This is your total guide to Moringa, and why you really should grow the Miracle tree or Drumstick Vegetable!
Moringa (also often spelled Morninga) is described as the new kale, for good reason. It is very rich in vitamins, minerals, highly-digestible proteins, and phytochemicals. It may not be all that much better in nutrition than other leafy greens like Spinach, but it will grow where other vegetables won’t. And besides, can Spinach claim it purifies water? I think not.
Moringa Trees are incredibly fast growing and productive, and will grow in the dry tropics and arid regions of the world; areas where there can be a lack of nutritious foods that grow well. Moringa leaves can also be dried and retain most of their nutrition, so it can be stored for a long time.
Moringa, the Miracle Tree
Every part of the Moringa tree is beneficial for humans and animals, which is why it’s often called the Miracle Tree. You can use the leaves, roots, bark, seeds, and seed cake for a wide range of applications; from food to medicinal purposes and water purification.
The names ‘Drumstick Plant’ or ‘Drumstick Vegetable’ come from its seedpods, which are very much like drumsticks. They are green when young and mature to brown, then grow up to 12″ long!
The name ‘Horseradish Tree’ comes from the flavor of the roots. Peeled roots can be used as a substitute for horseradish. As mentioned above, it is also sometimes spelled ‘Morninga’ tree.
What does the Miracle Tree look like?
The Miracle Tree is a perennial tree and grows 6-10m tall. It is well-suited to being a shade tree in your backyard, with delicate foliage, drooping branches, and lovely pale yellow flowers. You can prune it if you need a shorter tree or if you are growing an edible hedge, to as short as 2m.
“Moringa-oleifera_3220Esther-Honolulu_Cutler_20190105_085806” by wlcutler is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
It is deciduous, with swollen underground rootstock that tastes similar to horseradish. It produces long seed pods that can grow up to 12” long. Each pod looks like a drumstick and contains numerous (around 20) wing-edged seeds. The pods start off green and mature to brown. Once they are fully ripe, they split open and spill the seeds.
Miracle Tree trunks can grow 4-18” wide (possibly even bigger) and it has a lovely umbrella-shaped crown, which makes it so suited to being a shade tree.
Miracle Tree flowers are white to cream, about 2.5cm wide, and have a beautiful fragrance. It can flower throughout the year. Moringa is one of the fastest growing trees I’ve even seen. Growth of 9-12 ft per year aren’t uncommon and trees grown from seed can start flowering after only 2 years. Trees grown from cuttings can fruit even quicker, sometimes after only 6 months!
Being deciduous, it will lose its leaves in the colder months, and possible in times of drought as well. After this, new flushes of growth will appear, often at the same time as flowers.
Moringa oleifera does not need friends for pollination. It bears bisexual flowers, and pollination is helped along by animals, like bees and birds. A single tree can give you up to 400 fruits a year, and this rate may go up to 1000 once your Moringa has settle in and starts to mature!
As I mentioned above, each fruit contains up to 20 seeds, so that potentially gives you the amazing amount of 20000 seeds per year, per tree. Not difficult to start your own Moringa plantation… Especially considering the seeds are highly viable and easy to germinate.
How to Grow Moringa Tree
Where Does the Drumstick Vegetable grow?
The Drumstick Vegetable prefers subtropical and tropical climates. If you are in a cooler climate, you can grow it in a container instead, and bring it indoors in winter, or put it in a warmer position. It grows well in the garden in southern Florida, Arizona, California, and Texas.
You can also try growing it in other states in a peasant garden or food forest. This system of growing enables you to grow plants that wouldn’t normally be suited to your climate. Having them growing close to each other creates a micro-climate and it enables you to grow plants like bananas in temperate or cold climates!
The Drumstick Vegetable grows best in temperatures between 77F and 95F (25C-35C). It will tolerate hotter temperatures, as long as it has shady protection from the hottest midday sun. Once it is established, it will actually handle a little bit of frost, particularly if it has protection from its friends!
If you want to grow the Drumstick Vegetable in the mountains, it prefers growing below 2000’ (600m), but is has been seen growing as high as 3900’ (1200m) in the tropics!
