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Moringa oleifera - Lam.

Common Name Horseradish Tree, Moringa,
Family Moringaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Readily colonizes stream banks and savannah areas where the soils are well drained and the water table remains fairly high all the year round[303 ].
Range E. Asia - Indian subcontinent.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (5 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Full sun
Moringa oleifera Horseradish Tree, Moringa,

Moringa oleifera Horseradish Tree, Moringa,


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Commonly known in various names such as Horseradish tree, Moringa, Drumstick tree, Ben Oil tree, and Benzoil tree, Moringa oleifera is the only genus in the Moringaceae family. It is deciduous, fast growing, and resistant to drought reaching a height of up to 12 m and trunk diameter of up to 45 cm upon maturity. It has an open crown of drooping branches and tripinatte leaves. The leaves are yellow-white, fragrant, and thinly veined. The fruit is a three-sided capsule, brown in color, and hanging. The seeds are globular, dark boring and have whitish papery wings. It can be dispersed by wind and water. The roots are shredded and used as a condiment. The leaves are the most nutritious plant part. It is often cooked and consumed as vegetable, or dried and crushed into a powder then added into soups and sauce. The seed pods are edible when immature but become inedible and bitter as it mature. The seeds can be eaten like peas or roasted. It yields edible oil known as ben oil which is clear and odorless. The flowers can also be eaten raw or cooked. Horseradish tree, in general, is diuretic, rubefacient, and laxative. It can be used to increase milk flow and control bacterial infections. It can also be used as treatment for asthma, gout, rheumatism, inflammation, bladder and kidney stones, boils, ulcers, wounds, skin diseases, snake bites, etc. Horseradish tree is also planted as windbreaks and to prevent soil erosion. Propagation is by seed or cuttings. The bark is used for tanning. The wood yields blue dye and used only for light constructions.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Moringa oleifera is a deciduous Tree growing to 8 m (26ft) by 8 m (26ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10 and is frost tender. The flowers are pollinated by Bees, Sunbirds.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Guilandina moringa L. Hyperanthera moringa (L.) Vahl Moringa moringa (L.) Millsp. Moringa pterygospe

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Inner bark  Leaves  Oil  Root  Seed  Seedpod  Shoots
Edible Uses: Condiment  Gum  Oil  Tea

Young leaves and shoots - raw or cooked[301 ]. Added to salads, cooked as a potherb and added to soups and curries[299 , 301 , 307 ]. They have a mustard-like flavour[301 ]. The leaves contain 7 - 10% protein[301 ]. (This almost certainly refers to the dried leaf[K ].) The leaves are very nutritious, being rich in vitamins, minerals and the sulphur-containing amino acids methionine and cystine, which are often in short supply[303 ]. The young, tender seedlings make an excellent cooked vegetable[301 , 303 ]. Flowers - raw or cooked[299 , 301 ]. Added to salads, cooked as a potherb and added to soups and curries[301 , 303 ]. They can also be used to make a tea[303 ]. Seedpods. The long, bean-like pods are used in soups and curries, or made into pickles[301 ]. The young pods are said to have a taste reminiscent of asparagus[303 ] and can be eaten raw[307 ]. The pods can be 15 - 45cm long[418 ]. Seeds. The immature seeds are eaten like peas[301 ]. A sweet flavour[307 ]. Mature seeds, when roasted or fried, are said to resemble peanuts in flavour[299 , 301 ]. An oil obtained from the seeds is used in salads and cooking[301 ]. Pleasantly flavoured, it resembles olive oil and is an excellent salad oil[303 ]. The oil is clear and odourless and does not become rancid quickly[299 ]. The seeds from mature pods (which can be 40-50 cm long) are browned in a skillet, mashed and placed in boiling water, which causes the oil to float to the surface[303 ]. The pungent root is used like horseradish (Armoracea rusticana) as a hot flavouring in foods[301 , 303 ]. Even when free of the bark, the condiment when used in excess may be harmful[303 ]. A reddish gum obtained from the bark is used as a seasoning[301 ]. Used in a similar manner to gum tragacanth[200 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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Abortifacient  Antiasthmatic  Antibiotic  Antifungal  Antiinflammatory  Antirheumatic  Appetizer  Astringent  
Cardiac  Demulcent  Digestive  Diuretic  Expectorant  Kidney  Laxative  
Odontalgic  Rubefacient  Skin  Tonic  Vesicant

