Commonly known as the Drumstick or Horseradish tree, and botanically as Moringa olefeira, this tree is one of the most useful trees that has its roots in India. After its discovery, the Moringa plant was grown in Asia, Africa, both the American continents, and Europe. Roots, stalk, fruits, flowers - all parts of this tree are used in some way or the other.
Hence, it is a true gift of nature to mankind. Other than using the pods of this tree as a daily food item, there are many medicinal and industrial applications of it. These range from nutrition, soil control, agriculture, water purification, cattle feed, industrial applications, medicine, etc.
It is not a difficult task to learn how to grow the plant. Since it was found growing in the wild when it was discovered, this tree can be grown with minimum maintenance. The many uses of this plant make its cultivation definitely beneficial. Being very adaptable, it can grow in any weather conditions, without much extra care.
Moringa oleifera or Moringa stenopetala seeds can be used. The former are brown, winged, and relatively easier to obtain, while the latter are tan. The oleifera can reach to a height of around 12m. However, it is advisable to grow it to a height within your reach so that harvesting the leaves and pods remains easy.
They are said to be effective for disorders like cancer, nervous conditions, gastric ulcers, skin diseases, fatigue, impotence, edema, cramps, diabetes, hemorrhoids, headaches, hay fever, and sore gums.
Extracts from the parts can be used to treat acne, age spots, pimples, black and white heads, and patchy skin. The health benefits also include lowering blood sugar, and increasing lactation and bone density.
The edible parts of the plant are its pods or fruits, known as drumsticks. These are used in various delicious food preparations. The leaves of this plant contain nutrients like vitamin C, beta carotene, iron, potassium, proteins, and various essential amino acids.
They are great substitutes for spinach leaves. The very well-known Moringa oil, extracted from the seeds, is used for cooking purposes, and also in ointments.
The plant also has industrial applications where its various parts are used in production and treatment of commercial products.
- Its seeds are used in water treatment, and as cleansing agents. They are powdered and used to clean turbid water.
- Research shows that methane gas can be produced from the leaves of plant, which is used in biogas plants as a biofuel.
- The dried leaves of Moringa can be used as fodder for cattle and livestock.
- The oil which is pressed from the seeds is used in cosmetics, perfumes, and also as a lubricant in mechanical industries.
The word kalpavriksha means 'a tree, every part of which is of some use'. One such example is the coconut tree. Like the coconut tree, every part of the Moringa is of some use, and hence, it won't be wrong to call it a kalpavriksha. So, try planting one in your backyard, and enjoy its manifold benefits.