Fruit trees: Moringa

Fruit trees: Moringa

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Moringa oleifera is native to eastern India, it is believed to be in the foothills of the Himalayan chain of Uttar Pradesh. The species is variously widespread and cultivated throughout the tropical belt of the planet.
Another species, Moringa stenopetala, native to Ethiopia (south belt) and Kenya (north belt), has had a remarkable development in cultivation, especially in its countries of origin. It produces less fruits of Moringa oleifera, and therefore less seeds.

Moringa flowers - Moringa oleifera

Cultivation of Moringa - Moringa oleifera


Moringa oleifera reaches from 4 to 7 m in height, but with deep and fertile soil it also exceeds 10 m; it has an erect trunk or branched from the base, soft and with a spongy consistency; the wood is weak, the branches, thin and intertwined, are pendulous.
The leaves are pluricomposte (each leaf is composed of some leaves), each leaf is imparted with opposite oval leaves and with a terminal leaflet; the leaves are somewhat robust, light green on the back, glaucous (pale) green on the back.
The roots have a strong radish smell and taste, hence the name "horseradish tree", that is, the radish tree.
The flowers are small but numerous, cream-white in color, excellent producers of nectar for bees, of moderate decorative value. In a tropical environment, the plant can bloom two or three times a year.
The fruits are large triangular section pods, tapered and pointed (30-45 cm long), green and soft if immature; at maturity they take on an ocher and then brown color and a woody consistency.
The brown seeds contained look like beans, but are rounded and have a paper membrane; they are from 16 to 22 per pod, while each tree produces from 20 to 80 pods.


Food uses
Practically the whole plant is edible and of considerable interest from a nutritional point of view.
The leaves can be eaten and are very rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals. They have a slightly spicy and pleasant taste even in the raw state. Often they are prepared in a salad, but they can be cooked like spinach. They contain 25 percent by weight of protein (more than eggs and double the cow's milk), quadruple in vitamin A of carrots, almost eight times the vitamin C of oranges, triple of the potassium in bananas.
As for the fruits, the most common and frequent use is the preparation, by boiling, of immature pods (called drum sticks), which have the flavor of asparagus.
The seeds are taken boiled or toasted and have the flavor of chickpeas. The extraction of oil from seeds is a very important resource: the seeds contain from 30 to 50% of oil (olives from 8 to 20%). The extracted oil contains 65 to 76% of oleic acid which is the same unsaturated fat as the olive oil. The oil is sweet and tasty and does not turn rancid.
Even the roots are edible and, as mentioned, they have a spicy taste like radish. The spicy aroma of the roots is more pronounced than that of the leaves. The common use of the roots is that of flavoring (analogous to horseradish), but, due to the presence of an alkaloid (the spirochina) which would interfere with nerve transmission, its use in excessive quantities is not recommended.
The flowers are also edible, usually prepared in salads.

Other uses
The oil extracted from the seeds can be used to produce soaps, lubricants and cosmetics with a value equivalent to those produced with olive oil, and therefore quite high. The extracted oils would also be suitable for the preparation of biodiesel fuel, although it seems an inappropriate use given the quality and potential food uses. From the bark is extracted a rubber with many uses, and tannic substances used for the tanning of skins. The wood can be used for the paper industry, it also provides an azure color dye.
A liquid fertilizer can be prepared from the leaves of Moringa oleifera by infusing the leaves in water for several days.

Video: My Moringa Trees Are Growing Drumsticks - Zone 8 (August 2022).