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Moringa Oleifera: Most Awesome Tree Ever

gnome

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Debated whether to put this in survival prep or alternative health forum. In the end, I figure growing Moringa could be one of the most valuable preps one could make if you live in a suitable climate. Plant it once and harvest this superfood for the next 40 years! Drought tolerant and low-maintenance. In Aryurveda, they say Moringa cures 300 diseases.

I have a couple of moringa trees growing from seed right now...only about 8 inches tall. Looking forward to first harvest.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moringa_oleifera

Distribution

The "Moringa" tree is grown mainly in semi-arid, tropical, and subtropical areas, corresponding in the United States to USDA hardiness zones 9 and 10. While it grows best in dry sandy soil, it tolerates poor soil, including coastal areas. It is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree that is native to the southern foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern India. Reports that it grows wild in the Middle East or Africa are completely unsubstantiated. Today it is widely cultivated in Africa, Central and South America, Sri Lanka, India, Mexico, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. It is considered one of the world’s most useful trees, as almost every part of the Moringa tree can be used for food or has some other beneficial property. In the tropics, it is used as forage for livestock, and in many countries, Moringa is used as a micronutrient powder to treat diseases.
A traditional food plant in Africa, this little-known vegetable has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development, and support sustainable landcare.[2]

General nutrition

The immature green pods called “drumsticks” are probably the most valued and widely used part of the tree. They are commonly consumed in India and are generally prepared in a similar fashion to green beans and have a slight asparagus taste. The seeds are sometimes removed from more mature pods and eaten like peas or roasted like nuts. The flowers are edible when cooked, and are said to taste like mushrooms. The roots are shredded and used as a condiment in the same way as horseradish; however, it contains the alkaloid spirochin, a potentially fatal nerve-paralyzing agent, so such practices should be strongly discouraged.[citation needed]

The leaves are highly nutritious, being a significant source of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, protein, iron, and potassium.[3] The leaves are cooked and used like spinach. In addition to being used fresh as a substitute for spinach, its leaves are commonly dried and crushed into a powder, and used in soups and sauces. Murungakai, as it is locally known in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, is used in Siddha medicine. The tree is a good source for calcium and phosphorus. In Siddha medicines, these drumstick seeds are used as a sexual virility drug for treating erectile dysfunction in men and also in women for prolonging sexual activity.
The Moringa seeds yield 38–40% edible oil (called ben oil from the high concentration of behenic acid contained in the oil). The refined oil is clear, odorless, and resists rancidity at least as well as any other botanical oil. The seed cake remaining after oil extraction may be used as a fertilizer or as a flocculent to purify water.[4]

The bark, sap, roots, leaves, seeds, oil, and flowers are used in traditional medicine in several countries. In Jamaica, the sap is used for a blue dye.
The flowers are also cooked and relished as a delicacy in West Bengal and Bangladesh, especially during early spring. There it is called sojne ful and is usually cooked with green peas and potato.
http://www.naturalnews.com/022272_Moringa_medicinal_herbs.html

(NaturalNews) Imagine a tree in your backyard that will meet all your nutritional needs, take care of you medicinally, and purify your water for you. This tree actually exists. For centuries, the natives of northern India and many parts of Africa have known of the many benefits of Moringa oleifera. Its uses are as unique as the names it is known by, such as clarifier tree, horseradish tree and drumstick tree (referring to the large drumstick shaped pods) and in East Africa it is called "mother's best friend”. Virtually every part of the tree can be used. Native only to the foothills of the Himalayas, it is now widely cultivated in Africa, Central and South America, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia and the Philippines. This tree, though little known in the Western world, is nutritional dynamite. There are literally hundreds of uses for this tree.

The immature pods are the most valued and widely used of all the tree parts. The pods are extremely nutritious, containing all the essential amino acids along with many vitamins and other nutrients. The immature pod can be eaten raw or prepared like green peas or green beans, while the mature pods are usually fried and possess a peanut-like flavor. The pods also yield 38 - 40% of non-drying, edible oil known as Ben Oil. This oil is clear, sweet and odorless, and never becomes rancid. Overall, its nutritional value most closely resembles olive oil. The thickened root is used as a substitute for horseradish although this is now discouraged as it contains alkaloids, especially moriginine, and a bacteriocide, spirochin, both of which can prove fatal following ingestion. The leaves are eaten as greens, in salads, in vegetable curries, as pickles and for seasoning. They can be pounded up and used for scrubbing utensils and for cleaning walls. Leaves and young branches are relished by livestock. The Bark can be used for tanning and also yields a coarse fiber. The flowers, which must be cooked, are eaten either mixed with other foods or fried in batter and have been shown to be rich in potassium and calcium.

