ABSTRACT

Uses — Described as “one of the most amazing trees God has created”.383 Almost every part of the Moringa is said to be of value for food. Seed is said to be eaten like a peanut in Malaya. Thickened root used as substitute for horseradish. Foliage eaten as greens, in salads, in vegetable curries, as pickles and for seasoning. Leaves pounded up and used for scrubbing utensils and for cleaning walls. Flowers are said to make a satisfactory vegetable; interesting particularly in subtropical places like Florida, where it is said to be the only tree species that flowers every day of the year. Flowers good for honey production. Young pods cooked as a vegetable. Seeds yield 38 to 40% of a nondrying oil, known as Ben Oil, used in arts and for lubricating watches and other delicate machinery. Haitians obtain the oil by crushing browned seeds and boiling in water. Oil is clear, sweet and odorless, said never to become rancid (not true, according to Ramachandran et al.).384 It is edible and used in the manufacture of perfumes and hairdressings. Wood yields blue dye. Leaves and young branches are relished by livestock. Commonly planted in Africa as a living fence (Hausa) tree. Ochse238 notes an interesting agroforestry application; the thin crown throws a slight shade on kitchen gardens, which is “more useful than detrimental to the plants”. Trees planted on graves are believed to keep away hyenas and its branches are used as charms against witchcraft. In Taiwan, treelets are spaced 15 cm apart to make a living fence, the top of which is lopped off for the calcium- and iron-rich foliage.383 Bark can serve for tanning; it also yields a coarse fiber. Trees are being studied as pulpwood sources in India. Analyses by Mahajan and Sharma385 indicate that the tree is a suitable raw material for producing high alpha-cellulose pulps for use in cellophane and textiles. In rural Sudan, powdered seeds of the tree Moringa oleifera are used to purify drinking water by coagulation. In trials, the powder was toxic to guppies (Poecilia reticulata), protozoa (Tetrahymena pyriformis), and bacteria (Escherichia coli), and it inhibited acetylcholinesterase. It had no 215effect on coliphages, lactic dehydrogenase, or invertase, and the equivalent of cotyledon powder up to 1000 mg/liter had no mutagenic effect on salmonella. Pericarp had no effect. Powdered cotyledon at 5 mg/liter affected oxygen uptake of T. pyriformis, 30 to 40 mg/liter disturbed locomotion of guppies, and the 96-H LC50 for guppies was 196 mg/liter. Toxic effects may have been due to 4(alpha-1-rhamnosyloxy) benzyl isothiocyanate, a glycosidic mustard oil. The toxin seemed not to be a danger to the health of man, at least not in the concentrations present during the use of the seeds for nutrition, medicine, or water purification.386 For the low-turbidity waters of the Blue Nile, only a quarter seed per liter of water is required, for moderately turbid water, half a seed, and for fully turbid, 1 to 1.5 seeds per liter. Such seed are hulled, crushed, and reduced to a powder.387