If you haven’t heard of the Moringa tree, then you aren’t alone.
I recently read about the Moringa or the “Miracle Tree” while researching crops that are useful in third world countries. While it may lack a little in the aesthetics department, Moringa oleifera more than makes up for it in other pretty amazing ways.
According to moringamalunggay.com, the dried leaves, on a per weight basis, have:
• ½ times the vitamin C in oranges
• 17 times the calcium in milk
• 10 times the vitamin A in carrots
• 9 times the protein in yogurt
• 15 times the potassium in bananas
• 25 times the iron in spinach
The nutrient profile is the most exciting aspect of the Moringa but there are other benefits: The seeds can be pressed and the oil can be used for cooking. The remaining paste can be used for water purification or fertilizer. The flowers and the immature seed pods can also be eaten and in some cultures, are used in traditional medicine.
And there’s more …
The tree is very drought resistant and grows rapidly in poor soil. If you’re living in an area where you haven’t seen rain for months and the earth is cracked and barren, the Moringa may just get you and your livestock through some tough times.
Is there anything bad about the Moringa? Well, I read that the roots contain an alkaloid which can cause a potentially fatal nerve-paralyzing agent. Probably best to avoid the roots but who wants to eat tree roots anyway?
After I did more research, I found that there was a distributor of Moringa trees literally down the street where I live. I’m not sure why anyone needs these trees in the middle of Los Angeles but I suppose even upscale Angelenos can derive some benefits.
I bought two saplings for about ten dollars a piece. I don’t have a yard to plant them in so I stuck them in a pot and put them on my semi-shaded patio. I have no idea how well they’ll do but I guess it’s my way of seeing just how hardy these things really are.
And yes, I did eat a couple of leaves. They tasted a little like spinach. Not bad, I suppose. Do I feel better already? It's a little too early to tell ...