As survivalists, we’re always looking for multi-use items that can help to keep us alive in the case of life-changing disaster. We’ll show you a tree that is nearly completely edible, can grow to a usable size in just a couple of months, and can be used for nutritional, medical and water filtration purposes.
We’re talking about the Moringa tree and once you read this article, we’re betting that you’re going to want to grow one (or 10) of your own for survival!
What Is a Moringa Tree?
The Moringa tree, or Moringa oleifera if you want to get scientific, is a tree native to the southern foothills of the Himalayas. It currently grows in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Oceana and southern North America. It grows best in well-drained soil and thrives in warm weather. It doesn’t do well in the cold; the plant will die if in temperatures below freezing and if the roots freeze, it won’t come back.
Moringas grow rapidly; the seed may begin to sprout in as little as two days and the plant will have viable fruit within its first season. In a year, it can grow up to 16 feet.
All of the fruit is edible (and actually tasty) in the first season but in following seasons may become bitter or foul-tasting. Though the plant is perennial, many people choose to grow it as an annual for this reason. You can grow it from a seed or from a trimming though a seed is usually the easiest, fastest way to go.
Though the tree will grow to heights of 30 feet or better, it’s best to keep it trimmed back to 3.5-4 feet so that you can harvest the pods and leaves easily. Trimming it back as it grows will encourage low-limb leaf growth so that it gets bushier and produces more leaves, flowers and pods.
Where Can the Moringa Grow?
Since the Moringa grows and produces so quickly and is prolific, it may be possible to grow it as an annual in colder climates. Those in the know are currently searching for viable ways to grow it in the middle and northern states. It grows well in the warm weather and dry soil of the tropics and subtropics such as Florida, southern Texas and California, and the USDA currently has it listed as a zone 9 and 10 plant. Arizona, New Mexico and other states may have a great deal of success, too.
What Can Be Used on the Moringa?
Like we said earlier, you can use every part of the Moringa tree. It grows pods, known as drumsticks, that can be eaten like asparagus when the shoots are young. Once the pods mature, you can eat it kind of like you eat okra or you can open them up and scoop out the insides. The leaves are eaten raw, cooked like spinach or dried and used in foods or drinks.
The flowers shouldn’t be eaten raw but they’re great fried, grilled or boiled. If you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t eat them at all because they are abortifacient. The seeds in the drumsticks produce ben oil which can be eaten, used for medicinal purposes or to lubricate machinery. The roots are dried and used in food or in tea too. Finally, the cakes that are left after the oil is extracted from the seeds can be used to filter water. How’s that for a multipurpose survival tool?
What Kind of Nutrients Are in the Moringa Tree?
The nutrient profile on this plant is truly amazing. When we looked it up, we actually double-checked the source because we were a bit suspicious. Here are just a few of the top nutritional benefits of the leaves:
- About 6x more vitamin C than an orange.
- About 3x more potassium than a banana.
- About 4x more calcium than milk.
- About 4x more beta-carotene than carrots.
- About 3x more iron than spinach or beef.
- The powder made from leaves has about 10x the RDA of vitamin E.
Though the leaves are the most nutritious in general, the pods, seeds and flowers also have a ton of nutrients. The seeds in the pods have about the same amount of protein as soy but don’t trigger an allergic reaction like soy does. They also contain all 9 essential amino acids.
Healing Properties of the Moringa
Research has shown that the plant sterol beta-sitosterol found in the Moringa tree reduces bad cholesterol levels and improves other lipid levels in the blood, too. Here are some more medical uses for the Moringa:
- Preventing and treating enlarged prostate
- Reduces growth of prostate and colon cancer cells
- Boosts the immune system
- Acts as an anti-inflammatory
- Helps stabilize blood sugar
- Helps with cramps
- Helps heal ulcers (likely because of the high vitamin E content)
- Supports pancreatic health
- Helps slow the signs of aging because of the chlorophyll and other antioxidants.
- Promotes eye health because it has extraordinary amounts of lutein
- Did we mention that it reduces bad cholesterol and other blood lipids??
These are just a few of the benefits of the Moringa tree. Our goal was just to introduce you to the tree because we figured if it was new to us, it was probably going to be new to at least a few of you too. As we learn more about it, we’ll keep you posted. Look for more articles about incorporating the Moringa tree into your survival plan.
If you have any info to share or any particular information that you’d like to learn more about, please leave us a note in the comments section below.
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.