In developing tropical countries, Moringa trees have been used to combat malnutrition, especially among infants and nursing mothers. Three non-governmental organizations in particular - Trees for Life, Church World Service and Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization - advocate Moringa as “natural nutrition for the tropics.” Leaves can be eaten fresh, cooked, or stored as dried powder for many months without refrigeration, and without loss of nutritional value. Moringa is especially promising as a food source in the tropics because the tree is in full leaf at the end of the dry season when other foods are typically scarce. Analyses of the leaf composition have revealed them to have significant quantities of vitamins A, B and C, calcium, iron and protein. According to Optima of Africa, Ltd., a group that has been working with the tree in Tanzania, "25 grams daily of Moringa Leaf Powder will give a child" the following recommended daily allowances:

Protein 42%, Calcium 125%, Magnesium 61%, Potassium 41%, Iron 71%, Vitamin A 272%, and Vitamin C 22%. These numbers are particularly astounding; considering this nutrition is available when other food sources may be scarce.

Scientific research confirms that these humble leaves are a powerhouse of nutritional value. Gram for gram, Moringa leaves contain: SEVEN times the vitamin C in oranges, FOUR times the Calcium in milk, FOUR times the vitamin A in carrots, TWO times the protein in milk and THREE times the Potassium in bananas.

The Moringa tree has great use medicinally both as preventative and treatment. Much of the evidence is anecdotal as there has been little actual scientific research done to support these claims. India's ancient tradition of ayurveda says the leaves of the Moringa tree prevent 300 diseases. One area in which there has been significant scientific research is the reported antibiotic activity of this tree.

This is clearly the area in which the preponderance of evidence - both classical scientific and anecdotal evidence - is overwhelming. The scientific evidence has now been available for over 50 years, although much of it is completely unknown to western scientists. In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s a team from India identified a compound they called pterygospermin. This group was also able to demonstrate its mode of antimicrobial action in the mid 1950’s. Field reports and ecological studies form part of a rich traditional medicine history claiming efficacy of leaf, seed, root, bark, and flowers against a variety of dermal and internal infections. In 1964 other active compounds were isolated and tested in-vitro, and these studies, along with observational studies provide a very plausible mechanism of action for the centuries of claims of efficacy. Unfortunately, because many of the reports of antibiotic efficacy in humans are not supported by placebo controlled, randomized clinical trials, Western medical prejudice leaves the Western world ignorant of Moringa’s antibiotic properties.

Another area of folklore which research supports is in cancer treatment. Moringa species have long been recognized by folk medicine practitioners as having value in the treatment of tumors. Studies examined certain compounds for their cancer preventive potential. Recently two of these compounds were shown to be potent inhibitors of activation of lymphoblastoid (Burkitt’s lymphoma) cells. One of these compounds also inhibited tumors in mice bred to be prone to tumors. In another study, Bharali and colleagues examined skin tumor prevention following ingestion of drumstick (Moringa seedpod) extracts. In this mouse model, which included appropriate positive and negative controls, a dramatic reduction in skin tumors was demonstrated. More rigorous study is required in order to achieve a level of proof required for full medical endorsement of Moringa as, in this case, a cancer preventative plant.

After the oil is extracted from the pods, the seed-cake remaining contains the active components for removing turbidity (solid particles) from water. Because bacteria adhere to the solids, this seed-cake also effectively removes bacteria. At the Thyolo Water Treatment Works in Malawi, Africa, two researchers from the University of Leicester, England, have worked on substituting moringa seeds for alum to remove solids in water for drinking. Not only were the tests successful in removing as much solid material as alum, but the seeds used were "purchased from enthusiastic villagers in Nsanje Region in Malawi" (Folkard and Sutherland, 1996. Not only is Moringa oleifera as effective as aluminum sulphate (alum) in removing suspended solids from turbid water, it has a major advantage. Because it can be produced locally, "using Moringa rather than alum would save foreign exchange and generate farm and employment income." The potential for Moringa to create a new market for a community is there, and studies and projects are taking place examining this potential. Use of this natural substance would also remove a source of aluminum contamination.

This tree is truly a “miracle” tree offering hope; nutritionally, medicinally and economically to devastatingly poor 3rd world countries. It has just recently begun being used as a supplement in a juice form and in powdered leaf tablets.

