. Tertiary branches will appear, and these are also to be pinched in the same manner. This pinching, done four times before the flowers appear (when the tree is about three months old), will encourage the tree to become bushy and produce many pods within easy reach. Pinching helps the tree develop a strong production frame for maximizing the yield. If the pinching is not done, the tree has a tendency to shoot up vertically and grow tall, like a mast, with sparse flowers and few fruits found only at the very top.
For annual Moringa types, directly following the end of the harvest, cut the tree’s main trunk to about 90cm from ground level. About two weeks later 15 to 20 sprouts will appear below the cut. Allow only 4-5 robust branches to grow and nib the remaining sprouts while they are young, before they grow long and harden. Continue the same pinching process as done with new seedlings so as to make the tree bushy. After the second crop, the trees can be removed and new seedlings planted for maximum productivity.
For perennial Moringa types, remove only the dead and worn out branches every year. Once in four or five years, cut the tree back to one meter from ground level and allow re-growth. Complete copicing is.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation – WATERING
Moringa trees do not need much watering, which make them ideally suited for the climate of places such as Southern California. In very dry conditions, water regularly for the first two months and afterwards only when the tree is obviously suffering. Moringa trees will flower and produce pods whenever there is sufficient water available.
If rainfall is continuous throughout the year, Moringa trees will have a nearly continuous yield. In arid conditions, flowering can be induced through irrigation.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation – FERTILIZING
Moringa trees will generally grow well without adding very much fertilizer. Manure or compost can be mixed with the soil used to fill the planting pits. Phosphorus can be added to encourage root development and nitrogen will encourage leaf canopy growth. In some parts of India, 15cm-deep ring trenches are dug about 10cm from the trees during the rainy season and filled with green leaves, manure and ash. These trenches are then covered with soil.
This approach is said to promote higher pod yields. Research done in India has also showed that applications of 7.5kg farmyard manure and 0.37kg ammonium sulfate per tree can increase pod yields threefold.
Biodynamic composts yield the best results, with yield increases of of to 50% compared to ordinary composts.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation – PESTS AND DISEASES
Moringa is resistant to most pests. In very water-logged conditions, Diplodia root rot can occur. In very wet conditions, seedlings can be planted in mounds so that excess water is drained off. Cattle, sheep, pigs and goats will eat Moringa seedlings, pods and leaves. Protect Moringa seedlings from livestock by installing a fence or by planting a living fence around the plantation. A living fence can be grown with Jatropha curcas, whose seeds also produce an oil good for soap-making. For mature trees, the lower branches can be cut off so that goats will not be able to reach the leaves and pods. Termites can be a problem, especially when cuttings are planted.
Among approaches recommended to protect seedlings from termite attack:
· Apply mulches of castor oil plant leaves, mahogany chips, tephrosia leaves or Persian lilac leaves around the base of the plants.
· Heap ashes around the base of seedlings.
· Dry and crush stems and leaves of lion’s ear or Mexican poppy and spread the dust around the base of plants.
In India, various caterpillars are reported to cause defoliation unless controlled by spraying. The budworm Noordia moringae and the scale insects Diaspidotus sp. and Ceroplastodes cajani are reportedly able to cause serious damage. Also mentioned as pests in India are Aphis craccibora, the borer Diaxenopsis apomecynoides and the fruit fly Gitonia sp. Elsewhere in the world, where Moringa is an introduced tree, local pests are less numerous.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation – HARVESTING
When harvesting pods for human consumption, harvest when the pods are still young (about 1cm in diameter) and snap easily. Older pods develop a tough exterior, but the white seeds and flesh remain edible until the ripening process begins.
When producing seed for planting or for oil extraction, allow the pods to dry and turn brown on the tree. In some cases, it may be necessary to prop up a branch that holds many pods to prevent it breaking off. Harvest the pods before they split open and seeds fall to the ground. Seeds can be stored in well-ventilated sacks in dry, shady places.
For making leaf sauces, harvest seedlings, growing tips or young leaves. Older leaves must be stripped from the tough and wiry stems. These older leaves are more suited to making dried leaf powder since the stems are removed in the pounding and sifting process.
