Moringa oleifera Lam (synonym: Moringa pterygosperma Gaertner) belongs to a onogeneric family of shrubs and tree, Moringaceae and is considered to have its origin in Agra and Oudh, in the northwest region of India, south of the Himalayan Mountains. Even though the name “Shigon” for M. oleifera is mentioned in the “Shushruta Sanhita” which was written in the start of the first century A.D., there is evidence that the cultivation of this tree in India extends back many thousands of years. The Indians knew that the seeds contain edible oil and they used them for medicinal purposes. It is probable that the common people also knew of its value as a fodder or vegetable. This tree can be found growing naturally at elevations of up to 1,000 m above sea level. It can grow well on hillsides but is more frequently found growing on pastureland or in river basins. It is a fast growing tree and has been found to grow to 6 – 7 m in one year in areas receiving under 400 mm mean annual rainfall.
In the Dravidian language, there are numerous local names for this tree but are all derived from the generic root “Morunga”. In English it is popularly known as Horseradish tree, Drumstick tree, Never Die tree, West Indian Ben tree, and Radish tree.
It is now cultivated through the entire Middle East, and in almost the whole tropical belt. It was introduced in Eastern Africa from India at the outset of the Twentieth century. In Nicaragua the Marango (local term for Moringa oleifera) was introduced in the 1920s as an ornamental plant and for use as a live fence. The tree grows best and is most commonly located in the Pacific part of Nicaragua but can be found in forest inventories in each and every part of the country. As a non-cultivated plant it is known for its ability to resist drought and diseases. Because this tree has countless potential uses. The plant possesses many valuable properties which makes it of great scientific interest. Included in this are the high protein content of the leaves twigs and stems, the high protein and oil contents of the seeds, the large quantity of unique polypeptides in seeds that can bind to many moieties, the existence of growth factors in the leaves, and the high sugar and starch content of the entire plant. Essential is the fact that few portions of the tree contain any toxins that may decrease its potential as a source of food for animals or humans.
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