Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tree Profile: Moringa Stenopetala

A Moringa Stenopetala Emerges

There are few trees that represent as many products and services like that of the Moringa tree.  In Ethiopia, Moringa stenopetala has been grown for many years, eventually having naturalized to the Ethiopian climate and biophysical conditions.

In Konso, as well as other villages and towns in southern Ethiopia, Moringa stenopetala seeds are often sown within a compound when construction of a house begins because it is a major food staple and represents food security for many families.  Moringa stenopetala is also frequently planted within crop lands, lending itself to agroforestry, a system in which trees lend themselves to soil stabilization, attraction for bees, and other benefits within a land intended for sustainable crop production.

Moringa Stenopetala Growing Within Konso Cropland 

Moringa stenopetala leaves provide nutritious food for people.  The leaves have substantial amounts of iron, protein, calcium, phosphorous and vitamins (A & C) [1].  Leaves are prepared fresh by either boiling or steaming them.  The taste is similar to collards or any other dark leafy green you might have eaten.  In addition to its leaves, young seed pods and roots (with a taste very similar to wasabi) can be harvested from Moringa stenopetala and eaten, too.  After drying and powdering, leaves can prepared as a nutritious tea (a moringa tea mixed with ginger and honey is really good) or added into soups and stews as a nutritional supplement.

The Leaves and Young Blossoms of Moringa Stenopetala Near Wolkite, Ethiopia

Seed pods from Moringa stenopetala can also treat polluted water [2].  After being crushed into a paste and stirred into unclean water, its seeds begin to act as a flocculant, attracting all the harmful particles in the water to stick to the bottom of the water container where the seed paste accumulates.  Once the particles have been allowed to settle, the water on top can be scooped out or poured through a clean cloth for drinking without fear of becoming sick.

Moringa Seeds and Seed Pod

Moringa stenopetala grows quickly, offers bee forage, adds nitrogen to soil, serves as a source for fuel wood, and can add beauty to the areas that it grows.  Moringa stenopetala performs best in sandy, well drained soils within an elevation between 400 and 2,100 meters above sea level [1].   


[1] Agroforestry Database 4.0 (Orwa et al.2009)
[2] "The tree that purifies water: Cultivating multipurpose Moringaceae in the Sudan" - FAO Corporate Document Repository


  1. Thank you Seth for your monograph on the Moringa stenopetala which I have presumed to consult for an exhibit I am currently preparing to persuade UK Lions clubs to support community action in African countries by helping to finance local agroforestry networks, village seed banks and tree seedling nurseries. If we are successful I will write again.

    1. Excellent. Best of luck - it's an amazing tree!