Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Moringa, Drumstick Tree, Horseradish Tree, Ben Oil Tree, Benzoil Tree
Moringa oleifera

Family: Moringaceae
Genus: Moringa (moh-RIN-guh) (Info)
Species: oleifera (oh-lee-IF-er-uh) (Info)

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

65 members have or want this plant for trade.

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15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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10 positives
3 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive istcallst On Sep 4, 2014, istcallst from Istanbul
Turkey wrote:

I love this tree, it grown well in a large container on the balcony. Overwintered it indoors and the second year it is flowering now. I read it takes about 3 months form blossom to fruit?

Positive worldschoiceinc On Jun 12, 2012, worldschoiceinc from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

A good site to share information about health and nature. Congrats and thank you...

Positive Crikey On Feb 24, 2012, Crikey from Muscat
Oman wrote:

It grows very well in Muscat, Oman, by the sea.

Positive satellite On Feb 1, 2012, satellite from Cape Coral, FL wrote:

Been growing the plant for quite some time. Highly underutilized. Not so sure why some sources are hesitant to post nutritional analysis of the leaves. This is public knowledge. Check ECHO for information. The group is quite serious with its research. I should know. I worked for them for five years in management. One thing I would recommend for gardeners here is to explore the leaf mass and wood material as an alternative to store bought fertilizer. Living in SW Florida,I potentially have the worse gardening soil imaginable. Whether as a compost, green manure or green manure tea. This stuff is powerful. Seeds are cheap and easy to grow. It is a tropical. Expect it to freeze below freezing temps.

Negative saltcedar On Sep 2, 2011, saltcedar from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Dead at 16f after a 3-day freeze.

Positive MoringaMorey On Jul 22, 2010, MoringaMorey from Bradenton, FL wrote:

Some information, and a cautionary statement:
I grow and sell Moringa Oleifera and Moringa Stenopetala seeds and seedlings. I warn people NOT to eat the root, as a horseradish subsitute, as the root bark contains a powerful neurotoxin. Consuming too much of the root bark can be potentially fatal. There is no specific information, from any of the intense research conducted on Moringa, that specifically states HOW much, is TOO much. For that reason, we caution everyone, on our websites and in person, not to eat the root.
Despite the fact that this is a common practice, in many countries, it is a dangerous practice.
We currently grow Moringa in Sarasota and Bradenton, FL. They do not like temperatures that are below 50F, however, ours survived temperatures in the 30F range, the winter of 2009. They lost their leaves, and appeared lifeless, but as soon as the weather warmed up, they were back in full force.

Neutral Sobha On Jun 24, 2010, Sobha wrote:

I have this tree for about 3 years now. 1 year in the pot and now we put it in the ground, it grew well in size, but it not bearing any fruit..At this time,there is not a single leaf on the tree. The tree looks healthy and it grew to almost 9 ft tall. Last year, there were small fruits, but because of the wind and the frost bite, they never grew. Any tips to grow a healthy tree will be very helpful. We live in Phoenix, AZ.
Thanks in advance

Positive antshrike On May 26, 2010, antshrike from Weslaco, TX wrote:

Here in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas many or our nurses and doctors come from the Philippines and almost all of them grow "malunggay" trees in their yards. Our trees come from seeds of trees planted by my wife's grandfather on the island of Cebu. She regularly uses the leaves in making chicken tinola (soup). I'm sure they would be good in salads also. The "tree" never gets very tall as new branches are havested for soup. We cut it back over the winter to make the new shoots more accessible.

Positive ChayaMan On Sep 29, 2009, ChayaMan from Largo, FL wrote:

Some of the best info on this tree comes from ECHO in Ft. Myers, FL ( I have been growing Moringa oleifera and M. stenopetala since 2002, and a friend has several trees near Pt. Harcourt, Nigeria. Here are some facts:

Growing from seed: Soak seeds overnight before planting. Seeds can be started indoors, but must be moved outdoors as soon as practical. The seedlings grow tall and thin, and need wind to strengthen the trunk, lest they fall over. Seedlings and young trees are a favorite browse for deer and other herbivores, and so must be protected. Seed sown directly in the ground produces a very deep taproot, which will continue until enough water/moisture is reached, even at the expense of not growing the trunk or leaves. Because of this taproot, the tree is very drought-resistant, once established, and will recover even from a hard freeze (hence one of its names, the "Never-Die" Tree). However, container trees can be killed by 8 hours @ 26 degrees. Trees often grow 15 feet the first year, and may reach a maximum height of 65 feet. The wood is brittle, so the trees should not be planted near houses, where a limb might break off in the wind.

Pods: Small pods eaten green, as green beans. For middle-sized pods, before the seeds distort the pod, take the seeds and use them as cooked beans, or roast them, as with peanuts; the seeds have a peanutty flavor. For old, mature pods, take the dry seeds, dehull them and grind them into an extremely nutritious flour.

The mature, dried seeds of M. oleifera yield what was considered the finest watchmaking quality lubricant available. The purified and strained oil is of very fine quality and does not gum or turn rancid. Only modern synthetic oils approach "Ben Oil" (or "Benzoil") in quality.

For water purification, take 1 to 1.5 seeds which haved matured and dried on the tree per 1 Quart of water. Grind the seed(s) into powder and add them to the water. Shake well. Allow to stand minimum 4 hours in direct sunlight. Carefully pour off resultant clean water and boil, as a secondary measure.