Best Position for Your Drumstick Plant
You will most likely find that the Drumstick Plant is one of your easiest vegetables to grow. It won’t mind a full sun position. It doesn’t mind shade. It won’t mind hot, blasting sun (within reason) as long as it has some protection from the hottest midday sun, and adequate water.
Just remember that the more sun the position receives, the more frequently you’ll need to water it. Cover it thickly in mulch (keep the mulch away from the trunk to prevent rot) to assist in keeping the soil healthy.
Drumsticks Vegetable Soil
The Drumsticks Vegetable is incredibly adaptable. It will grow even when other plants have died due to drought. Despite it being able to grow in dry, sandy soil, it prefers semi-regular watering. Avoid heavy soils or improve them first with applications of gypsum or lime for clay soils, or add lots of sand, organic matter and mulch.
Make sure the soil is well draining. The Drumsticks Vegetable does not appreciate wet, water-logged roots!
How To Prune Moringa
There is no special trick to know about pruning Moringa trees. You can actually not prune it at all, if you prefer. Left unpruned, it will grow to around 10m tall. Most people prefer to prune them so the nutritious leaves are easier to harvest.
Pruning can also encourage leaf growth, giving you more harvest to eat. My favorite ways of growing the Miracle Tree are as a Miracle hedge and as a shade tree. If you can get it big enough so cattle and horses can’t reach the foliage, it is a great tree for the paddock. If drought strikes, you can get on a ladder and prune it so all the leaves fall on the ground. Your animals will love it!
It doesn’t get much better than Moringa for a useful hedge. It doesn’t mind being pruned, it’s nice and bushy, and you can leave the prunings on the ground as green mulch, or eat them of course! Other than that, let the chickens scrabble underneath to pick at the cuttings, they love the foliage as much as we do.
How To Fertilize the Miracle Tree
- Fortnightly applications of seaweed solution to help it stay resilient, or a fish and seaweed combination, like Neptune’s Harvest.
- Monthly to bimonthly applications of granular organic fertilizer. (Bone Meal, Papa’s Perfect Poop, Wiggle Worm Soil Builder, etc.)
- A foliar fertilizer fortnightly or monthly with trace elements. Something like Urban Farm’s Fertilizer. Don’t use this foliar fertilizer in combination with the fish and seaweed product, unless it doesn’t have NPK in it. Seaweed solution, for example, does not have an NPK ratio, so it is fine to use with Urban Farm. Neptune’s Harvest has NPK in it, so you wouldn’t use Urban Farm as well. I recommend you choose one or the other.
How Far to Space Them Apart?
I don’t space my Miracle Trees at all. But then again, I don’t space any of my plants. I’m the biggest fan of peasant gardens, and that means a great, wild jungle of edibles. Miracles Trees will grow fine close together. They will grow fine all on their lonesome.
But say, you wanted to start a picture-perfect commercial Moringa plantation. OK, let’s follow the guidelines from a study conducted in Nicaragua.
- With water and fertilizer: Spacing of 4”x4”. Harvest every 35 days. They divided the field into 35 parts, and planted one part a day for 35 consective days. Then, you can harvest daily on a monthly cycle.
- Without water and fertilizer: Spacing of 16” between rows and 2” between plants. Harvest every 2 months, leaving at least 25cm of growth left on the plant.
Note that Moringa has been flagged as potentially invasive in tropical regions. It is naturalised and considered a minor weed in North Queensland and North Western Australia.
Here is a fantastic video by Jed Fahey on opportunities for Moringa agroforestry and medicinal plant development.
Growing Moringa in Containers/Indoors
Because it is such a forgiving plant, it’s not hard to grow Moringa in containers. Soil in containers can dry out easily, so you will need to water them more regularly than your Moringa plants in the garden. The size of the pot depends on the size of the plant. I recommend:
- For planting seeds: 4” container.
Try and use extra tall (deep) pots as Moringa grows deep roots (as you can imagine from such a drought hardy plant). We use a 4” container called a ‘super saver’, which is designed to save space by going up rather than sideways. It is one of my favorite container sizes for seedlings.
