moringa (moringa oleiefera)

If you keen to add another ‘survival plant’ to your collection, moringa is the tree to have. It grows vigorously and can adapt to most climates. I have nurtured my own moringa from a scrawny seedling to a now six foot tall tree. I harvested some leaves from the top of the tree over the past year to keep the height down to a manageable size. Trimmings have provided an abundance of greens that I add to juices, smoothies and salads

Moringa is an ancient plant originating in India. It has now been rediscovered as a valuable food source and medicine in both western and developing countries

As well as its nutritional benefits moringa has antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties. It has been used traditionally as a medicine for skin complaints, for diarrhea, colitis, fevers, infections and to increase milk production in breast feeding mothers and for anemia. There are many illnesses said to be cured by moringa and also scientific studies proving its many benefits. Basically, when your body is well nourished it has the ability to remain energetic, healthy, and without disease

All parts of the moringa tree are edible but it is normally the leaves, pods, seeds and flowers that are eaten

It is easy to propagate from branch cuttings and from seed

The dried leaves can be powdered and added to smoothies or juices as a nutritional boost and is a good way to preserve your moringa cuttings when you have too much to eat fresh

An effective cream can be made with moringa and used topically to treat cuts, scrapes, sores, rashes and recent studies have shown its effectiveness against staphylococcus aureus, aka golden staph, which can be hard to eradicate even with antibiotics

When young, the pods of moringa can be eaten as a cooked vegetable similar to green beans. The immature seeds and surrounding pulp can be washed to remove bitterness and then cooked like peas

The older pods are tougher on the outside but the insides are still edible. The mature seeds can be fried until crispy and are said to taste like peanuts.

The flowers are eaten cooked and have been compared to the taste of mushrooms

My moringa tree hasn’t flowered or seeded yet so I have yet to try these delicacies. In the first couple of years the fruits are not produced but by the second year it should be producing up to 300 pods with about 400-500 by year three. Even though it’s fast growing I suspect the cooler mountain climate slows down its growth in the winter months. As it was in the greenhouse last winter, I have yet to see how it fares with the frost

Moringa is another perfect addition to you food garden

Growing and using the moringa is practicing self help