Adapted from Lowell J. Fuglie and K. V. Sreeja by Dr F. Annenber
Moringa is one of the world’s most useful plants. This fast-growing tree is grown throughout the tropics for human food, livestock forage, medicine, dye, and water purification. It is known by several names in different countries, but is popularly called the “drumstick tree” for its pods that are used by drummers and the “horseradish tree” for the flavor of its roots.
Moringa is one of the world’s most nutritious crops. Ounce for ounce, the leaves of moringa have more beta-carotene than carrots, more protein than peas, more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk, more potassium than bananas, and more iron than spinach. Native to South Asia, this tree is becoming a vital source of nutrition in this region, where most of the world’s poor people live. The multiple uses of moringa have attracted the attention of researchers, development workers, and farmers.
The following suggested cultural practices were developed at AVRDC in the Taiwan lowlands. Growers may need to modify the practices to suit local soil, weather, pest, and disease conditions.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation – Climate and soil requirements
Moringa tolerates a wide range of environmental conditions. It grows best between 25 to 35oC, but will tolerate up to 48oC in the shade and can survive a light frost. The drought-tolerant tree grows well in areas receiving annual rainfall amounts that range from 250 to 1500 mm. Altitudes below 600 m are best for moringa, but this adaptable tree can grow in altitudes up to 1200 m in the tropics.
Moringa prefers a well-drained sandy loam or loam soil, but tolerates clay. It will not survive under prolonged flooding and poor drainage. Moringa tolerates a soil pH of 5.0–9.0.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation – Preparing the field
Moringa requires thorough land preparation and a well-prepared seedbed. At AVRDC, moringa is planted on 30-cm-high raised beds to facilitate drainage. Bed widths being tested at the Center vary from 60–200 cm.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation – Choosing a Moringa variety
Among moringa species, Moringa oleifera and Moringa stenopetala are most commonly grown. Moringa oleifera is most widely cultivated and the focus of this guide. Varieties within Moringa oleifera differ in growing habit, leaf, flower, and pod characteristics (Fig. 3). Numerous accessions are being evaluated at AVRDC for superior production and nutrition qualities. Currently we recommend growers to use locally adapted lines. Characteristics of superior types include wide and dark green leaves, long and tender pods, bushy habit, and rapid regeneration after trimming.
Moringa Planting methods
Moringa is planted either by direct seeding, transplanting, or using hard stem cuttings. Direct seeding is preferred when plenty of seed is available and labor is limited. Transplanting allows flexibility in field planting but requires extra labor and cost in raising seedlings. Stem cuttings are used when the availability of seed is limited but labor is plentiful.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation – Direct seeding
Sow two or three seeds per hill at a depth of 2 cm. Two weeks after germination, thin to the strongest seedling per hill.
For leaf, pod and seed production, space plants 3–5 m apart between rows and plants. If using raised beds, form beds with 2-m-wide tops, and space plants 3–5 m apart in a single row.
For production of leaves only, space plants 50 cm within rows spaced 1 m apart. If using raised beds, form beds with 60-cm-wide tops and space plants 1 m apart in a single row. For intensive production of leaves, space plants 10–20 cm within rows 30–50 cm apart.
Closer spacing allows harvest of young edible shoots every two to three weeks.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation – Transplanting
Transplanting moringa consists of two steps: seed- ling production and field planting. Seedlings can be grown in divided trays, individual pots, plastic bags, or seedbeds. Use of divided trays and individual containers is preferred because there is less damage to seedlings when they are transplanted.
A 50-cell tray with cells 3–4 cm wide and deep is suitable. Fill the tray with a potting mix that has good water-holding capacity and good drainage. Use peat moss, commercial potting soil, or a pot- ting mix prepared from soil, compost or rice hulls, and vermiculite or sand. AVRDC uses a mixture of 67% peat moss and 33% coarse vermiculite. If you use non-sterile components, sterilize the mix by autoclaving or baking at 150Grow seedlings under shade or in a screenhouse with 50% shade. Sow two or three seeds per cell. One week after germination, thin to the strongest seedling. Irrigate seedlings thoroughly every morning or as needed (moist, but not wet), using a fine mist sprinkler to avoid soil splash and plant damage. Transplant seedlings one month after sowing.