The horseradish tree is a nutritious, diuretic, laxative herb that is expectorant, increases milk flow, controls bacterial infections and is rubefacient when applied topically[238 ]. It contains a potent antibiotic[238 ]. Ben oil, obtained from the seeds, has no taste, smell or colour and is exceptionally resistant to oxidation[238 ]. The young leaves are taken internally to increase the milk flow in nursing mothers[238 ]. The root is used as a vesicant[287 ]. The alkaloid spirachin (a nerve paralyzer) has been found in the roots[303 ]. The root juice is used internally in the treatment of asthma, gout, rheumatism, enlarged spleen and liver, bladder and kidney stones, inflammatory conditions[238 ]. Externally, the root is used to treat boils, ulcers, glandular swellings, infected wounds, skin diseases, dental infections, snake bites and gout[238 ]. The roots and bark are used for cardiac and circulatory problems, as a tonic and for inflammation[303 ]. The bark is an appetizer and digestive[303 ]. The gum is demulcent, diuretic, astringent and abortifacient[303 , 307 ]. It is used in cough syrups and in the treatment of asthma[303 ]. The bark and gum are used in the treatment of tuberculosis and septicaemia[238 ]. Flowers and immature fruits are said to be a good rubefacient[287 ]. A decoction of the flowers is used as a cold remedy[303 ]. The seeds are effective against skin-infecting bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. They contain the potent antibiotic and fungicide terygospermin[303 ]. Oil of Ben is used for hysteria, scurvy, prostate problems and bladder troubles[303 ]. A number of compounds with medicinal properties have been isolated. The fruit and leaf contain oxalic acid, the bark moringinine, the stem vanillin, the flower kaempferol and quercetin and the root spirochin and pterygospermin[299 ]. The seeds contain a glucosinolate that on hydrolysis yields 4-(alpha-L-rhamnosyloxy)-benzylisothiocyanate, an active bactericide and fungicide[299 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Cosmetic  Dye  Fencing  Fertilizer  Fibre  Filter  Fodder  Fuel  Gum  Hedge  Oil  Pioneer  Plant support  Scourer  Shelterbelt  Soap making  Soil conditioner  String  Tannin  Weaving  Wood

Seaside tree. Flowering tree. Coastal street tree. Specimen. Xerophytic. Agroforestry Uses: Plants can be grown as an informal hedge[200 ], providing wind protection, shade and support for climbing garden plants[303 ]. Widely used for live fences and hedges in many areas[303 ]. Stakes root easily and are stable, and cuttings planted in lines are used particularly around houses and gardens[303 ]. Because its shade can be controlled well Moringa oleifera is suitable for planting in alley cropping and in vegetable gardens. When trees reach 1.5 metres, farmers prune them (at 50cm from the ground or at ground level for older ones) once or twice a year. In alley cropping, an intra-row spacing of 2 metres is used. In the wet season cereals are grown between the lines, in the dry season vegetables[299 ]. Because the tree is fast growing and readily colonizes areas such as stream banks and savannah, it makes a very good pioneer species for establishing a woodland garden. It is able to provide food after just a few months and also providing shelter to help other plants to establish[K ]. Other Uses The oil obtained from the mature seed and pods, known as 'oil of ben', has been used to lubricate watches and other fine machinery[63 , 238 , 287 , 303 ]. It is also used in perfumery, artist's paints, soaps and ointments[200 , 238 ]. It is yellowish, non-drying, has good keeping qualities but eventually turns rancid[303 ]. The powdered seeds are used to clarify sugar cane juice[303 ]. A suspension of the ground seed is used as a primary coagulant[299 , 303 ]. It can clarify water of any degree of visible turbidity. At high turbidity, its action is almost as fast as that of alum, but at medium and low turbidity, good clarification is obtained if a small cloth bag filled with the powdered seeds is swirled round in the turbid water[303 ]. To prepare the seed for use as a coagulant, remove the seed coat and wings. The white kernel is then crushed to a powder, using a mortar or placing it in a cloth and crushing it with a stone. The powder should be mixed with a small amount of water, stirred, then poured through a tea strainer before being added to the turbid water[303 ]. The seed cake residue from oil extraction can also be used for water purification[299 ]. The seed contains a protein (cationic polyelectrolyte) that acts as a flocculant in water purification. It also contains a non-protein flocculant that is more effective in purifying low-turbidity water[299 ]. The bark, when beaten, produces a fibre used to make small ropes and mats. A study on the production of rayon-grade pulp from M. Oleifera by a prehydrolyzed sulphate process in India shows that it is suitable as a raw material for the production of high alpha cellulose pulp for use in cellophane and textiles[303 ]. When the tree is injured, the stem exudes a gum that is used in calico printing[303 ]. The bark is used for tanning[238 , 303 ]. The wood yields a blue dye[299 , 303 ]. The crushed leaves are used to clean pots, pans and walls[303 ]. The press cake left after oil extraction from the seeds can be used as a soil conditioner or as fertilizer[303 ]. The wood is very soft, corky and light, and is useful only for light construction work[303 , 404 ]. It is pulped as a source of rayon and cellophane[238 ]. The soft and light wood burns smoke-free and is an acceptable firewood for cooking but makes poor charcoal[299 , 303 ]. It has a density of 0.5-0.7 and yields approximately 4600 kcal/kg[303 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Coppice  Food Forest  Hedge

