Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tree of Life – Moringa or Drumstick


Top of a Drumstick tree between a Jamun (A black berry) tree and grape vine in author's home


This blog has described many useful trees but it appears that a full article on one of the most useful ones, the drumstick tree, has been missed. It is time to make up this deficiency now, especially during the monsoon season when nature lovers in India are busy in tree plantations. The Moringa or the drumstick tree is a fast-growing, drought resistant tree that is native to the southern foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern India. But it grows easily in semi-arid areas too. It can be grown in forests, home gardens, schools, offices, farms or as street side trees in cities. It is also an ideal choice for forestation programs.  Mixed with other trees such as the white mulberry, other trees from the mulberry family and a few other fruit trees common to the area, it virtually produces a food forest of fruits and leafy vegetables. It can be grown from cutting or seed. It is a lovely tree because of its lush light green fern like foliage. A forest of white mulberry (http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2011/07/godly-hermit-tree-mulberry.html) and drumstick surrounding a human habitation can virtually meet the vegetable needs of an entire community for free. There is an article on the white mulberry as a super food in this blog.

Virtually every part of the tree is edible. The leaves are the most nutritious part of the plant, being a significant source of B, C, K, A vitamins, beta carotene, minerals and protein among other essential nutrients.  As with any other edible tree leaf, the new leaves are the best. The leaves may be cooked and used like spinach and you may wish to try your own recipes to suit your taste. The immature seed pods, called "drumsticks", are commonly consumed cooked in a curry until soft. They also make an excellent pickle too. The seeds of mature pods can be used as peas or roasted like nuts. They contain high levels of vitamin C and moderate amounts of B vitamins plus dietary minerals... In seasons its flowers are delicious too provided they are boiled for a few minutes and drained to remove the strong flavor.

Some persons consume the roots too but these are best avoided since they may contain a harmful toxin. It is the defense of this godly tree from unscrupulous humans who uproot trees rather than plant them. However the tree can be cut down to a few feet from ground if it becomes large for new fresh shoots to come up. Moringa trees have been used to combat malnutrition, especially among infants and nursing mothers in deprived parts of the world. Its leaves can be dried in shade, powdered and added to other foods, even rice or bread, throughout the year to improve nutritional value.

Mature seeds yield 38–40% edible oil called Ben oil. The refined oil is clear and odorless, and resists rancidity. The seed cake remaining after oil extraction may be used as a fertilizer or as a flocculent to purify water. Moringa seed oil also has potential for use as a bio-fuel. When grown on a farm in cultivation, it is often cut back annually to 1–2 meters and allowed to re-grow especially if grown as forage for livestock

What I love about this tree is that it is very easy to grow. Just stick a six to seven feet feet long green branch taken from a large Moringa tree, about a foot deep in soil in warm, wet weather. In a few months new leaves will shoot out and it will grow rapidly from then on so that you have a full fruiting tree in just a couple of years.

UPDATE:  Planting more trees helps the climate as well (http://steamcenter.blogspot.in/2013/07/one-fact-about-climate-change-most.html) besides being a wonderful gift for Mother Earth who nurtures us all. This blog has an article on hemp that grows rapidly too, produces proetein as good as meat in seeds and edible foliage for both humans and animals. That along with the trees described, milk and fat from animals here can meet most all of human food needs aside form carbohydrates that must be obtained for food grains but this last is cheaply available in world now

8 comments:

keiko amano said...

Ashok,

I think this post is educational and informative, and easy to read. May I suggest to include keywords such as edible or fight for hunger, something like that? I'm sure many people have such concern all over the world.

ashok said...

Thanks Keiko. You had suggested a long time ago that I write on this. For sure I shall add those words and then also share with a facebook page on hunger at http://facebook.com/ohmm11

ashok said...

Done, Keiko. Thanks again for the suggestion.

ashok said...

True enough Keiko, the post was attracting hits so I updated it a bit since your comment.

हरि चंद said...

Really informative and useful post. Like humans, plants are also crossing geographic boundaries with accelerated speed, and spread of of such useful plants should be assisted with such information in toe.

ashok said...

Thanks Hari.

Ramakrishnan Ramanathan said...

Interesting that in South we call it Moringa-kai.The applications are many.Is Ben oil produced in India ?

Ashok said...

The name Moringa must have been taken from South India then because this tree was originally native there. Except for small scale extractions out of interest or research, not sure if Ben oil is produced in any major or commercial way in India.