Pots or bags may be used to grow larger trans- plants. Fill the containers (0.5–1.0 kg by volume) with potting mix similar to that used in seedling trays. If potting mix is not available, use 3 parts soil to 1 part sand. Sow two or three seeds per pot or bag. One week after germination, thin to the strongest seedling. These plants are transplanted in the field after they reach 50 cm high.
If seedlings are started in a raised seedbed, the soil should be partially sterilized by burning a 3–5 cm layer of rice straw or other organic matter on the bed. The burned ash adds minor amounts of P and K to the soil. Sow two or three seeds in holes spaced 10 cm apart in furrows spaced 25 cm apart. Cover seedbed with a fine-mesh nylon net to protect seedlings from pests, heavy rain, and harsh sunlight. Transplant seedlings one month after sowing or when they reach 20–30 cm high. Dig seedlings using a trowel taking care that roots are not damaged. Place the bare-root seedlings in a bucket containing water and transplant them as soon as possible.
Field planting. Spacing’s are similar to those recommended in the direct seeding method.
Moringa may also be planted 1 m apart or closer in a row to establish living fence posts. Trees can be planted in gardens to provide shade to vegetables less tolerant to direct sunlight. Moringa trees are also used to support climbing crops such as yam and pole beans. Trees are also planted in hedgerows forming wide alleys where vegetables are planted within. Choose vegetables that are adapted to alley cropping, such as shade-tolerant leafy vegetables and herbs, since moringa hedgerows are highly competitive and can reduce yields of companion plants significantly.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation – Using stem cuttings
Compared to trees planted from seed, trees from stem cuttings grow faster but develop a shallow root system that makes them more susceptible to moisture stress and wind damage.
Make stem cuttings using branches of a tree that is at least one year old. Use hard wood and avoid using young green stem tissue. Cuttings can be 45–150 cm long with diameters of 4–16 cm. Cuttings can be dried in the shade for three days before planting in the nursery or in the field. Cut- tings are then planted directly or planted in plastic pots or bags in the nursery or screenhouse. When planting directly, plant cuttings in light, sandy soil. Plant one- third of the length in the soil (i.e., if the cutting is 90 cm long, plant it 30 cm deep). Add a balanced fertilizer or compost to infertile soils to en- courage root development. Irrigate regularly to keep the soil moist but not wet. Cuttings planted in a nursery are ready for field planting after 2– 3 months. Follow the field planting recommendations mentioned for direct seeding and transplanting.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation – Controlling pests and diseases
Moringa grows well in most soils without additions of fertilizer. Once established, the extensive and deep root system of moringa is efficient in mining nutrients from the soil.
For optimum growth and yields, fertilizers are applied at planting time. Dig trenches around the base of the plant (10–20 cm from the base) and apply approximately 300 g of a commercial nitro- gen fertilizer per tree. If commercial nitrogen fertilizer is not available, use compost or well-rotted farmyard manure at the rate of 1–2 kg/tree.
Irrigate newly transplanted trees immediately after transplanting to promote early root development. In dry and arid climates, irrigate regularly for the first two months. Once established, moringa rarely need watering. The well-rooted tree tolerates drought and needs irrigation only when persistent wilting is evident.
Cultivate the soil thoroughly before planting to sup- press early weed growth. Apply straw and/or plastic mulch around the base of each young tree. Maintain a weed-free planting by regularly cultivating between beds and rows.
Moringa is resistant to most pests and diseases, but outbreaks may occur under certain conditions. For example, diplodia root rot may appear in waterlogged soils, causing severe wilting and death of plants. Mite populations can increase during dry and cool weather. These pests create yellowing of leaves, but plants usually recover during warm weather. Other insect pests include termites, aphids, leafminers, whiteflies, and caterpillars.
Chemical control of insect pests should be used only when severe infestations occur. Choose a pesticide that targets the specific pest causing the damage, and avoid pesticides that kill or inhibit the development of beneficial organisms. Choose pesticides that last only a few days.
Cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats will eat moringa seedlings, pods and leaves. Protect moringa seedlings from livestock by installing fence or by planting a hedge around the plot.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation – Pruning
Moringa should be trimmed to promote branching, increase yields, and facilitate harvesting. If left to grow without cutting the main trunk, the fast-growing tree will grow straight and tall producing leaves and pods only on the primary stem. To encourage the development of many branches and pods within easy reach from the ground, prune the apical growing shoot when the tree is 1.0–2.0 m high. Use a sharp cutting knife, machete, or pruning saw to make smooth cuts. New shoots will emerge from just below where the cut is made. Thereafter, cut the growing tips of the branches so that the tree will become bushier. Another pruning strategy is to cut back each branch by 30 cm when it reaches 60 cm in length. This will produce a multibranched shrub.
If the tree is being grown for pod production, remove flowers during the first year. This will channel all of the young tree’s energy into vegetative and root development (rather than energy- draining pods), leading to more vigorous growth and productive yields in the future, to making dried leaf powder, since stems can be removed during the sifting process.
For fresh vegetables, tie harvested leaves in bundles and place them under shade to maintain freshness. Moringa leaves can easily lose moisture after harvesting, therefore, harvest early in the morning and sell the same day, if possible.
The leaflets can also be dried in the sun for a few hours and then stored for consumption during the hot-wet season, a time when minerals and vitamins are most lacking in diets.
Flowers and pods are normally produced during the second year of growth. Harvest pods when they are young, tender, and green. They are eaten as green beans. Older pods are fibrous and develop a tough shell, but their pulp and immature seeds remain edible until shortly before the ripening process begins. Immature seeds can be used in recipes similar to green peas. Fresh or dried flowers are used for making teas.
Older trees that are unproductive or too high for easy harvesting can be pruned at ground level. New shoots will emerge quickly from the base.
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation – Harvesting
Leaves can be harvested after plants grow 1.5–2.0 m, which usually takes at least one year. Harvest leaves by snapping leaf stems from branches. Harvesting young shoot tips will promote development of side branches where cuts along the main branches are made. Allow plants to develop new shoots and branches before subsequent harvests. If plants are grown at closer spacing and higher density, cut plants about 10–20 cm above ground.
Older leaves will need to be stripped from their tough and wiry stems. These leaves are more suited
Moringa Plant, Grow, Cultivation – Collecting and storing ripe Moringa seeds
Mature pods contain ripe seeds that are used for planting the next crop or for extracting oil. When producing seed for oil extraction, allow the pods to dry and turn brown on the tree. Harvest pods be- fore they split open and fall to the ground. Store seeds in well-ventilated sacks in a cool, dry, and shaded area. Seeds remain viable for planting for two years.
Malunggay tree is know for its rich nutrients, proteins and vitamins such as vitamin A which is important for the development of eyes from growing children.
Another name is Mothers Best Friend.
The tree can be found in Asia, Africa and South America.
Products from the leaves and roots are vitamin capsules as food supplements, tea, shampoo, soap and can used for water purification purposes.
by Ansel Oommen
Friday, 23rd January 2015
The Moringa Tree, also known as the Drumstick tree is nearly entirely edible. It can grow with little water, has multiple times the amount of nutrients as oranges, carrots and milk, plus grows very well in regions of malnutrition. Could this tree solve the world’s food crisis?
In the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, a certain tree has long graced the region with its miraculous fruit. Hanging from its wiry branches are clusters of ribbed pods, each a foot in length. These pods, or drumsticks, have attracted the attention of mankind for millennia, and for good reason.
While the aptly named Drumstick tree has a rather slender appearance, it is anything but frail. A tropical native, this prolific powerhouse has spread its roots across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. And now, it seems to have anchored itself in American soil.
Part of a new wave of exotic vegetables, Moringa oleifera (MO) is a botanical platypus. A member of the order Brassicales, it’s a distant relative of both the cabbage and papaya. Its roots taste so much like its cousin horseradish, that it’s earned the title ‘horseradish tree’. Its fruit, a popular Indian vegetable, looks like a cross between an okra and a pole bean with the flavor of asparagus. Its cooked flowers mimic mushrooms in taste, while its leaves hint at spinach and lettuce. Its immature seeds are used like peas and if fried when mature, resemble peanuts.
In fact, it’s hard to find a part of Moringa that isn’t edible. Even the bark is sometimes taken internally for diarrhea. But that doesn’t come as a surprise to the locals, who consider it a living pharmacy. Moringa has proven to be a multipurpose arsenal that dispenses some of the best secrets nature has to offer. For centuries, it has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat a host of ailments including anemia, bronchitis, tumors, scurvy, and skin infections.