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Alley crop  Agroforestry Services: Contour hedgerow  Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Agroforestry Services: Living fence  Agroforestry Services: Living trellis  Fodder: Bank  Industrial Crop: Medicinal  Management: Coppice  Management: Standard  Minor Global Crop  Other Systems: FMAFS  Other Systems: Homegarden  Staple Crop: Oil  Staple Crop: Protein

Horseradish tree succeeds in warm temperate to tropical areas and can be found at elevations from sea-level to about 1,000 metres[303 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 35°c, but can tolerate 7 - 48°c[418 ]. The plant is quite cold hardy and is not harmed by light frosts, but it can be killed back to ground level by a freeze. It quickly sends out new growth from the trunk when cut, or from the ground when frozen[303 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 700 - 2,200mm, but tolerates 400 - 2,600mm[418 ]. Easily grown in a well-drained soil in a sunny position, tolerating a wide range of soil types[200 , 307 ]. It grows best on fertile and well drained sandy soil, clay or clay loam but is in general suitable for light, medium and heavy soils thoigh it will not withstand salinity. It has a special tolerance to shallow soil and is tolerant of low fertility[404 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7, tolerating 5 - 8.5[418 ]. Established plants are quite drought tolerant but yield much less foliage when continuously under water stress[303 ]. Grows better if given shelter from strong winds[418 ]. Moringa is an extremely fast-growing tree, and within 1- 3 months trees can reach 2.5 metres in height[303 ]. Growth rates of 3 - 4 metres per year is not unusual for young plants[299 ] Young trees raised from seed start flowering after 2 years. In trees grown from cuttings the first fruits may be expected 6 - 12 months after planting[299 ]. Flowering often precedes or coincides with the formation of new leaves, and can occur throughout the year in non-seasonal climates[299 ]. Constant pruning of up to 1.5 metres per year is suggested to obtain a thick-limbed and multibranched shrub[303 ]. It coppices and pollards well[303 ]. The sweet smelling flowers are produced throughout the year[404 ]. In the warmer parts of its range the plant can produce a second crop of seeds each year[418 ]. There is at least one named variety[301 ]. Flowering Time: Late Spring/Early Summer. Bloom Color: White/Near White. Spacing: 8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m).

