Also known as the Drumstick or Horseradish Tree, Moringa oleifera is one of the world's most useful plants. Native to India, it is cultivated for its leaves, fruits, flowers and roots for a variety of medicinal and nutritional purposes and also grown as an ornamental. Its seeds are used for water purification. The leaves young pods, seeds and roots are edible. The seeds contain an edible oil. It is called the horseradish tree because it contains mustard oils that give it a horseradish-like flavor. It is also a very ornamental tree and it has a fast growth rate. The leaves are large, light green and fern-like in appearance. White, pea-like flowers are produced in small clusters on long stalks. The flowers have a very pleasant fragrance. The fruits are long, 3-angled light brown pods. The pods have a number of large, 3-winged brown seeds.
Moringa leaves are rich in minerals, vitamins, essential amino acids, phytochemicals, vegetable proteins, anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, and carbohydrates. Moringa leaves can have three times the potassium you would find in a banana, four times the vitamin A found in a carrot, and seven times the vitamin C found in an orange. Moringa is a resilient tree. It can survive in a variety of climates and substandard soils. It is as fast growing as it is hearty. Normal growth ranges from 3-5 meters per year if left uncropped. It is one of the fastest growing biomasses on the planet when properly nourished. A mature tree can tolerate mild frosts. Highly drought resistant. Up to 35 feet in height. Moringa is an ideal plant to start indoors or, depending on where you live, or in your own backyard. Once mature, fresh Moringa, leaves from your tree make a delicious addition to your salad. The leaves are also great for making tea, as well as an ingredient in a variety of chicken, meat and vegetable dishes.
- Soak the seed in water for several hours.
- Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite.
- Put the mixture in a pot with drainage holes in the base.
- Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet.
- Put the seeds on the soil.
- Cover the seeds with a layer of soil ¾” thick.
- Water the seeds and keep the soil moist but not wet.
- Place the pots in an area with warm temperatures in full sun or part shade. They take about 2 weeks to germinate.
- When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.