Moringa

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Exotic moringa tree

Scientific name: Moringa oleifera

English Name: Moringa

Local Name: Moringa (E)

General information

Moringa oleifera is a small, graceful, deciduous tree with sparse foliage, often resembling a leguminous species at a distance, especially when in flower, but immediately recognized when in fruit. Bole crooked, often forked from near the base. Bark smooth, dark grey; slash thin, yellowish. Twigs and shoots shortly but densely hairy. Crown wide, open, typically umbrella shaped and usually a single stem; often deep rooted. The wood is soft.

Health benefits
Moringa leaves and pods are a nutritional powerhouse that provides a great range and amount of essential proteins, vitamins, and minerals. It is effective in maintaining optimal levels of blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the body. Moringa is an anticancer agent and is highly valued in tumor therapy. It helps to lower blood sugar levels and extracts are beneficial for maintaining healthy bones, which is attributed to the presence of essential minerals like calcium and phosphorous. It also helps in enhancing the cellular immune response. Moringa extracts are helpful in the prevention of cardiac damage, due to the presence of powerful antioxidants and exert antidiabetic effects. Moringa extracts are effective against the formation of stones in the kidney, bladder, and uterus.

Human benefits

The leaves are good source of protein, vitamins A, B and C and minerals such as calcium and iron, are used as a spinach equivalent. Young plants are eaten as a tender vegetable and the taproots as an alternative for horseradish. The pleasantly flavoured edible oil, resembling olive oil, is an excellent salad oil. The flowers can be eaten or used to make a tea.  The soft and light wood is an acceptable firewood for cooking and also useful in construction work. Bark, when beaten, produces a fiber used to make small ropes and mats. Bark used for tanning hides and wood yields a blue dye.

Farmer benefits

The green leaves make a useful mulch. The press cake left after oil extraction from the seeds can be used as a soil conditioner or as fertilizer. The tree provides semi-shade, useful in intercropping systems where intense direct sunlight can damage crops. For livestock, branches are occasionally cut for feeding camels and cattle.

Cultivation Details

Succeeds in warm temperate to tropical areas and can be found at elevations from sea-level to about 1,000 metres.It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 35°c, but can tolerate 7 - 48°c.The plant is quite cold hardy and is not harmed by light frosts, but it can be killed back to ground level by a freeze. It quickly sends out new growth from the trunk when cut, or from the ground when frozen It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 700 - 2,200mm, but tolerates 400 - 2,600mm

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