These types of tall containers are often used for fruit trees or other plants with big tap roots. They are prone to falling over, though, so put them together in a tray or secure them some other way.
- Potting-on once you see 1 or 2 roots peeping out the bottom: 7” or 8” container.
- Once you see roots coming out: pot on to a bigger container of your choosing. Just make sure that you can still lift or move it if you are planning to bring it inside in winter.
Please be very careful when repotting! From experience, Moringa roots are FRAGILE and they break easily! It won’t kill them, usually, but it doesn’t help either.
Don’t pot a small tree straight into a big pot. You’ll get an extremely fragile root system that has no chance of holding itself up once you plant it out into the garden. It’s best to gradually go up in size so it grows a nice, tight, resilient root system. Make sure you use a high-quality potting mix or make your own. Make sure it is well-draining and has enough substance to hold the tree up securely. Add some sand for extra drainage if needed, like a mixture with 3 parts soil and 1 part sand.
Given the change, Moringa will grow straight into the ground. Keep them on concrete or a saucer to stop it growing into the ground, so you don’t have to pull it out and break the roots! To get a good harvest and keep it at a manageable size, you can prune it as often as you like. After harvest is the best time to prune.
How to Plant Moringa Seeds and How to Germinate
Moringa seeds are easy to grow and germinate. Make sure you buy them from a reputable source and as fresh as possible. The seeds will last up to 2 years if you store them in a dark place (not in the fridge, they do NOT have a dormancy period!), but you’ll get better germination rates if you plant them as fresh as possible.
- Soak your Moringa seeds overnight before planting them. I soak most seeds before planting, because it greatly increases germination rates and they germinate quicker as well. The water penetrates the seed and wakes it up, much faster than just planting it in soil.
- Once they are soaked, plant them in 4” tall pots, as described above. I have planted Moringa seeds in seedling pots as well, but found that they grow too fast for small pots. Bigger pots also have a bigger margin for error when it comes to watering and fertilizing.
- Seed shouldn’t be planted very deep, only about 1/2 an inch, or the size of your thumbnail.
- Termites and nematodes are problems for Moringa seeds and seedlings; keep them protected if you have these pests.
- You can plant seeds straight into the ground as well, which I will try once my next lot of seeds arrive. Make sure the soil is fairly loose, or dig a big hole and re-fill with potting mix to give the seed a good start to life. Then, make sure you mark the spot well and if you have any animals that eat seeds, keep it protected.
Germinate Moringa seeds year-round in a greenhouse, or the warmer months outdoors. They can germinate extremely quickly for such a big seed; most of mine germinated in 7-8 days, with the last one germinating after 10 days. The first seedlings reached 5” 11 days after planting the seed!
How to Grow the Drumstick Plant from Cuttings
Like seed, the Drumstick Plant is easy to grow from cuttings. The best time for cuttings is once your tree has stopped producing fruits (the big pods). If you prune your Drumstick plant, this is a good time for cuttings, since you’re cutting it anyway.
If you don’t prune, no worries, just take your cuttings once they have finished fruiting. Make sure your cuttings are at least 1” in diameter. Bigger is better with Drumsticks, so if you can get a 6 foot cutting, that’s great! Most of us can’t get a cutting that size, so just get one as big as possible, at least 12”.
You can plant your cutting straight into the ground, in a deep, prepared hole (see above). Pack the soil really firmly around the cutting, we do NOT want it moving as little roots will break every time it moves. Water it in well.
Cuttings will grow fine in pots as well. Make sure your pot is suitable for the size of your cutting and is capable of holding it up. Obviously, a 6 foot cutting will need a bigger pot to hold it up than a 12” cutting! And sand to your potting mix to give it some weight and help it drain.
If you want to, you can also stand the cutting in water for a week, some people have had success with this method.
Planting the Miracle Tree in the Garden
Follow the instruction for soil above. Dig a big hole, at least 1 foot by 1 foot, but of course this depends on the size of the tree you are planting. Make sure it is well-draining by filling the holes with water the day before planting. If the water drains well, it is suitable for your Moringa. If the water just sits there, it needs work. Dig in sand, gypsum or lime, organic matter, etc. If your soil doesn’t drain, don’t plant a Miracle Tree in that spot!
