Commonly known as ben or horseradish tree, moringa oleifera is cultivated for a multitude of different uses, with almost all parts of the tree being edible or suitable for medicinal purposes. Originating from Arabia and India, Moringa is cultivated in the tropics and sub-tropics in many parts of the globe. This deciduous tree can grow to 15m tall and 6 to 10m wide, with pale grey to coppery bark. Scented cream flowers are borne in loose panicles. They are followed by slender brown bean –like seed pods up to 50cm long. Trees are usually cut back in early spring to contain their growth size and make harvesting easier.
The leaves, flowers, seedlings and young seed pods are cooked and eaten as green vegetables. Roots are used as a substitute for horseradish. Seeds are roasted and eaten like nuts whilst young seeds are shelled and used like green peas. The gum is used for food flavouring or seasoning. Numerous medicinal and economic uses abound for parts of this miracle tree.
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