20 Aug

Moringa Oleifera, the Miracle Tree

This post is third in the Native Trees of Pakistan series.

The Indian sub-continent is home of amazing flora and fauna. The flowers, fruits, shrubs, herbs and trees of this region are well known for their spectacular beauty, mesmerizing fragrance, exotic colors and wonderful uses. In this post, I am writing about Moringa Oleifera, which is widely accepted as The Miracle Tree.

Moringa Oleifera tree can be used as a water purifier, for curing a number of diseases, in exotic recipes, and as an excellent source of nutrition. In fact, it is now promoted as prime source of nutrition in a number of countries to combat malnutrition. According to a research by Optima of Africa, 25 grams of Moringa leaf powder contains 24% Protein, 125% Calcium, 61% Magnesium, 41% Potassium, 71% Iron, 272% Vitamin A, and 22% Vitamin C – No wonder it is called Miracle Tree.

moringa-oleifera-leaves

Photo © Forest & Kim Starr

Moringa Oleifera has many names – it is called clarifier tree, horseradish tree and drumstick tree (because of its drumstick shaped seed pods). Locally it is known as Sonjna or Sohanjna.

moringa oleifera seed pods

Photo © healthfulhealthtips.com

Propagation of Moringa Oleifera as House Plant

Moringa Oleifera is a fast growing tree; it can reach the height of 3 meters in just 10 months after the seed is planted. Because of its deep roots, it does not require much water. Thus, it can grow in dry regions and survive long droughts. However, it bears prolific flowers and seed pods when it is watered sufficiently. In certain regions where Moringa trees receive continuous rainfall, they can produce flowers abundantly throughout the year.

Moringa Oleifera can be propagated by planting limb cuttings 1–2 m long, during hot and humid periods. The plant starts bearing pods 6–8 months after planting but regular bearing starts after the second year. The peak time for flowering is usually between March and April and again in September and October.

moringa oleifera flowers

Photo © Mahdi Karim

Moringa Oleifera trees do not need much fertilizer. For commercial production, manure or compost can be mixed with the soil for better yield. Additionally, phosphorus can be added to encourage the growth of roots and nitrogen can be used to encourage leaf growth. Moringa Oleifera has a short life span – approximately 20 years.

Uses of Moringa Oleifera

Moringa Oleifera has a number of medical and culinary uses. The leaves are believed to stabilize blood pressure and control glucose level. They are also used in the treatment of anxiety, diarrhea and inflammation of the colon, skin infections, scurvy, intestinal parasites, and many other conditions – miracle tree, indeed.

moringa oleifera seeds

Photo © Forest & Kim Starr

Besides medicinal uses, seed pods are extremely nutritious, containing essential amino acids and vitamins. Moringa Oleifera leaves are also known for their culinary use – they are used in salads, in vegetable curries, as pickles and for seasoning. The Ben Oil which is extracted from seeds in used for lubricating watches and other delicate machinery as well as in the manufacturing of perfumes and hairdressings. The bark and wood are used for dying and tanning. The tree itself can be used as a fence.

Moringa Oleifera tree is a native tree of Pakistan, India, Arabia and the East Indies. It is also cultivated in Africa, Central and South America, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and the Philippines.

28 Jun

Ginkgo Biloba – The Ultimate Survivor

Ginkgo Biloba belongs the Ginkgophyta division of the Plant kingdom. This is one of the oldest surviving species and the only plant of its kind having no relative plants, that is why, it is also called living fossil or fossil tree. The oldest known living tree of Ginkgo about 3,000 years old and is located in Shandong province of China. Fossilized Ginkgo trees dating back 200 million years prove that they have survived various ice ages.

ginkgo biloba leaves

Photo © www.parks.It

Habits

Ginkgo Biloba is a hardy plant and can be grown easily as it is capable of surviving in various conditions. They are said to have survived nuclear explosions at Hiroshima. Ginkgo Biloba trees prefer moderately hot climate and grow well under full to partial sun. The growth is somewhat slow; on average it takes thirty years to reach maturity. A fully grown Ginkgo Biloba tree can attain an average height of about 120 feet in its natural condition.

Ginkgo Biloba is dioecious – meaning they have separate male and female plants. They usually bloom in March and April. The female plants bear flowers whereas male plants produce yellowish catkins. Fruits are smelly and grow on female plants therefore most commercial cultivators grow male plants. The leaves are fan-shaped and have a span of around 3 inches. They turn yellow in the fall before dropping off.

ginkgo biloba fruits

Photo © efloras.org

Tips for Growers

Since Ginkgo Biloba is resistant to severe environmental conditions and soil. It can be grow easily as a house plant or garden tree as compared to other tree species. Commercially, Ginkgo Biloba is grown for medicinal purposes but it can also be grown as ornamental plant or lawn tree as well. It can also be turned in to an excellent bonsai tree.

ginkgo biloba tree

Photo © Kevin C. Nixon

When growing Ginkgo Biloba as house plant, provide it with loamy soil with good drainage (the soil can be supplemented with organic manures and compost) and select a place where it gets good sunlight for a couple of hours. Plants that grow in a sunny condition develop better foliage and fruits. Seeds can be sowed in late fall. Young seedlings should be protected from frost and harsh environmental conditions. Seedlings can be planted in garden soil during spring. Young plants should be watered carefully as they cannot tolerate excessive moisture.

The growing cycle starts in May and ends around September. A young plant can gain approximately 30 cm of height each year. The plants in my collection are two years old.

ginkgo biloba young plants

Photo © The Lovely Plants

Medicinal Uses

Ginkgo Biloba is known for its medicinal value and is used to cure a number of medical conditions and diseases including loss of memory, circulatory problems, premenstrual syndrome, alzheimer, asthma , hypertension and high blood pressure.

Self-medication or any use without medical supervision, however, is never recommended.

Culinary Uses

Nuts from Ginkgo Biloba seeds are considered a delicacy in China and other Asian countries. They are served roasted or boiled with meal and also used in oriental dishes, soup and porridge.

Origin

Ginkgo Biloba is considered native of Eastern China.