Drought hardy and disease resistant, MO is a godsend during the dry season, when little food is available. The fresh leaves and branches serve as an excellent source of forage. Indeed, a Nicaraguan study confirms MO’s ability to boost milk production in cows without affecting its taste, smell, or color.
The leaves offer a spectrum of nutrition, rich in vitamins A, B, and C, as well as protein, calcium, and iron. They are so nutritious in fact, that they contain more vitamin A than carrots, more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, more potassium than bananas, and more protein than either milk or eggs! A traditional item in pickles and curries, the raw leaves are also perfect for salads.
As a result, Moringa could play a key role as a wholesome food source in impoverished nations, where malnutrition is often rampant. The World Health Organization has stressed the importance of amino acids and protein for growing children. Luckily, Moringa leaves are rich in these nutrients, with the added benefit of omega-3 fatty acids and a host of protective phytochemicals.
When mixed in with different cereals, children regained normal weight and health status in 30-40 days, while the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) recipe for malnourished children took 80 days, double the difference.
“[It] is a very healthy satisfying food that meets all nutritive needs. It is cheap to produce, can be cooked or eaten raw, sold in the market, or dried as a powder to be sold over long distances,” added Nikolaus Foidl, a world leading agricultural researcher on Moringa.
Foidl has been studying the tree for over a decade in conjunction with the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany. He has traveled to many countries, including Senegal, Honduras, Guinea Bissau, and Argentina, promoting the miracle tree’s cultivation by working with the locals.
In Nicaragua, he helped farmers utilize the leaf extract as a growth spray for other crops.
“Moringa leaves contain the growth factors gibberellin, kinetin, and some lower levels of auxin. We got up to a 25% increase in sugarcane and turnips, onions and radish.”
Such a bountiful increase should not be ignored, especially in areas where food shortage is an issue. Foidl, who has the financial support of the Austrian government, first came across the tree by accident.
He recounted, “By chance, I had a Jatropha plantation with rows of Moringa as windbreaks and the damn cows were always breaking down my fences to get to them. So I wondered, what is so special about this tree that the cows are willing to risk injury?”
That question has now led to a new understanding of MO’s multifaceted potential. As a vigorous hardy grower, it surprisingly does not require much water or soil nutrients once established. This makes it one of the most valuable tropical trees in terms of overall utility.
Like the leaves, the flowers too are edible when cooked, packed with calcium and potassium. As a bonus, they are not only incredibly fragrant, but also support native bee populations.
MO roots and bark, on the other hand, are used with caution. The bark contains the toxic chemicals moringinine and spirochin which can alter heart rate and blood pressure. However, they do show promise in the medical field. The inner flesh of the root is less toxic, and those of young plants are picked for a hot sauce base while the resin is added as a thickener. Interestingly, blue dye can be obtained from the wood, which is also used in paper production.
But if Moringa were a magician, it has certainly saved its best trick for last. The famed drumsticks contain all nine essential amino acids that humans must obtain exclusively from their diet. Often, they’re chopped into logs, boiled, and split into thirds lengthwise. The fibrous rind is inedible – rather it’s the soft jellied pulp and seeds that are sought after. These can be scooped out or scraped away by the teeth.
Hidden within the drumsticks are even more remarkable seeds. Loaded with protein, they also contain special non-toxic polypeptides that act as natural Brita filters. When ground into powder and mixed with water, they cause sediments to clump together and settle out. Then when strained through a cloth, they provide cheap access to clean water. Amazingly, just two seeds are enough to purify a dirty liter.
“It has been widely used at the village level in Africa to transform river water into drinking water,” shared Foidl. “I had a project working with the seeds in a wastewater treatment plant in Nicaragua (wastewater from 4,000 people). It was very effective – about 99.5% separation of turbidity in 30 minutes.”
In turn, the seeds themselves yield a valuable yellow oil called ben oil. Sweet, clear, and odorless, it doesn’t spoil easily – perfect for perfumes, cosmetics, and lubrication. It has also found use in cooking due to its high levels of healthy unsaturated fats.
