Moringa oleifera the scientific name of the drumstick tree is a tree with a million uses. Originally from the Indian sub continent. All parts of the plant are edible, the leaves being exceptionally nutritious. The leaflets are stripped off the leaf and can be eaten raw in salads or cooked, steamed or stir fried. The Moringa seeds yield 28-40% edible oil. The flowers are also eaten. The roots can be harvested to prepare a condiment with a horseradish taste, however, the root bark should be stripped off and not too much eaten.
Moringa is one of the most powerful health-enhancing plants. While many things found in Nature can have one or two health benefits, Moringa has many. India’s ancient tradition of Ayurveda medicine sites 300 diseases that are treated with the leaves of the Moringa tree. Recent scientific research has proven that these humble leaves are in fact a powerhouse of nutritional value.
Structure of the tree
Horseradish tree, also called drumstick tree, (Moringa oleifera), small, deciduous tree, of the family Moringaceae, native to tropical Asia but also naturalized in Africa and tropical America. Horseradish trees can reach a height of about 9 meters (30 feet); they have corky gray bark, much-divided, fernlike leaves, and scented clusters of white pea-like flowers. The angled dagger-like fruits sometimes grow to 45 cm (18 inches) long. Flowers, pods, leaves, and even twigs are cooked and eaten.
Several times per year the beautiful Moringa flowers can be seen: barely 2.5 cm (less than 1 inch) across, the white petals and yellowish sepals form a vertical line of symmetry, bending gracefully to offer up its anthers and stigma to bees and other pollinators. The flowers are clumped in panicles and when the pod-like fruit develops, the tree’s branches droop under the weight of the heavy clusters. About 9 seeds develop in each elongated fruit; when the capsule dries and splits the seeds are dispersed in the wind, assisted in their travels by their three-cornered winged structure
Sunlight: The Moringa tree requires full sunlight, i.e. direct exposure to the sun for around 6-8 hours a day.
Water: It is actually a drought resistant tree, and only needs to be watered sparingly, once the soil has completely dried out.
Sowing Season: As it is a warm season plant, the drumstick tree is usually planted after the end of the cool season.
Sowing Method: The seeds should be planted in an area with light, dry soil, and placed in holes dug 30cm (1ft) deep and 30cm wide. The holes can be filled in with loose soil, and/or compost or manure to help the tree grow. In each hole plant 3-5 seeds at a distance of 5cm (2in) apart, and water the soil, such that the top soil remains moist. The plant will germinate within 12 days.
Care: When the saplings grow to around 15cm (6in) tall, then in each plot, keep the healthiest one, and pull out the rest, as they can be susceptible to various pests. A layer of compost or manure should be applied to the soil, to promote growth. Take care not to over-water your plants, as the soil should be kept dry so as not to choke the roots.
Pests: Some common pests are termites and nematodes, which generally infest when the tree is in its sapling stage. This can be prevented by spraying an insecticide or by regular inspection and crop rotation.
Harvest: Generally the plants flower and bear fruit either once or twice a year. In South India, the plant is known to give fruit once in July-September, and again in April-May. In the first year of the plant, the yield is usually around 150 pods, which keeps increasing as the years go on. After 4-5 years, the tree usually yields around 1000 pods.
Propagation: The drumstick tree can be propagated by seeds, or by cuttings. In the latter, the branches of an existing tree are cut and then placed on the ground. The size of the branches should be around 1m long, and 4cm in diameter. It should be completely planted underground and watered regularly. The yield from the cutting method of propagation is just as much from seeds and is also common due to the relative ease of planting the cuttings, as compared to seeds.
Health benefits of this tree
Moringa leaves are a rich source of many nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Vitamin E. In fact, they have many more vitamins than the richest sources such as carrots, oranges and milk. They can be cooked and eaten in many ways. They can be consumed as juice, vegetable, oil, etc.
Moringa leaf contains iron, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. This helps to cure minor injuries like bruises, cuts, and burns. It also helps in quick healing of injuries.
Moringa leaves have Ayurvedic properties. It is a traditional medicine which is given to nursing mothers to help to increase lactation or milk production.
Antioxidants play a vital role in maintaining healthy cells in our body. These can reduce the risk of cancer and slow down the aging process. Moringa leaves contain about 30 antioxidants that promote healthy skin. The leaves can be included in your diet to stimulate metabolism and trigger weight loss.
These leaves are also beneficial for the hair and scalp as it has many vitamins and minerals. They can be used to cleanse the hair and scalp, prevent hair damage, dandruff, dry and lifeless hair. These also increase blood circulation of the scalp and boost hair growth. As the blood circulation increases, hair follicles get more nutrients, leading to strong and healthy hair.
