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Drumstick tree, ho...   

Common Name: Drumstick tree, horseradish tree, ben nut
Also Known As: Moringa pterygosperma
Scientific Name: Moringa oleifera
Local Name: Muran’ga gas
Dhivehi Name: މުރަނގަ ގަސް
Plantae  (Kingdom)
Tracheophyta  (Plylum)
Magnoliopsida  (Class)
Moringales  (Order)
Moringaceae  (Family)
Moringa   (Genus)

Drumstick tree, horseradish tree, ben nut's description

A small, fast growing, deciduous to evergreen tree that can grow up to 10 m in height.. Crown is umbrella shaped and open. Branches are slender and drooping. Bark is corky and grey in colour. Leaves are compound, leathery and up to 50 cm long with many small leaflets, which are about 1 to 2 cm long. Terminal leaflet, which is obovate in shape, is usually larger than the lateral leaflets. Lateral leaflets are elliptical in shape. Flowers are white or creamy white in colour, fragrant and 1.5 to 2 cm long, borne in axillary inflorescence. Fruit is a pod, pendulous, triangular in cross section, normally 30 to 50 cm in length but some may be as long as 120 cm. Young fruits are green in colour, turning to brown and splitting into three parts when dry. Each pod contains about 20 dark brown, three-winged seeds, which are embedded in pith.

Drumstick tree, horseradish tree, ben nut's Behavior & Ecology

It is adapted to a wide range of soils but grows well in dry sandy soil. It is highly tolerant to drought but foliage production reduces considerably under continuous water stress. It can be easily propagated by stem cutting and seed. Seeds collected from dry pods can be sown directly. Seedlings, which grow very fast, can be raised in a container for outplanting. Stem cuttings of about 1 m long is normally used for planting. It requires protection against high winds.

Drumstick tree, horseradish tree, ben nut's Relationship with Humans

It is a multipurpose tree and almost every part of the drumstick tree is of value for food. Leaves are used as greens, in soups and salads and in vegetable curries. Pods, which looks like giant beans and taste like asparagus are widely used in curries. Seeds can also be eaten fresh as peas. Flowers are also used as a vegetable. Thickened root of the drumstick tree is used as a substitute for horseradish. Seeds yield sweet high-quality oil called ben oil, which is used in art, salads, and hairdressing and as a lubricant for fine machinery such as that of watches. Leaves, flowers and pods are high in proteins (5 to 10% on average) and rich in vitamins and iron and calcium. Because of the high nutritive value drumstick tree is considered as one of the important trees with reference to nutritional security of rural communities. It is an ideal species for agroforestry in the coastal areas.

Drumstick tree, horseradish tree, ben nut habitat

Moringa oleifera, the drumstick or horseradish tree, is a perennial softwood tree growing to 5–15 metres in height. It does well in humid tropics, as well as hot, dry lands, and is drought tolerant, growing with a minimum water requirement of 250 mm and a maximum of over 3,000 mm (Morton 1991). It grows well in a range of soils including sand and limestone, and requires good drainage (Morton 1991). In the wild, it is found most commonly near riverbeds but occurs throughout plains (Anwar et al. 2007). Its flowers are bisexual and fragrant, with five white petals. Seeds are encased in long green pods which split open into three sections and contain a row of triangular seeds. Seeds sprout in 1-2 weeks, and when grown from seed it develops a deep taproot system, enabling efficient water uptake (Nouman et al. 2014). This tree has rapid growth rates, growing to a height of 4 metres, and producing both flowers and fruits, in 12 months (Sutherland 1994).

Drumstick tree, horseradish tree, ben nut threats

There do not appear to be any threats that would affect M. oleifera's conservation status. The seed pods are collected as a vegetable, which could potentially lead to reductions in genetic diversity, but studies have found strong genetic differentiation (Shahzad et al. 2013, Muluvi et al.1999, Tak and Maurya 2017). However, more studies are needed in all areas of its native range to better understand the threats facing the wild population.

Drumstick tree, horseradish tree, ben nut's status