Trees

Moringa

moringa-oilMoringa oleifera is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Moringa, which is the only genus in the family Moringaceae. English common names include: moringa, drumstick tree (from the appearance of the long, slender, triangular seed-pods), horseradish tree (from the taste of the roots, which resembles horseradish), ben oil tree, or benzoil tree (from the oil which is derived from the seeds). It is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree, native to the southern foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern India, and widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical areas where its young seed pods and leaves are used as vegetables. It can also be used for water purification and hand washing, and is sometimes used in herbal medicine.Moringa oleifera is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Moringa, which is the only genus in the family Moringaceae. English common names include: moringa, drumstick tree (from the appearance of the long, slender, triangular seed-pods), horseradish tree (from the taste of the roots, which resembles horseradish), ben oil tree, or benzoil tree (from the oil which is derived from the seeds). It is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree, native to the southern foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern India, and widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical areas where its young seed pods and leaves are used as vegetables. It can also be used for water purification and hand washing, and is sometimes used in herbal medicine.

TYPE: Can be cultivated as an annual or perennial, depending on what whether one is harvesting the fruit or the oil.

DESCRIPTION: M. oleifera is a fast-growing, deciduous tree that can reach a height of 10–12 m (32–40 ft) and trunk diameter of 45 cm (1.5 ft). The bark has a whitish-grey colour and is surrounded by thick cork. Young shoots have purplish or greenish-white, hairy bark. The tree has an open crown of drooping, fragile branches and the leaves build up a feathery foliage of tripinnate leaves. The flowers are fragrant and asexual, surrounded by five unequal, thinly veined, yellowish-white petals. The flowers are about 1.0-1.5 cm (1/2″) long and 2.0 cm (3/4″) broad. They grow on slender, hairy stalks in spreading or drooping flower clusters which have a length of 10–25 cm. Flowering begins within the first six months after planting. In seasonally cool regions, flowering only occurs once a year between April and June. In more constant seasonal temperatures and with constant rainfall, flowering can happen twice or even all year-round. The fruit is a hanging, three-sided brown capsule of 20–45 cm size which holds dark brown, globular seeds with a diameter around 1 cm. The seeds have three whitish papery wings and are dispersed by wind and water. In cultivation, it is often cut back annually to 1–2 m (3–6 ft) and allowed to regrow so the pods and leaves remain within arm’s reach.

CONDITIONS: Native to tropical and subtropical regions, but does well in semiarid areas also, as long as there is no frost.

HOW TO GROW: Moringa can be propagated from seed or cuttings. Direct seeding is possible because the germination rate of M. oleifera is high. Moringa seeds can be germinated year-round in well-draining soil. Cuttings of 1 m length and at least 4 cm diameter can be used for vegetative propagation.

MAIN USES: Moringa is very versatile: Leaves are the most nutritious, and are eaten as a type of spinach. Dried leaves are ground into a fine powder, and used in food dishes, and for medicinal purposes.The fruity pods are cut up and are popular in Eastern curries and stews. The dried seeds are sometimes removed from mature pods, and are eaten like peas or roasted like nuts. Mature seeds yield 38–40% edible oil called ben oil from its high concentration of behenic acid. The refined oil is clear and odorless, and resists rancidity. The seed cake remaining after oil extraction may be used as a fertilizer or as a flocculent to purify water. Moringa seed oil also has potential for use as a biofuel. The roots are shredded and used as a condiment with sharp flavor qualities deriving from significant content of polyphenols.

MEDICINAL USES: Very popular as a supplement for malnutrition, especially for infants and nursing mothers, due to its ability to combat iron deficiency.

Source: Wiki

 

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