Plant your Miracle Tree in the late afternoon so it has the cool night to settle in. Carefully take the tree out of its pot and put it in the hole, supporting it with one hand. Fill the soil back in around it with your other hand, making sure not to disturb the tree’s roots. Pack the soil in firmly with your foot or pack it in with your hand. We can’t have wobbly trees!
Water it in really, really well and apply a seaweed or kelp product to help it overcome the transplant stress.
Unless you are germinating Moringa seeds straight in the ground, the best size for a Miracle Tree to go into the ground in 2-3ft. They will reach this size from seed in only 4 to 6 months!
Moringa Trees For Sale
There are lots of Moringa trees for sale on the internet, and you might be lucky enough to find one in your local plant nursery. You can take cuttings or seeds of a friend’s tree too, they will grow well. Moringa trees, being deciduous, don’t travel all that well. You can buy germinated organic seed from Epps Urban Homestead Farm (image on the left). You might find they travel better than bigger trees.
If you do prefer a bigger Moringa tree, expect them to arrive without leaves. Deciduous trees often drop their foliage during transport (particularly in dark boxes), because they think it is winter – time to drop foliage! They are a super hardy tree however, and should recover just fine. A splash of seaweed, some nice potting mix or spot in the garden with other plants surrounding it for protection and your Moringa tree should come back strongly. Everglades Farm has nice Moringa Trees for sale. (picture beneath germinated seed image.)
Drumstick Vegetable Benefits
Phytochemicals are chemicals produced by plants. The Moringa Tree has been found to have some rather unique compounds, including some that are reported to have anti-cancer and anti-bacterial properties. Its anti-bacterial properties are what makes it such a great water purifier!
Moringa’s compounds (of the glucosinolate, isothiocyanate, and other groups) are shown in the image below.
Structures of selected phytochemicals from Moringa:
- 4-(4′-O-acetyl-a-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy)benzyl isothiocyanate
- 4-(-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy)benzyl isothiocyanate
- benzyl isothiocyanate
- 4-(a-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy)benzyl glucosinolate
I will mainly focus on Moringa benefits that have been well-researched. There are a plethora of other reported benefits, including some that have been used for 100’s (possibly 1000’s) of years in traditional medicine. These remedies are either eaten or applied topically, with extracts, poultices, creams, powders, oils, and salves.
Although I, personally, believe that much of this traditional medicine is beneficial, there isn’t enough research, yet, to back up the claims. However, Jed Fahey mentions that:
“A plethora of traditional medicine references attest to its curative power, and scientific validation of these popular uses is developing to support at least some of the claims.”
Let’s hope researches will discover more and more benefits of the amazing Miracle Tree in years to come! I don’t believe we’ve heard the end about Moringa yet.
Antibiotic and Cancer Prevention
I am not a scientist, so this is a very basic summary of only a small portion of the research into Moringa available. I encourage you to review the references I included at the bottom for the full studies. There is some strong scientific evidence for two incredibly interesting benefits; its antibiotic and cancer prevention.
Antibiotic Benefits of Moringa
Research for Moringa’s antibiotic properties goes back to the late 1940’s, when scientists from universities and the Department of Biochemistry in India identified a compound called “pterygospermim”. Without going into too much chemical detail, this compound has antimicrobial properties.
Research was continued with a paper published in 1964, identifying further properties. These antimicrobial properties were later verified to work against a wide range of bacteria.
Lots of traditional medicine field reports and studies claim that the leaves, seeds, roots, bark, and flowers of the Moringa tree are effective against skin and internal infections. Unfortunately, these reports aren’t supported by clinical trials, which is why Western medicine hasn’t taken to using Moringa yet.
There are in-vitro studies, however, and they are showing good promise for these benefits.
Another study investigated effectiveness against Helicobacter pylori.
“ Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a type of bacteria. These germs can enter your body and live in your digestive tract. After many years, they can cause sores, called ulcers, in the lining of your stomach or the upper part of your small intestine. For some people, an infection can lead to stomach cancer.” —https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/h-pylori-helicobacter-pylori
Helicobacter pylori was classified by the World Health Organisation as a carcinogen in 1993.
