Moringa oleifera Lamk

Moringa oleifera Lamk




Guilandia moringa L., Moringa pterygosperma Gaertner, Moringa polygona DC.

Vernacular Names


Meringgai, gemunggai.


Horseradish tree, drum-stick tree, West Indian Ben.


Kelor, marunga (Timor).


Malunggay (Tagalog).






`ii h’um.


Marum (General), phakihum (North-eastern), makhonkom (Northern).


Ch[uf]m ng[aas]y.


Ben aile.

Geographical Distributions

Moringa oleifera is indigenous and found growing wild in northern India and Pakistan. It was introduced into Southeast Asia at an early date, and is now cultivated throughout the tropics. In many places, it also occurs more or less naturalised.


Moringa oleifera is a fast-growing, much-branched and often crooked tree or shrub that can grow 3-10 m tall. The stem is 10-30 cm in diametre. Its bark is corky, whitish, grey or pale buff, containing coarse fibre and exuding white gum when wounded. The roots are tuberous with pungent bark.

Its young shoots are purplish or greenish-white and usually hairy. The leaves are 2-3-pinnate, measure up to 60 cm long with 4-6 pairs of pinnae, articulated, caducous, and somewhat crowded towards the twig-ends. The petiole is 4-15 cm long while the petiolule is 1-6 mm. There are 6-11 leaflets which are elliptical or obovate, measuring 0.5-3 cm x 0.3-2 cm, hairless or hairy.

The inflorescence is an erect to spreading panicle, and measures 8-30 cm long with numerous white to creamy flowers. The flowers are fragrant, with pedicel 1-2 cm long and articulate near the top. The sepal is tubular, 5-lobed and green. There are 5 petals which are oblong-spathulate, measure 1-2 cm long and unequal. The 5 stamens are with 3-5 staminodes and both are hairy at base. The ovary is on a gynophore 2-3 mm long and densely hairy. The style is tubular with open canal and truncate at the apex.

The fruit is a 3-angled, dagger-shaped, pendant capsule, measuring 10-50 cm x 1.5-2.5 cm, green at first but turns brown later, and smooth with 3-ribbed valves. The seed is nearly globular, trigonous, measures 1-1.4 cm in diametre and with 3 thin wings of 0.5-2.5 cm long.

Ecology / Cultivation

Moringa oleifera is strictly a tropical plant and grows well at lower elevations, both under wet and seasonal conditions, but can be found up to 1,300 m altitude. It can be grown in various soils but thrives best in fertile, well-drained sandy loams.

Line Drawing / Photograph


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  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No.8: Vegetables.