5. Excellent for Healthy Glowing Skin
Moringa leaves are a powerhouse of nutrients. The leaves of drumstick tree have diverse range of health benefits. The leaves of this tree are packed with nutrients. The leaves of drumstick are an excellent source of Vitamin B, Vitamin C, and provitamin A, vitamin K, beta-carotene, vitamin K protein and manganese aside from other major essential nutrients. In many Asian countries, women consume Drumstick leaves for healthy glowing skin and hair strengthening. Also, Moringa leaves have natural blood-purifying properties thereby helping in acne reduction.
6. Aids Digestion
Drumstick leaves are a good source of B-complex vitamins such as folic acid, pyridoxine, and riboflavin. These play a vital role food digestion. The vitamins present in drumstick leaves are known to regulate the digestive process by aiding the breakdown of complex fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
7. Excellent Nutritional Value
Moringa leaves are a significant source of calcium. A 100 gram serving of cooked drumstick leaves is excellent all-round nutritional value. Moringa leaves can be cooked in the same way spinach is. Also, moringa leaves are dried and crushed to use as flakes or powder in soups, stews, and sap
8. Promote weight loss
People taking Moringa leaf extract and leaf powder often report weight loss. This beneficial effect could be due to many factors. The anti-inflammatory and diuretic effect helps reduce water retention. The high fiber content reduces fat absorption in the gut. The reduction in insulin resistance may prevent excess fat accumulation.
Calcium 435 Mg
Phosphorus 70 Mg
Iron 7 Mg
Water content 76%
Fat 1.6 %
Vitamin C 220 Mg
B Complex less
Fresh pods and seeds are an excellent source of oleic acid, a health-benefiting monounsaturated fat. Moringa, as a high-quality oilseed crop, can be grown alternatively to improve nutrition levels of populations in many drought-prone regions of Africa and Asia.
Fresh moringa (drumstick) pods and leaves are an excellent sources of vitamin-C. 100 g of pods contain 145 µg or 235% of daily required levels of vitamin-C. 100 g of greens provide 51.7 µg or 86% of daily-recommended intake values of this vitamin. Research studies have shown that consumption of fruits/vegetables rich in vitamin C helps the body develop immunity to combat infectious agents, and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals from the body.
Due to its anti-inflammatory property, pods are traditionally used to treat stomach ulcers.
2.Treats Cold & Flu
Seeds are rich in Vitamin C, and therefore it finds its application in the form of soup to treat cold and flu.
3 Supports Healthy Bones
It is a good source of iron, vitamins, and calcium and thus helps us to have strong and healthy bones. Pregnant women are recommended to use green pods as a soup or juice to avoid post-delivery problems.
4 Anti-Bacterial Properties
Due to its anti-bacterial qualities, it is also helpful in dealing with throat, skin and chest infection.
5. Help fight various types of cancers
The anti-cancer arsenal of moringa is impressive. Besides antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E, it contains kaempferol, quercetin, and rhamnetin. Since cancerous growths are triggered by free radical damage at the cellular level, it is not surprising that Moringa should have an anti-cancer effect. Lab tests have proven that it has a beneficial action against liver, lung, ovarian and skin cancers.
1. A natural Health Tonic for UTI
Extracts of Moringa flowers are used in herbal creams to reduce inflammation and soothe sore muscles. Moringa flower extracts are also used to make perfumes and hair oils. The aromatic flowers are used in aromatherapy sessions at spas. In many cultures, Moringa flowers are brewed to make a medicinal tea decoction or consumed as a health tonic to treat urinary tract infections. Because of its high nutritional value, vegetables made with flowers of moringa are consumed by breastfeeding women to increase milk flow.
2. Helps in Weight Loss
Moringa flowers are also recommended in weight loss diets because of the presence of a powerful diuretic that helps reduce water retention and bloating. Furthermore, individuals that are required to take antibiotics and painkillers as medication and treatment should consume moringa flowers as a vegetable as it protects against tissue damage caused by prescription drugs.
3. Enhances Sexual Pleasure
Moringa flowers are also used as an alternative treatment for sexual dysfunctions, low libido, lack of sexual urge, and impotence. In many Asian countries, men like to consume drumsticks as it is known to enhance sexual pleasure.
- Juice of Drum stick when mixed in milk and offered to children greatly helps by strengthening their bones as it is said to be a great source of Calcium. Also, the drumstick is said to be a great blood purifier.
- Pregnant women should often eat drumsticks as it helps ease any kind of pre and post delivery complication.
- Drumstick soup helps ease any kind of chest congestions, coughs, and sore throats.
- Inhaling steam of water in which drumsticks have been boiled helps ease asthma and other lung problem.
- Finally, drumstick juice greatly adds to the glow on one’s face. Make a mixture of drumstick and lime juice and dab it on your face. You will find your face glowing greatly.
Pests and diseases of drumstick tree
B. Sap feeders
C. Flower-bud, flower and fruit feeders