Moringa seems too good to be true: a fast-growing, drought-tolerant tree whose leaves, flowers, pods and seeds are not only edible but also highly nutritious. Mark Olson, a professor of evolutionary biology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico describes the Moringa Tree as “uniquely suited to feeding poor and undernourished populations of the dryland tropics, especially in the era of climate change.” In an article by Amanda Little for the New Yorker, she describes Jed Fahey and Mark Olson’s collaboration. “Jed Fahey, a biochemist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who has collaborated with Olson on Moringa research for more than a decade, has found that the tree’s leaves and pods have strong anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties, and may also contain enzymes that protect against cancer. Mature Moringa seeds can be pressed for vegetable oil, and the seed cake that is left over can be used to purify drinking water. (It contains a protein that makes bacteria glom together and die.) When dried, crushed seeds can also serve as a good fertilizer.”
Called malongay by some gardeners, the plant (botanical name Moringa oleifera) has more potassium than bananas, more protein than sardines, more beta carotene than carrots. Some also believe that Moringa may help to control hypertension, fight bacteria and parasites. The seeds can have a Viagra-like effect – but for women too. More important to gardeners, Moringa is a nitrogen-fixer in the soil.
Franciscan priests brought Moringa oleifera to Loreto, Baja California Sur, in the early 1500’s. It has grown there ever since and is now found in all areas of the Baja. I was initially introduced to it by a vendor from the Palmilla Farmer’s Market who called it “The Tree of Life”. Just recently, I was re-introduced to it at Rukhsana’s Heavenly Wellness Retreat where it grows alongside all of her amazing flowers, herbs and vegetables.
There are many reasons to grow Moringa, even if just a single tree, because it is rich in minerals, vitamins, essential amino acids, phytochemicals, vegetable proteins, anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, and carbohydrates.
Moringa is a resilient tree. It can survive in a variety of climates and substandard soils. It is as fast-growing as it is hearty. Normal growth ranges from 3-5 meters per year if left uncropped. It is one of the fastest growing biomasses on the planet when properly nourished. A fully mature Moringa Tree can grow to 35 feet.
Moringa is an ideal plant to start indoors or in your own backyard. Once mature, fresh Moringa, leaves from your tree make a delicious addition to your salad. The leaves are also great for making tea, as well as an ingredient in a variety of chicken, meat and vegetable dishes. I especially like the seeds which I eat every morning to start my day.
In case you are lucky enough to find you have a Moringa tree growing in your back garden, or happen across one (like it did), take advantage of its amazing properties.
New Yorker – An Overqualified – Underachieving Superfood http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/meet-the-moringa-tree-an-overqualified-underachieving-superfood