Saturday, February 12, 2011

Moringa oleifera

ok folks, for those of you who have been reading (thank you!) i have discovered what i think is my new favorite plant. with many uses for timber, dye, medicine and probably the most nutritious food around the winner is.... Moringa oleifera, in Tamil "murungai maram" (murungai - kai for fruits, murungai - keerai for leaves). Moringa is grown all over the world in climates equivalent to USDA zones 9 and 10. it is not frost tolerant, but is very very drought tolerant.

i grew up eating this tree's tasty fruits - referred to as "drumsticks" as they look just as their name sake. my family would put them into sambar and i would be the first to go in and pick out all the drumsticks from the stew.

only recently did i learn of the wonderfood that is the leaves - today we harvested local leaves and i am de-stemming them in the photo above to make into a dish. the leaves are somewhat tangy. the leaves contain beta-carotene, vitamin c, protein, iron and potassium. they are said to be particularly beneficial for breast-feeding mothers and young children with one tablespoon of dried leaves providing 14 % of the protein, 40% of the calcium, 23% of the iron and nearly all of the vitamin A a child needs from age 1 -3!!!

i also learned through the video below that many are working to spread knowledge of this tree and its nutritional benefits to malnourished areas of the world.

as far as the trees dye properties i have yet to test, but supposedly in jamaica the sap yields a blue dye!

the flowers are also used in traditional medicines.

certainly a miracle tree in my book.


Sangeetha Sriram said...

thanks for the post deepa. a good reminder to make this a regular part of my and isha's diet. :)

Caterpillarlady said...

I want some Moringa! Can I get it at Berkeley Bowl?