Flowers: Edible, and one of the best sources of nectar for Honeybees; highly recommended tree for beekeepers.

Leaves: One of the best - if not *the* best - sources of plant-based nutrition. Strip leaves off and remove as much stem as possible (it does not soften with cooking, reminding the diner of chewing on fine wire). Leaves can be eaten raw, used in salads, boiled (the water is nutritious), baked, stir-fried or used in any recipe calling for Spinach (although M. oleifera leaves are about 11 times more nutritious than Spinach!).

Root: The young taproot may be harvested and the covering scraped off for use as a Horseradish substitute (although I personally value my trees too highly to kill them for their roots!) The raw mature leaves may also, upon occasion, have quite a spicy Horseradish tang to them.

One funny thing M. oleifera trees may do: The trees usually begin to bloom at 18 months, plus or minus. The first time they begin to bloom, the branches on some trees may become very flexible, almost rubbery, even to the point of being able to tie the branch into a loose knot. If your branches do so, and you do not want this behavior, stake upright until they have bloomed and set pods. You may also be able to re-form the branch by hand sufficiently to make it stand on its own.

Care: M. oleifera prefers Full/Partial Sun and may be planted as little as 1 foot apart to make a living, harvestable fence. Unless grown as a specimen, the trees should be cut back to 3 feet once they reach 6-9 feet; the trunk will branch profusely, and these branches should be pinched or pruned when they reach 12-18 inches length.

M. oleifera will tolerate many other plants to be grown close to it, as apparently it uses nutrients other plants do not. The single exception I have found to this is that Waterleaf (Talinum triangulare) will cause Moringa spp. (and many other plants) to fail. Waterleaf is a good food plant in its own right, but should be grown away from other garden plants.

One cautionary note: The leaves of a close relative, M. stenopetala, are larger and easier to harvest, although they are not as nutritionally complete as those of M. oleifera. The leaves of M. stenopetala should not be eaten as a steady diet because of a higher amount of hydrocyanic acid in the leaves; health problems have been documented where M. stenopetala is the principle dietary food.

Neutral actoon On May 21, 2007, actoon from Satellite Beach, FL wrote:

This tree is growing in my neighbors back yard. It has been there for about 15 years with no die back. It is about 30 feet tall and the trunk is about 20 inches in diameter. The only problem is the root system is large and tends to destroy plumbing pipes in the area. It needs a large area to grow away from any water sources which the roots seem to seek out.

Neutral mia01 On Aug 31, 2006, mia01 from karachi
Pakistan wrote:

mia01 31 aug 06 Karachi

I agree with 8900. This tree really has many gifts for mankind : not only can the tender leaves, buds and flowers be cooked and eaten, but the bean also is said to have healing properties to help sufferers of arthritis. The tender beans are boiled in water and if this water is strained and drunk regularly, it is said to relieve the pain of arthritis and even prevent it. The only drawback of this tree is the mess it generates, leaf seed and flowers fall so profusely that no sooner is it cleared that it needs clearing all over again!

Positive 8900 On Apr 29, 2004, 8900 wrote:

This is a quote from the book: Living Big by Pam Grout, pg. 94. "Take world hunger,
for example. Balbir Mathur, a Wichita, Kansas businessman, has found a tree, a simple
tree with leaves so nutritious that it almost sounds like a magic potion. The leaves of
the drumstick tree, as the tree is called, have 7 times as much vitamin C as an
orange, 3 times as much potassium as a banana, and 4 times as much vitamin A
as a carrot. One tree can practically wipe out world hunger in a small village in a
developing country.
Not only that, but its seeds can purify water, its bark and roots are also
edible, and it grows easily and quickly in poor soil.
Since l984, Mathus has planted 30 million drumstick trees in impoverished
countries around the world. As Mathur says, "Miracles still happen, but it's people
who cause miracles."
I lived in Mazatlan, Mexico and these trees were around. At the time I did not
know these properties, but that area was tropical and they grew easily there. The
seed pods would dry out and the children used them for home-made maracas. I
was unaware if the natives knew these uses for them. I didn't see them eat any
part of it, or hear about it. I am very intrigued however! The trees seemed to
grow wild by the side of the road, just about anywhere.

Positive pixy242 On Mar 5, 2004, pixy242 from oshawa
Canada wrote:

The fruit (i.e. the flesh inside and the seeds), flower, and tender leaves of this tree are edible and commonly used as a vegetable in India.

The bean should be eaten before the seed starts to harden and the flesh loses its sweetness.

Positive Thaumaturgist On Jul 16, 2003, Thaumaturgist from Rockledge, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

This tree had died at least 3 times that I know of from freeze in the last 15 years. It had come back every time and bore fruit. The current property owner had cut down
the tree totally to redo her landscaping. A branch came
out from the old trunk and is now about 16 ft tall bearing
There is a newer specie of Moringa available now in the US called the African Moringa, Moringa stenopetala.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Phoenix, Arizona (3 reports)
Tucson, Arizona
Corona, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Bartow, Florida
Bradenton, Florida
Cape Coral, Florida
Deland, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Lake Worth, Florida
Largo, Florida
Loxahatchee, Florida
Merritt Island, Florida (2 reports)
Mulberry, Florida
North Fort Myers, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Safety Harbor, Florida
Sarasota, Florida (2 reports)
Satellite Beach, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Umatilla, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
New Orleans, Louisiana
Coal Center, Pennsylvania
Weslaco, Texas

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