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:  Moringa, also known as the horseradish tree and drumstick tree 

BOTANICAL NAME:  Moringa oleifera 
HABIT:  13 known species from tropical and subtropical climates that range in size from tiny herbs to massive trees. The is the most widely cultivated species . A fast growing tree that can reach 15 feet in one year up to 50 feet.
CULTURE:  Moringa grows best in the hot, semi- arid tropics in a sunny location. It is drought- tolerant and grows with rain falls of 10-60 inches per year. It grows best in altitudes below 2000 feet. Native to parts of Africa and Asia. Will tolerate light frosts, it may shed the leaves at cooler temperatures but will quickly send out new growth when optimal temperatures reach 70 degrees. Prefers well-drained sandy or loam soil, is tolerant of clay soil but not water logging and thrives in a wide range of soil ph, 5-9.

Pruning will increase leaf production, promote further branching, and help it maintain a particular height; otherwise it can grow 50 feet tall! Leaf harvest can begin once the tree is established. Cut each branch back a foot after it has grown 2 feet.
Moringa is best grown from seed since cuttings tend to produce smaller roots systems. Seeds should be planted within two years of harvest. Plant one inch deep in well-draining soil and expect germination in one-two weeks. Moringa prefers the warm weather so propagation is best after April and before November in SWFL.

PROBLEMS:  Moringa is resistant to most pests. Livestock and wild animals will eat  seedlings so take care protect seedlings until the trees are well established.
HARVEST/USES:  Virtually every part of the tree is edible. The pods are similar to string beans but some say they have an asparagus flavor, the leaves are suggestive of spinach, seeds of peanuts, and roots taste similar to horseradish. Seeds, pods, leaves and roots are packed with nutrients. Seeds are known to purify water. Note that seed harvested for water treatment should be during the dry season only; seeds harvesting during wet seasons often fail to work. Use as a fertilizer: Moringa leaves can be composted as green manure and are an excellent source of nutrient for soil building. A leaf extract is known to contain a plant growth hormone. To make the extract, grind fresh Moringa shoots with a bit of water (about 1⁄2 of a 5 gallon bucket of fresh Moringa mixed with a quart of water). Filter the solids out by pouring through a cloth; if the liquid is not enough to pour, simply wrap up in a towel and squeeze out the juice. Dilute1:32 (4oz of juice per gallon of water). Use as a foliar spray 10 days from when plants emerge and 30 days before expected flower. 

Moringa Oil: A mature seed is about 40% oil and is an excellent source for cooking, perfumes, soap making, and lubrication. The oil is slow to become rancid. Extract the oil from fresh seeds by roasting, mashing, and placing in boiling water for five minutes. After straining and sitting over night, the oil will float to the surface. 
Other: Use as a living fence or trellis, firewood, and paper pulp. Use to feed livestock, see Price, 2007 for details. Moringa Powder: Air dry leaves away from sunlight and in a low humidity environment (avoid applying heat which will degrade nutrient potency). When completely dry, grind leaves and thin stems in a coffee bean grinder to make Moringa powder. Store in a paper bag or container with oxygen/moisture absorbers or vacuum seal and freeze for up to 12 months.

MEDICINE AND NUTRITION:  Moringa has antibiotic and fungicidal properties. Herbal applications are common in skin infections using ground up Moringa seeds. Roots are edible in young, trees about 24 inches tall. Grind the root, mix with vinegar and salt, and use in place of horseradish. When grown for roots, can be grown in rows like other vegetables. The flowers can be eaten or used to make a tea. Seed Pods, known as drumsticks, can be used in foods like peas and reportedly have a taste similar to asparagus. Add Moringa’s fern-like leaves in any spinach recipe or use in a sauce as a potherb. Moringa is also delicious in fresh juices and smoothies.
Moringa Smoothie
1 Avocado
1⁄2 c. fresh Moringa leaves
1⁄2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
1⁄2 c. coconut milk

Slow Cooked Meat with Moringa
Cooking times vary so follow pressure cooking or slow cooker instructions.
5 lbs meat (chicken, pork, lamb, or beef) season the meat lightly with Worcestershire sauce. Add 1 tsp each onion and garlic powder, dried parsley, celery seeds, sea salt, and ground pepper. Dice 1 sweet onion and 4 cloves of garlic and add to meat.
Cook the meat with seasonings, onion, and garlic.

When the meat is almost finished cooking, prepare the Moringa Mix:
  • 3 cups fresh Moringa Leaves
  • 2 cups canned palm hearts
  • 12 oz diced tomatoes or 1 cup of freshly chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup sliced cabbage
Toss the above with 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
When meat is finished cooking, turn off the heat (release pressure if pressure cooking), add Moringa mix on top of meat and cover for 5 minutes. Serve with roasted pine nuts and feta cheese.

Doerr, B. (2005). Moringa Water Treatment. ECHO Technical Note. 
Motis, T. N. & Berkelaar, D. R. (2012). Agricultural Options for Small-Scale Farmers.

ECHO, North Ft. Myers, FL.
Price, M. L. (2007). About Moringa.

Educational Concerns for Haiti Organization (ECHO).

Schonwald, J. (2014). Forget Kale: Try these three new Superfoods. Time Magazine October 28, 2014. Moringa-tree-breadfruit-prickly-pear-cactus/
Basic Information above courtesy of Miss Potter’s Place and Deana’s Garden 2016


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