Sources:

Ramachandran,C., Peter,K.V. and Gopalakrishnan,P.K., 1980, Drumstick (Moringa oleifera): A multipurpose Indian Vegetable. Economic Botany, 34 (3) pp276-283.

http://peacecorps.mtu.edu/resources/studentprojects/moringa.htm

http://www.tfljournal.org/article.php/20051201124931586

Meitzner and Price (Amaranth to Zai Holes: Ideas for Growing Food Under Difficult Conditions, ECHO, 1996),

http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/cv/wedc/papers/20/sessioni/sutherla.pdf
 

gnome

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Unclad Lad

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What are the downsides--is it invasive, or taxing to the soil?
 

damoc

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moringafarms.com is where i got my seeds but did not have a lot of luck with them but i have poor soils and a notorious brown thumb.
but possibly they are not as easy to grow as advertised. following directions i always got them to sprout but could not get them to mature stage

guess i will just have to try again i still have seeds left over
 

gnome

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I got seeds through moringafarms.com as well. I planted 3, and 2 appear to have turned into healthy plants. The third, I planted in a dry patch of sand - may have been dug up by squirrels, or just never germinated. I soaked the seeds overnight and then put them in pots with rich composted soil and waited for sun and water to do their thing. Didn't come up until we had a few hot days in a row.

When the first harvest of seeds comes in, I'll be happy to share or trade seeds, but no idea when that will be. Supposedly moringa is easily propagated by cuttings as well.

Gardenweb.com forums are a great source to find local folks to trade seeds and cuttings with, as well as great local information for your climate zone.
 

Turtleguy

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Aloha All
Here on Oahu, the trees grow like weeds. You have to trim them back or they will take over. I guess the rule here is, where there are filipinos, there you will find the tree.
When I trim the trees in the yard, they come around for the leaves., I never see them taking the pods though.
Turtleguy
 

AMforPM

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I have a hot dry area I think will be perfect for 2. How tall do they get? And how soon do they get big?

I may have room for a third.

I think I will coddle them in pots till they get a little growth.

edit to add:

Thanks guys! I just ordered 30 seeds. I'll start at least 6 and hope to get 3 healthy trees. Thinking about spots available... I might have room for 6. I am relocating my early and late peaches next fall with new young trees out of sight from the street but will use cuttings from the early one because I cannot find anyone who has it. I bought it from a kid selling a few young trees in front of a small town gas station and it has been a magnificent early peach. But my entire former orchard is in the part of the yard that can be seen from the street and that the dog does not patrol. She is so beautiful I have worried she would be dognapped. If the human has goodwill, she is friendly.

But I doubt most people would recognize these trees as food. Also, that nonexistent climate change caused all my zone 8 fruit trees to fail for lack of chill hours. So I can replace the cherry intended for california and the never fruiting pluot and aprium with these trees.

Our figs and peaches prospered well. We have so many figs it is ridiculous. But maps can say what they like, we are currently climate zone 9.

Now if we get sudden global cooling, these trees will be in trouble. But I'm interested in giving them a try.

Oil, seeds, leaves, and water purification plus medicinal. What's not to like?
 
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AMforPM

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On making the oil...

Could you use a cider press? Anyone know?

Oil is one of those hard to grow your own on a small plot necessities. I'm excited at the prospect of growing our own cooking oil.
 

gnome

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AMforPM, they'll get quite tall, but you can crop them aggressively and compost or mulch with the trimmings. They will be pulling minerals from 20 feet down up to the leaves. Put a little rock or cob wall on the north side of the trees as a thermal mass and you can create a microclimate that will stretch your growing zone more than you might think. I think you've seen Sepp Holzer who is growing kiwis and citrus in the austrian alps.

Yes, probably a good stealth food tree in the front yard.

Have read that growing them in pots is less than ideal, as they put down a deep taproot and being bound up can interfere with the optimal development of the taproot.

http://tilz.tearfund.org/Publications/Footsteps+21-30/Footsteps+28/Moringa+oil.htm

Extraction techniques

Moringa seed has a fairly soft kernel, so the oil can be extracted by hand using a screw press (also known as a ‘spindle’ or ‘bridge’ press). The seed is first crushed, 10% by volume of water is added, followed by gentle heating over a low fire for 10–15 minutes, taking care not to burn the seed. One such test yielded 2.6 litres of oil from 11kg of kernels. Once the best processing conditions are worked out, an extraction efficiency of 65% could probably be expected.

Further trials were carried out using a motor-driven screw-type oil expeller from India. During 2 hours of operation 52kg of seed yielded 12.5 litres of cold pressed oil. A further processing of the oil cake yielded a further 10 litres of oil.

Traditional methods of extracting oil from oil seed crops are often slow and not very efficient. They involve extracting the kernels, pounding them and boiling them for 5 minutes in water. After boiling, strain through a cloth into a clean container. Leave overnight to allow the oil to separate from the water. There may be some debris floating on the surface of the oil. Tribesmen in Oman use this technique to extract oil from Moringa peregrina seed with some success. If you don’t have access to a machine, try out this method.