“ Leaves of the tree Moringa oleifera, widely consumed in some tropical regions, also have anti-ulcer activity (reviewed in ), and certain glucosinolates/isothiocyanates from Moringa have strong antibacterial activity in vitro against H. pylori and a variety of other human pathogens” —NCBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4465045/ “
Moringa has a long history for being used in cancer prevention and tumor treatment, and it has been suggested for years that cancer can be prevented and treated with native plants. Again, more studies are needed to get modern medicine on board, but the results are promising.
Two of Moringa’s compounds, 4-(4’-O-acetyl-a-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy)benzyl isothiocyanate and niazimicin, were found to be effective inhibitors of Burkett’s lymphoma cells. In one of these studies, scientists also found that niazimicin inhibited tumor promotion (in a mouse). Another study examined eating Moringa’s drumsticks (the seed pods) for skin tumor prevention. They saw a dramatic reduction in skin papillomas.
This information was found in a report by Mr. Jed W. Fahey, a Western-trained nutritional biochemist who has studied some of Moringa’s phytochemicals for almost a decade. He has written a detailed report on Moringa’s reported benefits and claims: https://www.tfljournal.org/article.php/20051201124931586. In his words:
“Those who promote the cultivation and use of Moringa spp. in regions where hope is in short supply must be provided with the best available evidence, so as not to raise false hopes and to encourage the most fruitful use of scarce research capital.”
Moringa for Autism
Dr. Fahey plans to research the benefits of Moringa for autistic children, listen to the podcast on Smart Drug Smarts for his explanation, as well as a scorecard for Moringa’s nutrition.
Reported Traditional Moringa Benefits
Traditional medicine claims:
- Analgesic (Pain reliever)
- Liver disorders
- Stomach disorders (tea or young leaf paste in curd)
- Cold and flu remedy (flowers infused in honey)
- Gastric ulcers
- Diuretic (Increased production of urine)
- Skin diseases
- Antispasmodic (Relieves involuntary muscle spasms)
- Diabetes (tea) (antihyperglycemic, lowers glucose levels)
- Hepatoprotective (Prevent liver damage)
- Fatigue (tea)
- Anemia (tea)
- Anaphylactic (May help with anaphylactic symptoms)
- Antiarthritic (Relieve or prevent arthritic symptoms)
- Immune system booster (tea)
- Intestinal worms (poultice)
- Eye conditions (leaf infusion)
- Ear pain (oil)
- Wound healing (oil)
- Antiurolithic (Prevent Kidney stones)
- Radioprotective (helps protect healthy tissue from some of the side-effects caused by radiation)
- Blood pressure stabiliser (Leaf juice), anti-hypertensive (treat high blood pressure)
Despite some claims that Moringa is the ‘ultimate mother-care plant’, I do not recommend this for pregnant women due to its potential abortifacient properties that may cause abortion. Before using Moringa, check with your doctor or health professional! I am not a qualified doctor and this is not medical advice.
Moringa Oil Benefits
Moringa oil benefits are myriad, and it’s easy to make your own! Moringa oil is also known as Oil of Ben, or Ben Oil. If you’re wondering why Moringa oil is called Ben Oil, it’s because of its high amounts of behenic acid.
Behenic acid is making itself known, with companies like L’Oreal promoting it as “a saturated fatty acid that acts as a lubricant that helps restore the skin’s natural oils and improves overall levels of hydration.”
That makes Moringa oil’s first benefit very clear: It is a great skin conditioner, with hydrating properties. It also doesn’t go rancid easily. Ben Oil is used for lubrication in machinery and watches as well, making this point even stronger. Behenic acid is used in hair conditioners and moisturisers for its smoothing properties.
Moringa oil is used for ear ache (reportedly). Most likely because of its antibacterial properties, it may help with ear infection, as well as soothe a painful ear. Use it similarly to any other oil, like my mom, she used to put a cotton ball soaked in oil in my ear for ear ache!
