The Moringa Olifeira
Moringa oleifera – from the genus Moringa which is the only genus in the family Moringaceae.
TREE ARBOUR TREE SHAPE/PROFILE
The moringa has an open crown of drooping fragile branches and feathery leaves which are tripinnate shape. They generally grow to an average of 4-5 meters wide.
It tends to produce long branches that grow vertically and produce leaves and fruits at their extremity yield will be low if left to grow naturally.
It is essential to give the trees a good shape while they are young by enhancing lateral branching to create bushy growth.
Pinching the terminal bud on the central stem is necessary when the tree gets to 50cm to 1 m this will trigger the growth of lateral branches which can be pinched as well this will increase yields and reduce the height of the tree which will make harvesting easier and lessen damage from winds.
The moringa is a fast growing tree that can grow up to 3 metres tall in the first year alone and eventually reach 12 metres, they have a short life span of around 20 years.
COUNRTY OF ORIGIN
The moringa is native to north west India in the southern foothills of the Himalayas. The average rainfall of the area is 250-752mm.
The leaves can be harvested after the plant grows 1.5-2 metres and usually within the first year the tree will begin producing pods. The fruit and seeds ripen during the warmest and wettest time of year, the pre-monsoon and monsoon seasons in their native Indian climate.
Moringa trees can be sown in alleys and associated with other crops, with a distance of 2-4 metres between trees they should be planted East-West to ensure that intercrops receive enough sun.
It is best to avoid associating the moringa with crops that require a lot of nitrogen it is best to associate crops that can enrich the soil in minerals, especially in nitrogen like leguminous plants.
Every part of the moringa can bet used it is truly a remarkable tree each culture or country has a unique way of using it.
The table below shows the ways each part of the tree can be used.
TREE PART USES OR BENEFITS
LEAVES Nutritional, forage, biomass, plants growth hormone, medicinal
FLOWERS Nutritional, medicinal, honey
FRUIT Nutritional, medicinal
ROOTS Nutritional, medicinal
SEEDS Cosmetics, food, water treatment, medicinal,
WOOD Paper, alcohol production, animal feed, medicinal
BARK Rope making, gum for tanning hides, medicinal
The moringa has over 46 antioxidants, 18 Amino-Acids and 36 anti-inflammatory compounds all naturally occurring in the Moringa plant. It is such a useful tree.
The pod is cooked as a vegetable in India.
the root can be used as a substitute for horseradish.
The foliage is eaten as greens, boiled, fried, in soups or for seasoning. Dried leaf powder can be added to meals or smoothies as a nutritional supplement.
The seed can be roasted and eaten like a peanut.
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