After the oil is extracted, the rather bitter tasting presscake still has all the properties of fresh seed in treating and cleaning water. With a 60% protein content, it may be used as a soil fertiliser and further study is looking at how it could be used as part of animal and poultry feed.
 

gnome

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gnome

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My 2 moringas are now about a foot tall growing well. A few of the lower leaves have turned yellow and fallen off. Maybe I overwatered?
I started a third...soaking the seed for 48 hours then buried an inch deep in potting soil. It germinated quickly and now is putting out leaves and growing quickly. They seem to like the heat of florida summer. So now 3 out of 4 have successfully germinated. The one that didn't make it may have become squirrel food.

Turtleguy...howzit from the Hilo side. Is this the same tree, the one the Filipinos call Kala-mon-guy[ Happy Aloha & furlough Friday
Yes. Anything with a name in so many cultures must be either really useful or a major pest. From wiki:

Names

Other names for Moringa in English include:
"Drumstick tree", from the appearance of the long, slender, triangular seed pods.
"Horseradish tree", from the taste of the leaves, which can serve as a rough substitute for horseradish.
"Ben oil tree", from the oil derived from the seeds
The Chinese name of the Moringa (辣木), pronounced "la mu" in Mandarin and "lat mok" in Cantonese, means "spicy (hot) wood", and is reminiscent of the English name "horseradish tree".
In some Indian-origin languages, the name is phonetically somewhat similar to Moringa, while in others it is quite different.
In Assamese, it is called Sojina.
In Punjabi, it is called Surajana.
In Tamil, the tree is called Murungai Maram (முருங்கை மரம்) and the fruit is called Murungai-kaai (முருங்கைக்காய்).
In Hindi, it is called sahjan.
In Marathi, it is called Shevga.
In Malayalam, it is known as Muringa, and the fruit is called Muringakaya or Muringakka.
In Kannada, it is known as Nuggekayee.
In Tulu, it is known as Noorggaee.
In Telugu, it is known as Munagachettu (మునగచెట్టు), and the fruit is called Munagakaya (మునగకాయ).
In Konkani, it is called Mhasanga Saang.
In Gujarati, it is called Saragvo.
In Oriya, it is called Sajana or Sujuna.
In Bengali, it is called Sojne danta.
In Nepali, it is known as Sajiwan or Swejan.
In Guyana, it is called Sijan
In Hausa language, it is called Zogale
In Sinhalese, it is called Murunga
In Thai, it is called "ma rum มะรุม".
The Tagalog name in the Philippines - Malunggay - is also phonetically similar to "Moringa". In Ilocano, another Filipino language, it is called Marungay. It is called Kamunggay in Bisaya. Malungge in Pampango or Kapampangan.
In Haiti, the Moringa is called the benzolive (or benzolivier).
In Nicaragua, the plant is referred to as Marango.
In Indonesian, the Moringa is called kelor (kalor in Malay).
In Javanese, it is called limaran.
In Mooré (Burkina Faso), it is called "Arzan Tiiga," which means "tree of paradise".
In Zarma (Niger), it is called Windi Bundu which means, loosely, "fencepost wood", a reference to its use as live fencing. The leaves are the primary part eaten, and in fact are so common that the Zarma word "kopto", or "leaf", is synonymous with cooked Moringa leaves.
In Dioula (Côte D'Ivoire), it is called "Arjanayiiri".
In Mauritius, the leaves are called "Brède Mouroum", while the drumstick part is known as "Bâton Mouroum".
In Konkani (Goa) it is called Saang or Maska Saang.
In Myanmar (Burma) it is called "Dandalun". The fruit meat of drum sticks, including young seeds, is good for soup. Young leaves can either be fried with shrimp or added as a topping in fish soup. Dandalun leaves soup is said to increase urination and thus benefit the kidneys. It is widely used in Myanmar traditional medicine.
The MMPND entry for Moringa gives names in many other languages.
 

gnome

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My tallest moringa is about 3.5 feet tall now, decided to pluck off a couple of leaves and try it. Ate it raw, tasted like many garden greens - reminiscent of collards with a hint of sourness like a sorrel. Quite tender and tasty. Definitely worth adding to salads. I won't harvest and cook much until they get bigger, but looking forward to seeing what it tastes like cooked. I now have 3 trees growing and have shared seeds with several friends.
 
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#16
I have a couple of those trees in my yard. I got the seeds from ECHO.

I cooked about a cup of the leaves once and ate them and they gave me the runs. They weren't real tasty either. Win win.

Maybe if I ate them all the time I wouldn't have gotten the runs.