Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Malunggay is the most popular tree vegetable in the tropic.

Malunggay grown from cutting

Abe V Rotor

In the province no home is without this small tree at the backyard or in a vacant lot.

The leaves, flowers, juvenile pods and young fruits of Moringa oleifera (Family Moringaceae) go well with fish, meat, shrimp, mushroom, and the like.

It is one plant that does not need agronomic attention, not even weeding and fertilization, much less chemical spraying. You simply plant an arm's length cutting or two, in some corner or along the fence and there it grows into a tree that can give you a ready supply of vegetables year round for many years.

What nutrients do we get from malunggay? Here is a comparison of the food value of the fresh leaves and young fruits, respectively, in percent. (MaraƱon and Hermano, Useful Plants of the Philippines)

• Proteins 7.30 / 7.29
• Carbohydrates 11.04 / 2.61
• Fats 1.10 / 0.16
• Crude Fiber 1.75 / 0.76
• Phosphorus (P2 O 5) 0.24 / 0.19
• Calcium (CaO) 0.72 / 0.01
• Iron (Fe2O3) 0.108 / 0.0005

Owing to these properties and other uses, rural folks regard malunggay a “miracle tree.” Take for example the following uses.

• The root has a taste somewhat like that of horse-radish, and in India it is eaten as a substitute to it.

• Ben oil extracted from the seed is used for salad and culinary purposes, and also as illuminant.

• Mature seeds have antibacterial and flocculation properties that render drinking water safe and clear.

From these data, it is no wonder malunggay is highly recommended by doctors and nutritionists for both children and adults, particularly to nursing mothers and the convalescents.

Reference: Living with Folk Wisdom, AVR, UST Manila

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