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The Drumstick Tree - Moringa

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A few drumsticks on our Moringa trees

A few drumsticks on our Moringa trees

Moringa - the tree that grows Drumsticks!

Rapidly gaining worldwide attention, especially in the edible landscaping arena, is a fast-growing, extremely valuable tropical tree - commonly called "The Drumstick Tree".

It is more accurately called the Moringa Tree, and it is one of the most beneficial trees that can be grown. This unusual tree produces quite an abundant harvest of edible leaves, and it also grows "drumsticks" that are from 1 foot to 4 feet long, bursting with plump, edible seeds. The tree is quite well known in many countries outside the US, by a long list of various names. What is Moringa called elsewhere, did you say?

Well, in the Philippines, it is called Malunggay and Marungay, in Haiti, it is known as Benzolive, and in Punjab, they call it Surajana. In Nicaragua, it is called Marango, and worldwide, other names for Moringa are: Murunga, Sojina, Murungai Maram, Sahjan, Noorggaee, Brède Mouroum, Saragvo, Kelor, Shobhanjana...and the list goes on.

Those "monikers" usually refer to Moringa Oleifera, the most commonly grown variety of Moringa. Not only is it a beautiful tree, in its own right, but it is a very desirable tree to grow, nutritionally speaking. Moringa is also used extensively in industry, but that - is another story. The leaves are intensely bright green, and quite profuse. The Moringa Oleifera's leaves are small and shaped like a chubby almond - a GREEN one! Their seeds are winged, round, brown, and triangular - now, figure THAT one out!

THIS IS WHERE YOU CAN SEE THE DIFFERENCES IN THEIR LEAVES

The Moringa Stenopetala, also called the African Moringa, has leaves that are just a bit darker green, as a rule - and at least twice the size of the Moringa Oleifera's leaves. Their seeds are almond-shaped, light tan or blonde, and velvety to the touch. Very different seeds, they are, but they grow the same type of tree - a Moringa tree!

Once the tree has produced buds and flower blossoms, it starts to put out green pods, which at first sight, resemble a green string bean. That doesn't last long, because they rapidly get very long, and plump with seeds. Once the seed pods have turned brown, and "crackle" when you touch them, the drumsticks are ready to harvest for their seeds.

Immature Pods from our Moringa Oleifera trees - see why they are called "Drumsticks"?

Pods from our Moringa Oleifera trees - see why they are called "drumsticks"?

Pods from our Moringa Oleifera trees - see why they are called "drumsticks"?

Granddaughter holding immature drumstick from one of our Moringa Oleifera seeds. See how many seeds are in the pod? Every "bump", is a seed.

Granddaughter holding immature drumstick from one of our Moringa Oleifera seeds. See how many seeds are in the pod? Every "bump", is a seed.

A Granddaughter with Moringa Drumstick

Here is one of my dearly beloved granddaughters, with one of our drumsticks, growing from one of our young Moringa Oleifera trees.

Take a look behind my granddaughter, off to the right, and you will see how slender these young trees are. They were young trees, when this photo was taken about 6 years ago. Now, the trunks are huge. The drumstick she is holding appears to be just about as thick as the trunk of the tree, doesn't it? Well, on some of them, it is!

The "lumps" or "bumps" you see, are from the seeds filling out the drumstick pods. Eventually, this pod will probably be about twice as thick as it is in the photo. The photo of the pods above, are to show you how they fill out. We cannot plant the seeds from them, though, as they are not mature yet, and they will not grow. The pods remain on the trees for about 2 months, until they are brown and dry to the touch. THEN, we harvest them, and crack them open to get the seeds. Sometimes we have over 35 seeds in one pod!

You can get an idea of how long some of the drumsticks are, by looking at the photo. My granddaughter was not quite 5 feet tall when I took this photo, so you can see, the drumstick pods are not tiny.