For such a versatile tree, it’s almost hard to believe that Moringa is easily grown via seeds or cuttings. Foidl remarked, “It grows virtually better than willow.”
As agriculture becomes more expensive, managing the long-term productivity of the land is essential. Moringa solves this issue through a practice called high-density planting. The trees are grown closely together to increase the yield per given area, while at the same time reducing the need for herbicides. Because MO grows rapidly, it crowds out and suppresses neighboring weeds.
“The optimal density is 1 million plants per hectare (10 x 10cm spacing), where the losses of plants per cut are around 1% and the losses are compensated through vigorous sprouting,” explained Foidl. “Moringa is cut at a height of 15 to 25cm for vigorous regrowth.”
Moringa just before harvest. Foidl either harvest at 35 days of growth or 75.
Moringa harvested on rotation.
This practice allows for cutting every 35 days, totaling 10 harvests per year. In fact, 120 tons of dry matter can be harvested per hectare a year, 10 times more than corn and several times more than soy. As a result, there is a constant supply of fresh food, with little need for storage.
Moringa is in a unique position to address the issues of hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and lack of clean water all at once, something no other plant can boast. It is even more valuable considering it is found widely throughout the tropics, in the regions where it is needed most, making this ancient tree a true modern day miracle.
Moringa’s growing regions and regions of malnutrition.
About the Author: Ansel Oommen is a garden writer, citizen scientist, and medical transcriptionist whose works have been published in magazines such as Atlas Obscura, Well Being Journal, and Entomology Today, among others. Discover more at www.behance.net/Ansel.
All images thanks to Nikolaus Foidl apart from Moringa root, thanks to Crops for the Future.
Most parents tell their children to eat as much green, leafy vegetable as they can because it will make them healthy. Not all parents, however, really know why green, leafy vegetables are beneficial for a person’s health. The simple explanation for this is that vegetables contain a lot of nutrients and vitamins that the body needs to fight against infections or diseases. These components are also important for boosting a person’s energy level to enable him or her to do tasks without getting tired or fatigued easily. Vegetables, unlike meat, are simply eliminated from a person’s body after its nutrients are extracted and does not cause any build-up of harmful substances such as cholesterol. Since it cannot be digested by a person’s system, its by-products also help in cleansing a person’s digestive tract. Among the different green, leafy vegetables, however, there is one that specially stands out above the rest. It is scientifically called Moringa oleifera or in common terms the drumstick tree, horseradish tree, malunggay in the Philippines, or sijan in India.
A lot of researchers who have spent some time studying about the health benefits of Moringa label the plant as the miracle tree. Most people who use this vegetable as part of their daily consumption are usually those who are in the lower socio-economic status, thus, it has also earned the label poor man’s food. The Moringa tree is easy to cultivate and easily grows even in areas that do not have much water for plant sustenance. This is why even in countries such as Senegal in West Africa where malnutrition and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) are widespread, it can be accessed by a lot of people as a source of nutritional supplements. It is also fast-growing and drought-resistant, thus, can be utilized immediately if needed and sustainable for a longer period of time.
Most sources indicate that the Moringa tree contains vitamin C which is seven times more than the amount found in oranges, has four times calcium content and twice more protein amount than milk, four time the amount of vitamin A than in carrots, and three times the potassium-content of bananas. One study conducted in the Philippines has proven that malunggay, the Filipino name of Moringa, when consumed daily by malnourished children, can solve most of the malnutrition problem in the country. Aside from these components, Moringa is also known to contain a lot of iron, beta-carotene, and anti-oxidant. Another study has discovered that Moringa can help poor women during their pregnancy and their babies remain healthy by providing most of the nutrients needed for their growth and by increasing the milk production of the mothers during lactation. Aside from these, the plant can also be used to treat or relieve infections, inflammations, arthritis pain, diabetes, and cancer. It is also said to be an effective skin antiseptic and good for stabilizing blood pressure. It has a soothing effect that it is also used by native people as a treatment for anxiety.
What makes this miracle tree and vegetable really wonderful is its affordability and accessibility. Unlike most medicine or treatments, it can be utilized even by those who have financial limitations to prevent or cure illnesses. In countries like India and Philippines, the government already includes in their programs the inclusion of growing these trees especially in rural areas to be consumed by the people. They have also provided campaigns to educate the people about the nutritional benefits of the Moringa and various ways of cooking it and using it as treatment. Now, because of this tree, even the poorest of the poor can be healthy and free from ailments. The provision of this highly beneficial plant, especially among financially-challenged people, is almost like divine intervention which is probably why it is indeed a miracle tree.