Moringa is widely revered for its wound healing properties (reportedly), most likely because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and again, it’s soothing, hydrating action. Rubbed on your skin, Moringa Oil may also keep mosquitos away.
How to Make Moringa Oil
Moringa seeds yield 30 to 40% of oil by weight. I always imagine a bucket full of seeds, about 1/3 of that bucket would be oil. I’ve often heard it mention that it is not worth making your own oil, but when you imagine 1/3 of a bucket full of oil for only 1 bucket of seeds, it is actually quite worth it!
Moringa oil is also known as Oil of Ben or Ben Oil. ‘Ben’ comes from Behenic acid, which I described above. The oil is non-drying (which makes it very lubricating) and doesn’t go rancid easily.
To make Moringa oil, you need to use the seed kernel, which involves shelling the seed. This causes a bit of extra work, as you’ll either need to shell them manually, or buy a shelling machine. You can also use a mortar and pestle to gently crack the coating off. Once the seeds are out of the shells, you need to process them into oil as quickly as possible. The longer you leave the uncovered Moringa seeds lying around, the lower the quality of the Moringa oil.
You can use a cold press method to make Moringa Oil or a hot process to make oil.
Cold Pressed Moringa Oil
Once shelled, you are ready to press the seeds. For this, you can use a cold press machine, which will do all the work for you, or you can use a simpler process which was traditionally used for olives and other fruits (described below).
If you plan on processing large amounts of oil, you can also make a screw press (similar to the press in the picture above), which you can manually screw down to apply pressure to the crushed seed and squeeze the oil out.
Crush the seeds with a mortar and pestle or in a blender. Put the crushed seeds in a sack or bag of clean canvas or cloth (something that won’t break easily but porous enough to press the oil through). Put the sack of crushed seed on a raised, strong surface like a rock or small table covered with a plastic sheet. Make sure the edges of the plastic hang down and are raised to create a catch for the oil that doesn’t allow it to escape.
Put something very heavy on top of the sack, like a very heavy rock. You can also place a big strong board on top and use clamps (Like F-clamps) to clamp it down and apply more pressure. Leave it to press overnight. The liquid will pour out. When it stops running, pour some hot water over the sack, just enough to wet it, and press again. You can repeat this a couple of times.
Pour the liquid into jars and leave them to settle overnight. In the morning you will see that the Moringa oil floats on top. Siphon it off as soon as you can and store in clean, closable jars.
Hot-Processed Moringa Oil
Add your Moringa seeds to a big pot of water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes, you’ll see the oil rise to the top of the water once it comes to the boil. Turn off the heat and skim the oil of the top of the water.
You may need to do a ‘second clarification’ by putting the oil you skimmed off in the fridge, so it can solidify a bit and separate further from the water. Remove all the water, let the oil become liquid at room temperature, and store in clean jars.
How to eat Moringa
The answer to the question: “How to eat Moringa” is simple: any which way! Pretty much every part of this tree can be eaten! It is not particularly pleasant on its own, but no worse than a green juice or greens powder. It has that very rich, herbal taste to it, with a bit of a bitter kick.
Eat (or drink, I suppose) Moringa in smoothies, for example, with a good dose of lemon juice to cut through the bitterness. Blend it up with bananas or mango to add sweetness, and lots of ice cubes.
Use fresh Moringa seed pods (drumsticks) like green beans or asparagus in anything from salads to stews and soups to curries. Slice the pods lengthwise by following the groove and slice into pieces. They are super tasty cooked with turmeric and mustard.
Mature drumsticks (seed pods) can be dried and powdered, and used in soups, curries, and other meals. Add chopped drumsticks to lentil soups.
Add Moringa leaf powder to drinks, sprinkle it on foods and salads, or make your own capsules out of it. You make tea from Moringa leaf powder as well. Add leaf powder to porridge or add to water for a refreshing, nutritious drink.
Eat Moringa leaves in curries and soups. Pickle them. Young leaves are commonly used as vegetables in the Phillipines. They are reported to be very tasty in chicken stew and chicken soup! Drumstick leaves are added to crab curries in Sri Lankan cuisine.
