NOTICE: Hard copies of the Australian New Crops Newsletter are available from the publisher, Dr Rob Fletcher. Details of availability are included in theAdvice on Publications Available.
[These notes have been contributed by Geoff Wilson, Agrovision Publishing, 359 Broadwater Rd, Mansfield, Queensland 4122; Facsimile: 07 3343 8287; International facsimile: 61 7 3343 8287]
Noel Vietmeyer, of the US National Academy of Sciences, Washington said in late 1992:
"Although few people have ever heard of it today, Moringa could soon become one of the world's most valuable plants, at least in humanitarian terms. Perhaps the fastest-growing of all trees, it commonly reaches three metres in height just 10 months after the seed is planted. Furthermore, it has more than a dozen important uses, yielding, among other things, several types of food as well as oil, wood, paper, shade, beautification and liquid fuel.
These statements had followed a report published in the New Scientist in December 1983 that the seeds of this tree were used in the Sudan and Peru to purify muddy river water. As well, they were reported to have "some anti-microbial activity as well".
The report also mentioned trials by pharmacologists at Gadja Mada University in Indonesia which "showed that one crushed kelor seed can clear 90% of the total coliform bacteria in a litre of river water within 20 minutes. Laboratory tests on mice showed that even if 2,000 seeds were used per litre of water ...there were no toxic effects on mice".
Indonesians eat both the leaves and seed pods of the kelor tree as vegetables and they are reported to taste like asparagus. In India, Moringa fruits are added to curries and are canned and sold in stores. Ben oil, a fine oil used by watchmakers, is produced from the seeds from this tree.
The kelor tree can grow well in the humid tropics or hot drylands; it can survive blistering heat, desiccating dryness and destitute soils.
Professor Betsy Jaques, Botany Department, James Cook University in Townsville has observed kelor trees growing well in Charters Towers and the Queensland mining town of Croydon. She also believes that Darwin could be a happy hunting ground for kelor tree enthusiasts.
Michael D Benge, agroforestry officer of the U.S Bureau for Science and Technology in the Agency for International Development in Washington DC, reported in 1987 that the leaves of Moringa were "high in vitamins A and C and a cupful of leaves provides more than the recommended daily allowance. They have the general characteristics of a leafy vegetable and are rich in calcium and iron and are a very good source of phosphorus. They are particularly valuable for their calcium and iron contents. The young fruits (pods) have the general characteristics of a succulent vegetable but are rather high in protein."
Almost every part of the kelor tree is apparently edible, even its roots. In some parts of the world it is referred to as the horse-radish tree, because its bulbous roots taste like horse radish. The flowers can also be eaten, but they provide honey nectar for bees. The kelor tree has been recorded flowering every day of the year.
The only disadvantage of the kelor tree apparent so far is that it is a host for paw-paw powdery mildew.
Any claims made by authors in the Australian New Crops Newsletter are presented by the Editors in good faith. Readers would be wise to critically examine the circumstances associated with any claims to determine the applicability of such claims to their specific set of circumstances. This material can be reproduced, with the provision that the source and the author (or editors, if applicable) are acknowledged and the use is for information or educational purposes. Contact with the original author is probably wise since the material may require updating or amendment if used in other publications. Material sourced from the Australian New Crops Newsletter cannot be used out of context or for commercial purposes not related to its original purpose in the newsletter
Contact: Dr Rob Fletcher, School of Land and Food, The University of Queensland Gatton College, 4345; Telephone: 07 5460 1311 or 07 5460 1301; Facsimile: 07 5460 1112; International facsimile: 61 7 5460 1112; Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
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originally created by:GK; latest update 6 June 1999 by: RF