Moringa oleifera is a fast-growing tree native to South Asia and now found throughout the tropics. Its leaves have been used as part of traditional medicine for centuries, and the Ayurvedic system of medicine associates it with the cure or prevention of about 300 diseases.1
Moringa, sometimes described as the “miracle tree,” “drumstick tree,” or “horseradish tree,” has small, rounded leaves that are packed with an incredible amount of nutrition: protein, calcium, beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium… you name it, moringa’s got it. No wonder it’s been used medicinally (and as a food source) for at least 4,000 years.2
The fact that moringa grows rapidly and easily makes it especially appealing for impoverished areas, and it’s been used successfully for boosting nutritional intake in Malawi, Senegal, and India. In these areas, moringa may be the most nutritious food locally available, and it can be harvested year-round.3
Personally, I grew a moringa tree for two years and I can attest to the fact that it grows like a weed. For those living in third-world countries, it may very well prove to be a valuable source of nutrition.
However I don’t recommend planting one in your backyard for health purposes as the leaves are very small and it is a timely and exceedingly tedious task to harvest the leaves from the stem to eat them.
The leaves are tiny and difficult to harvest and use, so you’ll likely find, as I did, that growing one is more trouble than it’s worth. That being said, there is no denying that moringa offers an impressive nutritional profile that makes it appealing once it is harvested…
1. A Rich Nutritional Profile
Moringa leaves are loaded with vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, and more. One hundred grams of dry moringa leaf contains:4
- 9 times the protein of yogurt
- 10 times the vitamin A of carrots
- 15 times the potassium of bananas
- 17 times the calcium of milk
- 12 times the vitamin C of oranges
- 25 times the iron of spinach
2. Antioxidants Galore
Moringa leaves are rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, quercetin, and chlorogenic acid. The latter, chlorogenic acid, has been shown to slow cells’ absorption of sugar and animal studies have found it to lower blood sugar levels. As noted in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention:5
“The leaves of the Moringa oleifera tree have been reported to demonstrate antioxidant activity due to its high amount of polyphenols.
Moringa oleifera extracts of both mature and tender leaves exhibit strong antioxidant activity against free radicals, prevent oxidative damage to major biomolecules, and give significant protection against oxidative damage.”
Further, in a study of women taking 1.5 teaspoons of moringa leaf powder daily for three months, blood levels of antioxidants increased significantly.6
3. Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Moringa appears to have anti-diabetic effects,7 likely due to beneficial plant compounds contained in the leaves, including isothiocyanates. One study found women who took seven grams of moringa leaf powder daily for three months reduced their fasting blood sugar levels by 13.5 percent. 8
Separate research revealed that adding 50 grams of moringa leaves to a meal reduced the rise in blood sugar by 21 percent among diabetic patients.9
4. Reduce Inflammation
The isothiocyanates, flavonoids, and phenolic acids in moringa leaves, pods, and seeds also have anti-inflammatory properties. According to the Epoch Times:10
“The tree’s strong anti-inflammatory action is traditionally used to treat stomach ulcers. Moringa oil (sometimes called Ben oil) has been shown to protect the liver from chronic inflammation. The oil is unique in that, unlike most vegetable oils, moringa resists rancidity.
This quality makes it a good preservative for foods that can spoil quickly. This sweet oil is used for both frying or in a salad dressing. It is also used topically to treat antifungal problems, arthritis, and is an excellent skin moisturizer.”
5. Maintain Healthy Cholesterol Levels
Moringa also has cholesterol-lowering properties, and one animal study found its effects were comparable to those of the cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin.11 As noted in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology:12
“Moringa oleifera is used in Thai traditional medicine as cardiotonic. Recent studies demonstrated its hypocholesterolemic effect.
… In hypercholesterol-fed rabbits, at 12 weeks of treatment, it significantly (P<0.05) lowered the cholesterol levels and reduced the atherosclerotic plaque formation to about 50 and 86%, respectively. These effects were at degrees comparable to those of simvastatin.
