By Elizabeth Warburton-Smith

Moringa Oleifera (also called Tree of Life, Miracle Tree, and Drumstick Tree) has been cultivated for countless centuries in India, Africa, the Philippines, and other parts of the world for its highly nutritious and medicinal qualities. It is gaining popularity here in North America as more and more of us choose healthy eating and as we become more familiar with the benefits of plant medicine. Moringa leaves are a complete plant protein containing all nine essential amino acids, as well as 92 nutrients and 46 antioxidants. Moringa contains twice the protein and four times the calcium of milk. It also has seven times the Vitamin C in oranges, four times more Vitamin A than carrots, three times more potassium than bananas, and three times more iron than spinach.

According to WebMD, early studies for utilizing Moringa as a medicine look promising with findings showing that Moringa leaf extract may lower inflammation, blood sugar and improve insulin regulation in the blood. Modern scientists also report seeing a slow-down of cancer growth which is very exciting.  

Of course, if you have any specific questions related to your own personal health, medications, or nutritional needs, check with your doctor about your particular situation.

Moringa is easy to grow here in the Sonoran Desert. Simply soak the seeds for 24 hours and then plant either in sandy, loamy soil (not hardpacked caliche) or in a deep pot with organic potting soil. Moringa trees have a very deep tap root so be sure and accommodate for that. The tree will be the size of a shrub after the first frost of winter kills off the leaves, but the trunk and roots will survive and burst with new growth around April. They are drought tolerant so no need to water them too much. We sell seeds and baby Moringa trees to help raise money for the Rita Ranch Community Garden. Email us if you are interested in growing one of these great trees for yourself. Alisha Nichols recently did an informative video interview on our Rita Gardens YouTube channel of myself and her father Al Nichols, one of Civano’s founders, on his knowledge of Moringa trees.

Harvest the leaves fresh and put into smoothies and salads or dry them and make a powder to use through the winter when the tree is bare. One traditional way of eating Moringa is using the leaves in a curry. Here is a wonderful recipe to try:

Sri Lankan Moringa Curry

  • 2-3 cups fresh moringa leaves, stripped from the stems & rinsed
  • 1-2 t. salt
  • 1 t. turmeric powder
  • 1 T. cooking oil
  • ¼ t. mustard seeds
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 or 2 fresh green chilis
  • ½ t. dried red chilis
  • 3 T. grated coconut
  1. Coarsely chop the moringa leaves
  2. Add salt and turmeric to the chopped leaves, mix together and set aside
  3. Heat the oil and add the mustard seed
  4. Add the chopped onion, green chili and dried red chilis
  5. Sauté until the onions are translucent and soft
  6. Lower heat, add chopped moringa leaves, stir well and cover for 2-4 minutes
  7. Remove the lid and cook another 2-4 minutes, stirring constantly this time
  8. Add grated coconut and continue to cook on low heat and stirring constantly for another couple of minutes.
  9. Serve with rice.

Happy Growing!

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