The Moringa is a very special tree that has been used for many healing remedies throughout time. Packed with vitamins and minerals, the seeds and leaves are a beneficial source of daily nutrition. The seeds also have cleansing properties to purify water. This miracle plant could bring positive, drastic change to the world or your own family.
There are 13 species in the Moringaceae tree family. They tend to grow best in hot, dry lands , yet can survive in fairly moist climates as well. They thrive in aerated soil and suffocate in compacted or swampy ground. As they mature their trunks can retain water for long amounts of time and have been known to withstand droughts. Even though they are pretty resilient, Moringas are still susceptible to drowning or drying out, especially in the beginning stages.
Moringa Oleifera is the most common type found in warmer countries around the world. Their leaves and seeds are slightly rounder and smaller than that of the Moringa Stenopetala tree. The seeds grow in long skinny pods, are dark brown in colour with white frilly edges, and have a strong flavour. The leaves are edible after about one month from planting. The seeds can be consumed at various stages of maturity and ground into nutritious moringa powder supplements for health. The Oleifera tree grows much faster and produces fruit more quickly than the Stenopetala. Both types grow between 3-4 m, so it is recommended to prune them on a regular basis to keep the height at an average of 1.5 m for harvesting.
Moringa Stenopetala goes by multiple nicknames such as ’Mother’s Helper’, ’The Cabbage Tree’, ’Malawi’, and ’The Ethiopian Horseradish Tree’. Cultivated in southern Ethiopia and the northern parts of Kenya this deciduous tree grows best at altitudes of 900-1,200 m. The optimal conditions for a mature tree are dry ground, direct sunlight, 25-35 degrees Celsius, and 25 liters of water every 3-4 days. However, these trees are great survivors and still do well in moist ground, shaded areas, temperatures around 15-48 degrees Celsius, yearly rainfall of 200-2,800 mm, and at heights of 2,000 m.
Both the seeds and leaves of the Stenopetala display an elegant almond shape and are larger than the leaves and seeds of the Oleifera, yet the taste is very similar. The trunks of the tree tend to grow 2-3 times bigger than the Oleifera tree. Young flower buds and seed pods, seeds, leaves, and even the delicate white and yellow flowers are safe to consume, or they can be used for animal fodder. The start of the harvest period is much longer than that of the Oleifera tree. The leaves become edible after only a few weeks, but blossoms come within about two years, if the tree has been growing in proper conditions. The leaves and seeds can be cooked like vegetables. If consumed raw they may be harmful and could cause goitre, as the leaves have goitrogenic factor and glucosinolates. The bark and pruned branches become mulch, paper, and firewood. A very helpful trait of the Moringa Stenopetala, is the fact that it is more naturally resistant to insects and pests than the other species of Moringa. A single tree can produce about 6 kg of fruit per year. Once the tree reaches full maturity it can be harvested year round.
A plethora of purposes come from the Moringa Stenopetala tree. Water purification, daily nourishment, and medicinal uses are the three primary ways these trees are helpful. Moringa flowers can also be eaten. The seeds contain cationic polyelectrolytes which is a protein that serves as a flocculent in water purification. Crushed seeds can be added to the muddiest water and the solid matter and some bacteria will coagulate and sink to the bottom. Then the cleaned water can be removed and boiled. Over 90% of impurities, such as heavy metals, bacteria, and waterborne viruses, can be removed and provide clean drinking water.
For daily cooking and nutrition, the seeds can also be crushed to be used as a coagulant, like alum. For mothers and infants the seeds act as a boost in nourishment since they increase the mother’s milk supply. The seeds and leaves can be cooked to give your family a healthy portion of vitamin A and C, phosphorous, calcium, and iron.
Before preparing the seeds and leaves of the Stenopetala for medicinal uses, be sure to carefully research, and/or consult a trained physician in natural medicine. Once prepared with proper care, the Moringa Stenopetala leaves can be remedies for hypertension, retained placenta, leprosy, diarrhoea, labour pains, asthma, salmonella typhi, lower blood glucose, and so much more. The bark can be chewed, or be made into a hearty soup, for coughs. Inhaling the smoke of the roots can cure epilepsy. The leaves and roots are a solid treatment for malaria, diabetes, and stomach conditions.
In addition to all of these benefits, the Moringa Stenopetala has been used in home gardens as a windbreaker, shade, a hedge or fence, a bee plant, and erosion control. The oil extracted from the seeds can make perfumes, soaps, or lubricants. All of the above can become a great source of income and support a family or a whole community. 20-50 trees can support a large family of 10-15 members. The diversity, health benefits, and income possibilities make this tree ideal for daily needs in raising a family or even a small village.