The Moringa Oleifera plant

01 April, 2013

From VOA Learning English, this is the Agricultural Report in Special English.

A listener in Nigeria, Gaddafii Addam, has asked us to talk about the Moringa Oleifera plant. This kind of shrub or tree is grown for food and other uses.

We spoke with Gary Moore, a plant expert at the Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the United States Department of Agriculture. He told us the plant is high in protein, and rich in vitamins and mineral.

"It’s sometimes used as one of the most nutritious plants in the world. It has a lot of nutritional values, and much of the plants can be used for food. So it is not just the fruit that can be taken, but it is unusual plant that the leaves, the fruits, the roots and the seeds are all used in one way or another for food."

The plant is known by different names around the world. Moringa Oleifera is native to the foothills of the Himalayans, from Pakistan to Eastern India. Because it is native to that area, much of the research on the plant has been done by scientists in Pakistan and India. Its native range is narrow. But the plant is grown throughout the world. So its introduced range is broad.

In the United States, it has been introduced in Hawaii, Florida and Puerto Rico. Gary Moore from the Agricultural Department says the plant doesn’t like the cold, but it can grow in many areas.

"It can not tolerate freezing, and it has pretty high temperature tolerances, maybe about 120 degrees Fahrenheit, 49 degrees Celsius. And so, it can grow, you know, in areas where you do not get any excessive freezing. It also has a significant drought tolerance, so it can be grown in quite dry areas. It can also grow in higher moisture areas where you get rainfall of over 85 inches a year. So it has a lot of tolerances that quite good for growing it in a large part of the world, but you are not going to find it where there is excessive freezing."

He says the plant can be used for different kinds of food.

"The leaves can be boiled and can be eaten in curry dishes. The fruit is usually skinned, so you take the skinner to peel off. And it can be sliced and eaten either cooked or pickled. And it has a taste very similar to asparagus."

The roots of the plant can be dug up, peeled and used as a seasoning in the same way as horseradish.

Moringa Oleifera is related to mustard, so it can give a sharp taste. The seeds in the fruit can be fried and taste like peanuts. The seeds are rich in oil that can be used for salad oil. But the bark of the Moringa Oleifera tree can be poisonous, so be sure to remove it.

And that is the VOA Special English Agricultural Report. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our reports are at We are also on Facebook, Youtube and Twitter at VOA Learning English. I am Christopher Cruise.