|Binomial name||Moringa oleifera|
Other Common Names:
The other common names for the drumstick are Behen Tree, Behn Tree, Ben Oil Tree, Ben Tree, Ben-Oil-Tree, Benzolive Tree (Usa), Benzolive-Tree, Bridal Veil, Coatli, Drumstick, Drumstick Tree, Drumsticktree, Horse-Radish Tree, Horseradish Tree, Horseradish-Tree, Horseradishtree, Maranga, Moringa and West Indian Ben.
Moringa Oleifera the most nutrient rich plant ever discovered. The Moringa Oleifera plant has a wealth of naturally occuring nutrients including vitamins, minerals, protein, essential amino acids, chlorophyll, 3 oils, and other important phytonutrients.The Moringa plant is native to Northern India, where it was first described around 2000 B.C. as a medicinal herb. The oral tradition of Ayurvedic medicine in India declared that Moringa prevents 300 diseases.
Native to India, Arabia, and possibly Africa and the East Indies; widely cultivated and naturalized in tropical Africa, tropical America, Sri Lanka, India, Mexico, Malabar, Malaysia and the Philippine Islands. Thus the Moringa plant spread eastward form India to the lower parts of China, Southeast Asia and the Philippines. From India it also spread westward to Egypt, the Horn of Africa, around the Mediterranean, and finally to West Indies in America.
Grows best on a dry sandy soil. Drought resistant. It does not tolerate freezes or frost. Thrives in subtropical and tropical climates, flowering and fruiting freely and continuously. Grows best on a dry sandy soil. Drought resistant.
Seeds require little or no pre-treatment prior to germination with viability rates for fresh seeds having been reported to be up to 80% reducing to approximately 50% after 12 months storage. Seeds may be sown directly or in seed beds with transplanting after 2/3 months. The best time of year for sowing is reported to be at the beginning of the wet season. If planted out during the dry season half-shade should be provided and watering should be carried out regularly until the tree is established. Watering every other day has been reported to increase the drought tolerance of the tree. Cuttings are primarily utilised for the establishment of live fences. Branches 1 - 1.5 m in length will take root readily in just a few months. From both seed and cuttings the tree grows at a remarkable rate, 3-4 m growth in a year is not unusual. In addition, first fruits may be expected within 6-12 months of planting out. Depending on the variety, the extent of fertilisation and other factors, a single tree may produce between 400 and 1000 pods annually. Pollarding or pruning following harvesting is recommended to promote branching, increase pod production and facilitate harvesting. The use of fertiliser and regular irrigation is not essential and is seldom practiced outside of India, however, manuring prior to the rainy season is said to increase yields three-fold.
All parts of the plant and seed oil
are commonly used for its commercial and medicinal purposes.
The white flowers of the drumstick are in bloom from April through May.
Pests and Diseases
Fruitflies (Gitona spp.) have infested the fruits which then dried out at the tip and rotted. Leaves of young plants and freshly planted stumps are attacked by several species of weevils. Also parasitized by the flowering plant, Dendrophthoe flacata.
The flowers, leaves, and roots are used in folk remedies for tumours, the seed for abdominal tumours.
• The root decoction is used for dropsy.
• Root juice is applied externally as rubefacient or counter-irritant.
• Leaves applied as poultice to sores, rubbed on the temples for headaches, and said to have purgative properties.
• Bark, leaves and roots are acrid and pungent, and are taken to promote digestion.
• Oil is applied externally for skin diseases.
• Bark regarded as antiscorbic, and exudes a reddish gum with properties of tragacanth; sometimes used for diarrhea.
• Roots are bitter, act as a tonic to the body and lungs, and are emmenagogue, expectorant, mild diuretic and stimulant in paralytic afflictions, epilepsy and hysteria.
• The other most common use of its hormonal property, except insulin and thyroid-like property is as emmenagogue and abortifacient.
• Foliage eaten as greens, in salads, in vegetable curries, as pickles and for seasoning.
• Leaves pounded up and used for scrubbing utensils and for cleaning walls.
• Seeds yield 38-40% of a non-drying oil, known as Ben Oil, used in arts and for lubricating watches and other delicate machinery.
• Oil is clear, sweet and odourless, never becoming rancid; consequently it is edible and useful in the manufacture of perfumes and hairdressings.
• Wood yields blue dye.
• Leaves and young branches are relished by livestock.
• Bark can serve for tanning; it also yields a coarse fiber.
Commonly planted in Africa as a living fence (Hausa) tree. Trees planted on graves are believed to keep away hyenas and its branches are used as charms against witchcraft. Ancient Egyptians treasured Moringa oil as protection for their skin from the ravages of desert weather. Later, the Greeks found many healthful uses for Moringa and introduced it to the Romans. On the island of Jamaica in 1817, a petition concerning Moringa oil was presented to the Jamaican House of Assembly.It described the oil as being useful for salads and culinary purposes, and being equal to the best Florence oil as an illuminant--giving clear light without smoke.
The leaves and pods were likewise used in local recipes. Dried leaf powder from the Moringa oleifera is an excellent nutrient source and can easily supplement basic food intake of African people. The West African Moringa oleifera tree is regarded as a tree of life by some because it is arguably the most nutritious source of plant-derived food discovered on the planet, with the belief by modern scientists and some missionary groups that this plant could be a possible solution for the treatment of sever malnutrition and an aid for those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
Tribes such as the Mahali, Ho, and Shabar, observe similar seasonal restrictions on the use of various species and vegetables. Among the Hindus drumstick (Moringa oleifera) fruits are not consumed after the Charak festival in mid April. The Moringa plant spread eastward form India to the lower parts of China, Southeast Asia and the Philippines. From India it also spread westward to Egypt, the Horn of Africa, around the Mediterranean, and finally to West Indies in America.