Moringa oleifera, also known as the drumstick tree or horseradish tree, originates from the Himalaya-region in northwest India, but is now also cultivated in various countries across Asia, South America, Africa and in the Caribbean. It is a fast growing tree widely appreciated for it’s high nutritional value, believed to be the highest of any plant in the world. The fact that it’s so highly nutritious and able to grow in relatively dry conditions have moved it into the focus of several countries, formulating their development strategies around this amazing plant. A process africrops! and its employees have been supporting and getting increasingly involved in.
Moringa oleifera is a plant with many uses. It’s not only the highly nutritious leaves which can be utilised. One of the first people to appreciate the plant, where English colonisers in India, who valued the roots of the plant for its spicy flavour, reminiscent of horseradish. A reason why it is still widely referred to as the horseradish tree today.
Apart from the leaves the most used part of the plant are the seeds, which can be found in the long, drumstick-like pods, which gave the tree its name as the “drumstick tree”. The seeds can be eaten raw, tasting sweet at first and turning bitter as one chews and has a range of nutritional benefits of its own and are ascribed strong detoxifying properties. When grinding up the seeds, this property can even be used to clean polluted water and make it drinkable again, simply by letting it sit in the same water. The seeds are very popular due to the high-quality oil (ben-oil) which can be gained by pressing them. This oil is completely without a smell of its own and never coagulates. These properties used to be highly valued in the production of perfumes and for the greasing of fine machinery, such as mechanical watches, but it has now been mostly replaced by artificial alternatives. Ben-oil has however nowadays been rediscovered for new uses. It is very popular as a hypo-allergenic skin and hair care product, as well as massage oil, due to its many vitamins (including vitamin E) and antioxidants. It’s mild and slightly nutty taste have also made it very popular for cooking, in particular for making salad dressing.
Another part of the Moringa oleifera plant which can be used are the leaves. While they are not as nutrient-rich as the leaves or the seeds, they still contain various nutrients. This, as well as its cucumber-reminiscent taste and smell, make this part of the plant very popular for teas. As its taste is very mild it is also great to mix with other teas.