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Alley crop  Integrates annual crops with rows of perennials.
  • Agroforestry Services: Contour hedgerow  Alley cropping systems on the contour of slopes.
  • Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Plants providing crop shade especially trees.
  • Agroforestry Services: Living fence  Simply managed rows of shrubs and trees.
  • Agroforestry Services: Living trellis  Plants to physically support other crops.
  • Fodder: Bank  Fodder banks are plantings of high-quality fodder species. Their goal is to maintain healthy productive animals. They can be utilized all year, but are designed to bridge the forage scarcity of annual dry seasons. Fodder bank plants are usually trees or shrubs, and often legumes. The relatively deep roots of these woody perennials allow them to reach soil nutrients and moisture not available to grasses and herbaceous plants.
  • Industrial Crop: Medicinal  Most pharmaceuticals are synthesized from petroleum but 25% of modern medicines are based on plants.
  • Management: Coppice  Cut to the ground repeatedly - resprouting vigorously. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.
  • Other Systems: FMAFS  Farmer-Managed Agroforestry Farming Systems.
  • Other Systems: Homegarden  Tropical multistrata agroforestry (multi-story combinations of trees, crops, domestic animals in the homestead).
  • Staple Crop: Oil  (0-15 percent protein, 16+ percent oil). Some of these are consumed whole while others are exclusively pressed for oil. Annuals include canola, poppyseed, maize, cottonseed, sunflower, peanut. Perennials include high-oil fruits, seeds, and nuts, such as olive, coconut, avocado, oil palm, shea, pecan, and macadamia. Some perennial oil crops are consumed whole as fruits and nuts, while others are exclusively pressed for oil (and some are used fresh and for oil).
  • Staple Crop: Protein  (16+ percent protein, 0-15 percent oil). Annuals include beans, chickpeas, lentils, cowpeas, and pigeon peas. Perennials include perennial beans, nuts, leaf protein concentrates, and edible milks.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - can be sown either directly, in containers or in a nursery seedbed, preferably with around 50% shade. No seed pre-treatment is required and seeds sprout readily in 1 - 2 weeks. Plants can be ready for planting out within 3 months of germination. Plants raised from seed produce fruit of unpredictable quality[299 , 303 ]. Germination rates for fresh seeds are around 80%, going down to about 50% after 12 months storage, but no seeds survive 2 years of storage[299 ]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood[200 ]. Easy[303 ]. Stem cuttings are usually preferred because they root easily[303 ]. Large limbs can be planted to make an instant living fence[307 ]. Branches 100 - 150cm in length, with a diameter of up to 4cm will root readily in just a few months[299 ]. Shield budding is successful, and budded trees begin to bear in 6 months and continue to give a good crop for 13 years[303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Horseradish Tree, Moringa, Drumstick Tree, Ben Oil Tree, Benzoil Tree, Achajhada, Agati, Alinga, Benoil tree, Benzolive-tree, Boro ni idia, Buah kelentang, Elmakka, Kachang kelok, Kachang kelu, Kachang kelur, Kelor, Kilor, La mu, Lembugai, Lopa, Ma-rum, Malunggay talbos, Marongghi, Marum, Marungi, Merunggai, Midhosaragavo, Mronge, Mrum, Mulaga, Munaga, Munga arak, Mungna, Murinna, Murruggai, Murunga, Murungai, Murunkai, Nanquera, Nugge, Oil of Ben Tree, Pemanggai, Ramunggai, Rawag, Rembugai, Sahijan, Sahjna, Saijan, Saijana, Sainjan, Sainjna, Sajana, Sajina, Sajina, Sajyon, Sanjna, Saragavo, Saragvo, Segta, Seijan, Seringuane-singa, Shajna, Shanjna, Shekta, Shevgi, Shobhanjana, Shorjona, Sigru, Sijan, Sital chini, Sloek morom, Soanjna, Sohjna, Sonjna, Tellamunaga, Thingbe, Wasabi no-ki-no-ha, West Indian ben, Wimdi boundu, Zogale, agamago, ak?iva, alim, amaris, argentiga, babatsi, bagaelean, baganlua, bagaruwar masar, bahala, bahola, barambo, bararuwar maka, behen tree, behenbaum, ben aile', ben ailee, ben ailée, ben and benoil- tree, ben-oil-tree, benzolive-tree, bred mouroung, brede morongy, brede mouroungue, brède mouroungue, chamwamba, chigban wawa, danga, drum stick tree, drum-stick tree, drumstick tree, drumstick tree|murunga, drumsticktree, ewe igbale, ewe ile, gawara, gigandjah, habbah ghaliah, habiwal hausa, halim, horse radish tree, horse-radish tree, horseradish tree, horseradish-tree, horseradishtree, idaga manoye, kangaluni, konamarade, maranga, marum, marunga, meerrettichbaum, meringgai, mirongo, mlonge, mlongo, mlonje, mocaka, moringa a graines tripteres, moringa ailée, moringueiro, mouroungue, mronge, mrongo, mulaga, mulaya chetta, munaga, munaga aku, munaga chettu, munga, mungna, munika, muringa, muringa elai, muringai, muringai virai, muringnga, muringueiro, muringya, murinna, murungai, murungai iali, murungai ilai, mzunze, mocaka, na-sha, neegge, never die, nugge, nugge beeta, nugge ele, nugge kand chakke, nuggekoyimara, nuggemara, néverdié, oil of ben tree, okwe, okwe-beke, oyibo, paraíso, paraíso blanc, pferderettichbaum, rini maka, ruwag, sahajan, sahajana, sahenjana chaal, sahijana, saijna, sajana, sajina, sajna, sajne, sajyon, sangoa, sanjano, saragave, saragavo, saragavo parna, sargavo, segat sala, segata, segata pana, sehjan, sehjana, sekato, sevaga, shajoma, shegatabeeja, shevaga, shewga, shewgachi pane, shigru, shipka hali, shobhanjana, shuka halinka, sigru, sohajana, sohaniana, sohanjana, sohijan, sohjna, sonjna, tiksnggandha, tishnagandha, tree of life, tik??agandha, tik??agandha, west indian ben, yevu-ti, yevuti, zakalanda, zogall, zogall-gandi, zogallagandi, sigru (leaf), sigru (root bark), sigru (seed), sigru (stem bark), sobhañjana, sakhapatra, sobhañjana.

Afghanistan, Africa, Andamans, Angola, Antigua-Barbuda, Asia, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Caribbean, Central Africa, Central African Republic, Central America, Chad, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, East Africa, East Timor, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, French Guiana, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guam, Guatemala, Guiana, Guinea, Guinée, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India*, Indochina, Indonesia, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Laos, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Africa, North America, Northeastern India, Pacific, Pakistan*, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Paraguay, Philippines, Rwanda, Sahel, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, SE Asia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Southern Africa, South America, Sri Lanka, St Kitts, Sudan, Suriname, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad-Tobago, Uganda, USA, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Africa, West Indies, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Moringa peregrinaMoringaTree8.0 10-12 MLMHNDM223
Moringa stenopetalaAfrican horseradish tree, cabbagetreeTree9.0 10-12 MLMHSNDM434

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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