Why You Need a Moringa Oleifera In Your Garden
Native to north-western India, the Moringa Oleifera tree has been cultivated for its many reputed benefits for thousands of years. More recently, there has been increased interest in its uses as a superfood, and Moringa extracts, sold as supplements, are now popular on the market. This has been accompanied by a sharp rise in studies about its ability to treat various ailments. Today, Moringa trees are grown worldwide, including in parts of Africa, the Americas, and here in North-Western Australia.
As its benefits become more recognisable worldwide, many people have been planting the Moringa tree and enjoying the health advantages today, in addition to improving the aesthetic appeal of their surroundings. If you’re looking to add to your garden, there are several reasons why the Moringa Oleifera should be on your list of options.
1. It’s easy to grow
Also called the “drumstick” tree, the Moringa Oleifera is a hardy, deciduous tree that grows without much effort. In fact, it is reproduced from either seeds or cuttings and progresses quickly, even in poor soil. It thrives particularly in tropical and sub-tropical climates but can also withstand a mild frost. It can reach heights of up to three meters in a single year, flowering eight months after planting.
Another advantage of growing a Moringa in your garden is that its a low-maintenance plant due to its ability to extract nutrients from various soil types via its well-developed root system. Also, while new seedlings and cuttings might require regular irrigation for the first season when planted in arid areas, watering is rarely needed after the plant is established.
For best results, cutting off the main trunk is recommended when the tree is 1 – 2 meters tall; this encourages the development of spreading branches, instead of the tree just growing tall and straight. Moringa trees planted in areas that are prone to hard frost freezes can also benefit from regular pruning.
2. Almost 90% of the tree is useful
Regardless of your lifestyle, you’re bound to find one or more uses for the Moringa Oleifera, whether for food or your general well-being. That’s because almost all of the tree can be used for various purposes. For starters, it’s leaves, and seed pods are an excellent food source. The leaves have been found to contain high levels of iron, calcium, potassium, and protein. Its nutritional content is one reason why Moringa has become a vital component in the diet of malnourished children in countries such as Senegal and Benin.
Although high in nutritive value, the leaves are low in calories, which means they are great for salads. The seasonal flowers are also edible and are described as being similar in taste to mushrooms. The Moringa seeds are also edible and can be cold-pressed to make an oil for cooking, as well as used to filter pond water for drinking purposes. As it relates to the bark, it can be used in teas, as well as to make a type of dye.
3. Moringa is great as fodder
If you rear animals such as cattle or goats, you can also grow Moringa trees for fodder. Its use in this regard is outstanding in areas where grass and other plants used for fodder might be lacking due to low water availability and/or poor soil condition. Its nutritious leaves and stems can contribute to substantial weight gain, in addition to increased milk production (43 – 65%) in cattle. Moreover, the leaves can be mixed with other types of animal feed. According to this study, mixing Moringa leaves with other types of fodder improves their digestibility.
4. It has incredible health benefits
If you’re into plants that offer wide-ranging health benefits, that’s one more reason why getting the Moringa Oleifera for your garden is a great idea. To begin with, it has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, including as a natural antibiotic and for treating disorders of the liver.
Modern medicine has shed even more light on the health benefits of using Moringa, although research is still ongoing to ascertain all its values as a medicinal resource. Here are a few of the proven benefits you stand to gain from investing in a Moringa tree.
a) It reduces pain and inflammation
Moringa has anti-inflammatory compounds (called isothiocyanates) and has been used in traditional medicine to treat arthritis and joint pain. Its roots and bark have also been documented as useful in the relief of lower back and kidney pain, as well as the reduction of indigestion and inflammation when brewed as a tea.
b) Lowers cholesterol
One study, supported by the Beijing Institute of food sciences, found that Moringa seeds can be helpful in reducing cholesterol, due to their high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids (76%), which include linoleic acid, linolenic acid and oleic acid.
Other researchers have noted that taking Moringa seed supplements can help reduce cholesterol, thereby reducing the incidence of heart disease.
c) Helps lower blood sugar levels
While most of the evidence about Moringa’s effect on diabetes (type 1 and 2) so far is based on animal studies, research has shown that aqueous extracts of Moringa can help protect diabetic patients against oxidative damage.
Researchers have also hypothesized that flavonoids present in Moringa can help to keep high blood sugar under control.
Whether you’re looking to spruce up your surroundings or add plants to your garden that also provide health and nutritional benefits (or all of the above), planting a Moringa Oleifera tree could be the best decision you make.