Eat Moringa flowers too! Sautee with onions and some turmeric or ginger, or add to scrambled eggs and omelettes. Cook them with grated coconut. Flowers are delicious with potatoes and peas. Add them raw to salads.
Eat Moringa seeds green, roasted, or powdered. Powdered seeds can be sprinkled on food. Fresh seeds can be steeped for tea or used in curries.
Eat Moringa roots as a substitute for horseradish or make horseradish paste out of them. Add roots to meals for a horseradish flavor.
Eat Moringa as fresh as possible. Although you can throw it in hot foods as well, and if you have lots of Moringa I recommend that you do, hot temperatures can destroy some of its great nutrition and benefits.
How to Make Moringa Powder
Making Moringa powder is super easy. You will need to harvest your leaves (choose nice, dark green, healthy leaves). Remove any stems and leave the leaves to dry. Once dry, grind the leaves in a grinder or blender, or rub them against a fine screen.
Even without grinding them into powder, dried Moringa leaves will store for as long as 6 months. The powder is a great back-up nutrition source. Two tablespoons a day have been used to battle malnutrition in Africa.
- Harvest dark green, healthy leaves.
- Remove stems.
- Dry the leaves.
- Grind in a grinder or blender.
- Store for years!
Drumstick nutrition is rather impressive. Moringa leaves contain a great amount of protein (research varies between 20 and 38%), making it an excellent meat replacement for vegetarians, vegans, or just meat-free Monday’s.
It contains 8 essential amino acids and other amino acids, with amounts in milligrams per 100 grams:
- Isoleucine 385
- Leucine 688
- Lysine 476
- Methionine 164
- Cystine 148
- Phenylalamine 483
- Threonine 368
- Valine 491
- Arganine 491
- Histidine 181
Vitamins and minerals are also present in Moringa, it’s the Miracle tree for a reason!
- Carotene (precursor of vit A.)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B9 (folic acid)
- Vitamin B15
- Vitamin B17
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin H
- Vitamin K
“A research shows that immature pods contain around 46.78% fiber and around 20.66% protein content. Pods have 30% of amino acid content, the leaves have 44% and flowers have 31%. The immature pods and flowers showed similar amounts of palmitic, linolenic, linoleic, and oleic acids.”–Research Direct
Calcium is one of our most important minerals, particularly for growing kids. Milk is often cited as the best source of milk, but Moringa leaves can potentially triple the amount of calcium contained, with milk providing 300-400mg in 8 ounces, and moringa leaves 1000mg. Moringa powder can potentially contain as much as 4000mg in the same amount.
It is also claimed to be a great source of iron, possibly with higher content than spinach and beef.
Several organizations, including the Education Concerns for Hunger Organisation, have called Moringa “natural nutrition for the tropics”. Moringa is of extraordinary benefit in areas where malnutrition and starvation are common because not only is it high in nutrition, it can be stored for many months without much loss of nutritional value. It will grow where no other plant will grow and it produces leaves and produce when other food is scarce.
Other Uses for the Drumsticks Vegetable
Besides nutritional and medicinal uses, here’s a list of other uses for the Drumsticks Vegetable:
- Drumsticks Vegetable trees make great shade trees.
- It is excellent forage for sheep, cattle, and goats.
- Its oil can be used in hair and skin products.
- Although it is a softwood and not of very high quality, it can be used as lumber and for fencing.
- Moringa oil can be used as lubrication for machinery and watches.
- Water purification/clarification. May eliminate toxic metals, such as cadmium, from water. (More info below)
- Increases milk production in cows.
- Makes an excellent biofuel.
- Make a cleaning product from the crushed leaves.
- Blue dye from the wood.
- Green mulch and fertilizer.
- Foliar fertilizer (juice from the leaves).
- Produce gum from the trunks.
- Make rope from the bark.
- Make a natural insect repellent from the oil.
- Plant growth hormone from an infusion of fresh, very young leaves.
- Make paper from its pulp.
Moringa, the Plant That Can Purify Water
Note: Moringa purification that does NOT purify all bad pathogens, such as E. coli. Unless you have no other choice, other purification methods need to be used, like boiling and/or treatment with bleach. It is particularly useful for clarifying water before you treat it, for muddy water etc.
