Botanical Name: Moringa oleifera
Some other names: Horseradish Tree, Moringa, Ben oil tree, Benzolive
How to grow it: Drumstick tree is a leguminous tree to 10 m which originates in Asia but is grown around the world in subtropical/tropical climates.
It is very hardy – particularly to drought and grows in a wide range of soil types. Does far better in full sun.
It is tender to frost, so may need to be planted every year in cooler climates. Except in tropical areas, expect the plant to die down in winter & re shoot in spring.
Will also do OK in pots, but you’ll need to repot it every year or so, trimming the roots, or you can just grow new ones from seed every spring.
Propogation is by seed or limb cutting – just cut a 1-2m limb off when the plant goes dormant in winter & put it upright into the ground. Once the weather warms up the limb will shoot and you’re on your way to another tree.
Using it in the kitchen:
The raw leaves aren’t especially tasty (nor are they disagreeable), but given their extraordinary nutrition, they could be added to salads & sandwiches with other greens on a regular basis.
They can be added to cooked dishes the same you would any spinach, but remember you’ll probably destroy the vitamin C content – so perhaps adding them at the last minute would be best.
The young seedpods can be cooked like green beans – the flavour’s quite simliar actually, and the dried beans can be cooked into stews and casseroles or fried or roasted like nuts.
If you search the plant on the internet, you’ll find many other uses in many cultures. A truly versatile and hardy plant and surely one of the best survival plants available to us!