This particular granddaughter has helped her "Granny", that's me, trim the Moringa trees several times, and used to have some of her own, at home. She walks along beside me, and holds the bag. I chop the branches into small chunks, and fill the bags. Sometimes, we switch roles, and I can tell - she'd prefer to chop and trim.

We get SO many leaves and pods, that we often cannot utilize them all, as Moringa trees are very prolific producers.

More of our Moringa drumsticks

More of our Moringa drumsticks

Another Photo of Moringa Drumsticks

Look how long they are!

Here are a few of our Moringa drumsticks, from the summer of 2009. They grow to their full length, quite rapidly - usually, within a few weeks. It takes them a great deal longer, to mature.

Some of ours just didn't seem to want to "grow up"! The drumsticks, that is, because the trees grow like they have been infused with adrenaline.

After the flower blossoms appear, you will see tiny, little "green beans" show up, where some of the flowers were. They tend to come out a little "curvy", but quickly straighten out, "plump out", and get very long. Can you see why the tree is often called - "The Drumstick Tree"?

Those drumsticks are one of the strangest things that grow, at least - in my opinion. The Moringa trees are so delicate when they are young. Frankly, the Moringa Oleiferas always look delicate, and to have those long, "lumpy" drumstick pods hanging from them, looks so very odd!

He Wrote the Book FOR Me!

Let "Morey" tell you! - "Morey" is our Moringa Oleifera seed...

"Morey" our Moringa Oleifera seed

"Morey" our Moringa Oleifera seed

Morey, The Moringa Oleifera Seed

Allow me to introduce "Morey", the little Moringa seed. Morey was my favorite Moringa seed, so I made him into a character, years ago. He sits currently in a little jar, on my desk.

This little guy lives for three things:

  • to make people happy and healthy
  • to plant more trees, and
  • to tell everyone why they should learn all

about "The Drumstick Tree", Moringa!

(We own his copyright, so we have permission to use his image. He is delighted!)

  • Morey the Moringa Oleifera Seed
    Our mascot, "Morey" just loves to tell people about the tree he becomes. He's a busy little fellow, but always has time to share about Moringa, so we'll let him take over from here. (Actually, he has more time on his hands, than we do!)
  • Moringa Pods
    The seeds from the Moringa tree grow in long, green, lumpy pods. When they are young, we eat them like green beans. When they are about halfway through maturity, we chop them, and sauté them lightly. They taste like asparagus!

Photo credits:

All images portrayed here were photographed by the author - E. Tack

© 2010 Emily Tack

Tell us what you think! - Comments are welcome, and appreciated!

Helle on August 17, 2016:

I was cooking Moringa drumsticks for the first time yesterday. They were really tasty inside but the outside felt like I was eating string. What went wrong?

Emily Tack (author) from USA on March 06, 2015:

peachpurple, I am always amazed at how long they are! Sometimes, they almost touch the ground, from some of our very young trees.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on March 04, 2015:

wow, i didn't know moringa has such long drumsticks.

ViJuvenate on January 24, 2013:

I love to grow ANYthing edible. Are they only good in tropical locations?

exit9to5pro on February 09, 2011:

Very nice lens, what an amazing botanical!!

emmaklarkins on October 22, 2010:

Sometimes it amazes me how little I know about the world I live in. I think that there are tons of beneficial plants out there, and that we should really focus on learning more about them. Blessed by a Squidoo Angel!

norma-holt on March 23, 2010:

Certainly an interesting plant. Top marks and lens rolled to Save Planet Earth

Norma

anonymous on March 16, 2010:

Very Nicely done. Now if I can figure out how to keep them alive in the winter, I will have it made

Emily Tack (author) from USA on March 13, 2010:

@askfault: Ah, now that's a subject for another post! Yes, it does, and thank you!

askfault on March 13, 2010:

Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge on moringa. Very well written and descriptive. Didn't waste my time when I read them.

On a side note, I've heard rumor that moringa might have something to do with restoring gray hair to it natural color.

Perhaps another reason to eat moringa.