… The results indicate that this plant possesses antioxidant, hypolipidaemic, and antiatherosclerotic activities, and has therapeutic potential for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.”
6. Protect Against Arsenic Toxicity
The leaves and seeds of moringa may protect against some of the effects of arsenic toxicity, which is especially important in light of news that common staple foods, such as rice, may be contaminated.13 Contamination of ground water by arsenic has also become a cause of global public health concern, and one study revealed: 14
“Co-administration of M. oleifera [moringa] seed powder (250 and 500 mg/kg, orally) with arsenic significantly increased the activities of SOD [superoxide dismutase], catalase, and GPx with elevation in reduced GSH level in tissues (liver, kidney, and brain).
These changes were accompanied by approximately 57%, 64%, and 17% decrease in blood ROS [reactive oxygen species], liver metallothionein (MT), and lipid peroxidation respectively in animal co-administered with M. oleifera and arsenic.
Another interesting observation has been the reduced uptake of arsenic in soft tissues (55% in blood, 65% in liver, 54% in kidneys, and 34% in brain) following administration of M. oleifera seed powder (particularly at the dose of 500 mg/kg).
It can thus be concluded from the present study that concomitant administration of M. oleifera seed powder with arsenic could significantly protect animals from oxidative stress and in reducing tissue arsenic concentration. Administration of M. oleifera seed powder thus could also be beneficial during chelation therapy…”
From a digestive standpoint, moringa is high in fiber that, as the Epoch Times put it, “works like a mop in your intestines… to clean up any of that extra grunge left over from a greasy diet.”15 Also noteworthy are its isothiocyanates, which have anti-bacterial properties that may help to rid your body of H. pylori, a bacteria implicated in gastritis, ulcers, and gastric cancer. Moringa seeds have even been found to work better for water purification than many of the conventional synthetic materials in use today.
According to Uppsala University:16
“A protein in the seeds binds to impurities causing them to aggregate so that the clusters can be separated from the water. The study… published in the journal Colloids and Surfaces A takes a step towards optimization of the water purification process.17
Researchers in Uppsala together with colleagues from Lund as well as Namibia, Botswana, France, and the USA have studied the microscopic structure of aggregates formed with the protein.
The results show that the clusters of material (flocs) that are produced with the protein are much more tightly packed than those formed with conventional flocculating agents. This is better for water purification as such flocs are more easily separated.”
There is speculation that moringa’s ability to attach itself to harmful materials may also happen in the body, making moringa a potential detoxification tool.
If you have access to a moringa tree, you can use the fresh leaves in your meals; they have a flavor similar to a radish. Toss them like a salad, blend them into smoothies, or steam them like spinach. Another option is to use moringa powder, either in supplement form or added to smoothies, soups, and other foods for extra nutrition. Moringa powder has a distinctive “green” flavor, so you may want to start out slowly when adding it to your meals.
You can also use organic, cold-pressed moringa oil (or ben oil), although it’s expensive (about 15 times more than olive oil).18 As mentioned, while I don’t necessarily recommend planting a moringa tree in your backyard (a rapid-growing tree can grow to 15 to 30 feet in just a few years), you may want to give the leaves or powder a try if you come across some at your local health food market. As reported by Fox News, this is one plant food that displays not just one or two but numerous potential healing powers:19
“Virtually all parts of the plant are used to treat inflammation, infectious disorders, and various problems of the cardiovascular and digestive organs, while improving liver function and enhancing milk flow in nursing mothers. The uses of moringa are well documented in both the Ayurvedic and Unani systems of traditional medicine, among the most ancient healing systems in the world.
Moringa is rich in a variety of health-enhancing compounds, including moringine, moringinine, the potent antioxidants quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and various polyphenols. The leaves seem to be getting the most market attention, notably for their use in reducing high blood pressure, eliminating water weight, and lowering cholesterol.
Studies show that moringa leaves possess anti-tumor and anti-cancer activities, due in part to a compound called niaziminin. Preliminary experimentation also shows activity against the Epstein-Barr virus. Compounds in the leaf appear to help regulate thyroid function, especially in cases of over-active thyroid. Further research points to anti-viral activity in cases of Herpes simplex 1.”