Powdered Moringa seeds can coagulate solids in water and they also have anti-microbial activity. Researchers at Gadja Made University found that:
“One crushed Moringa seed can clear 90% of the total coliform bacteria in a litre of river water within 20 minutes. Laboratory tests on mice showed that even if 2000 seeds were used per litre of water (50g Moringa seed per 100ml) that is, 2000 times the recommended quantity, there were no toxic effects on mice that drank the treated water.”—New Scientist
Powdered Moringa seeds are commonly used to purify muddy river water in Sudan and Peru, and studies have also been performed on the Angereb and Shinta rivers in Ethiopia. The scientists in Ethiopia concluded:
“The seed powder exhibits a remarkable reduction in turbidity and coliform count which makes the seed powder a good source for water purification. The acetone extract of seed had a strong antibacterial activity. It reveals that the seed powder and its extract can control and reduce waterborne bacterial diseases.”— Biomedcentral
In my understanding, Moringa acts like a magnet in the water. It is positively charged, and attracts negatively charged particles. Things like clay, bacteria, and other toxic particles are often negatively charged, so they attach/are attracted to the positively charged Moringa seed.
When you let the water settle, the Moringa powder settles to the bottom, taking the bacteria and toxins with it. You can then filter the clean water off the top.
How to Purify Water With Moringa
In general, you need 1 seed kernel for every litre (1.05 quarts) of water to purify water with Moringa, but it does depend on the turbidity (murkiness) of the water. The recommendation of 1 seed for 1 quart is for highly turbid water. For medium murkiness, use 1 seed for 2 quarts. Use 1 seed for 4 quarts in low turbidity.
If your water is extremely murky, you might need 2 Moringa seeds for a quart of water. If you prefer working with grams, 50-150mg of ground Moringa seed purifies 1 quart of water. Again, this depends on the murkiness of the water. You can experiment with the amount of Moringa seeds you need to purify water.
- Extreme turbidity: 2 seeds per quart
- High turbidity: 1 seed per quart
- Medium turbidity: 1 seed per 2 quarts
- Low turbidity: 1 seed per 4 quarts
You need mature Moringa seed pods (leave them to dry naturally on the tree) to make Moringa powder to purify water.
- Harvest mature pods.
- Remove the seeds from the pods.
- As with making the oil, you need to shell the seeds and use only the kernels.
- Crush the seed kernels into a fine powder.
- Mix the powder with a small amount of clean water.
- Sieve the mixture through some clean cloth.
- Now you’ll have Moringa milk. Add the milk to the water you want to purify.
- Stir vigorously for 30 seconds.
- Stir slowly for 5 minutes.
- Cover and leave to rest for at least 1 hour.
- Siphon clean water off the top.
Important Tips for How to Purify Water With Moringa
- You need to shake and stir well to activate Moringa’s coagulant properties.
- Make sure you leave the settled material at the bottom. It contains all the stuff you filtered out, so you don’t want to add them back in!
- Moringa does NOT kill all bad pathogens. Boil it before drinking, or use other water treatment, unless there is absolutely no other way. A combination of Moringa water purification and boiling is a good way, as boiling kills the bad pathogens, and Moringa helps in filtering out toxins, salts, and other impurities that boiling doesn’t remove.
Miracle Tree Other Names
There are an incredible amount of other names for the Miracle Tree:
- Ben Oil Tree
- Ben Tree
- Drumstick Vegetable
- Drumsticks Vegetable
- Drumstick Plant
- Nutritive Value of Indian Foods, C. Gopalan et al: National Institute of Nutrition, 1994.
- Hartwell JL. 1967-1971. Plants used against cancer: a survey. Lloydia 30-34.
- Radioprotective effect of Moringa leaves: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11831365
Moringa oleifera is worthy of it’s Miracle Tree name. Every garden should grow one. If your climate is too cold, grow it inside or grow it as sprouts. Moringa is easy to grow from seed, you can prune it if you’re short on space or grow it large as a shade tree. Don’t just grow 1; grow many! Feed yourself, feed your family, feed your animals. Spread the word and feed the world.
We need Moringa!