There are nine different Moringa tree species in Southern Africa, north-eastern Africa, Madagascar and India.
However, the only endemic Southern African Moringa species is the Moringa ovalifolia. This tree naturally grows in Namibia. It extends from the escarpment mountains northwest of Keetmanshoop to the Kaokoveld in the north. Even as far as in southern Angola.
It often grows alongside the Baobab tree, and its habitat consists mainly of the desert or arid savannah vegetation. These trees can grow up to 7m tall, with soft whitish bark, oval leaves and long triangular seed pods. Here at The Growcery Camp, we have been able to cultivate this specific species of Moringa from seed. The seeds of our Moringa Trees are the Moringa waterhole at Halali in Etosha National Park, Namibia.
The Moringa tree is also the phantom tree, ghost tree or the African Moringa. In Afrikaans, it is known as the sprokiesboom. The Herero tribe calls it Omutindi, and to the Ovambo tribe, it is known as Oluhongwe. It adapts to the hot, dry Namib Desert. Its succulent stem stores water and nutrients. These help it through the dry winter months, allowing it to multiply here in the hot Richtersveld as well. The silvery bark reflects the sun’s rays.
The silvery bark is preventing the plant from overheating and the seeds release are only releases during summer and autumn. Which is when the most rainfall occurs in Namibia and northern South Africa. The wind then scatters these seeds, and so new trees grow, and the Moringa population multiplies.
Elephants, giraffes and springbok love eating the fruit and leaves of the Moringa ovalifolia. It has medicinal antibiotic properties and is good to treat stomach ailments and to detox your body. One can Almost eat all parts of the Moringa tree. It is a significant tree due to its many nutritional and medicinal properties. The leaves can be used in salads or eaten like spinach. The preparation and taste are similar to peas. The root of this tree has a horseradish like a flavour.
The plant is full of essential nutrients, including vitamins A, B, C, D, E. You also find minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and selenium. A 100grams of Moringa Leaves equals the Same amount of Vitamin C as an orange.
The Moringa pods have three times the amount of Vitamin C of an Orange.
Moringa is also one of a kind as its leaves are rich in essential amino acids which are unique in plants. Moringa is rich in protein and is a source of good cholesterol. It is used as a stimulant for milk production when breastfeeding and the leaves can be dried and made into a powder.
Another way is to make a delicious tea. This Tea manages blood glucose level, stabilizes high blood pressure, and promote a good night sleep. The tea is used as an energy booster even though Moringa tea does not contain caffeine! Traditional medicine techniques use Moringa leaves to treat gastrointestinal problems, headache, inflammation, anaemia, fever, eye infection, bronchitis, poor nutrition, inner ear infections and skin infections.
The seeds can even be crushed and added to murky water to purify it, as it acts as a natural binder. This Binder either moves the undesired particles to the bottom or allows them to float to the surface. On the surface, it is easy to remove. It is only about 2 to 3 seeds per litre of water.
The San people used the Moringa tree as a supply for water, especially in the desert regions of Southern Africa.
They would make a small hole in the bottom of the tree trunk. Just big enough to fit in a piece of reed.
After a while, the tree sap would start to flow. The san collected the watery liquid, in ostrich shells, it is quite bitter, but in time of no to very little water available, this was good enough to keep them going! They would then reseal the hole with a piece of clay made from the tree sap and some soil which prevents the tree from rotting and move on to their next destination.
The Moringa tree is a tree that doesn’t stop giving, no wonder it is a “miracle plant” in many countries!
Next time you visit the Growcery Camp, ask about our small Moringa forest that came about during lockdown.
We also have Moringa powder in stock for purchasing that you can add to your salads, pasta dishes, stews, smoothies and muffins, brownies, pancakes when baking!
You could even use the powder to make some natural skincare and beauty products such as face scrubs and hair conditioner!
van Jaarsveld, E., 2007. Moringa Ovalifolia | Plantzafrica. [online] Pza.sanbi.org. Available at: <http://pza.sanbi.org/moringa-ovalifolia>.
Fourie, C., 2020. Moringa Ovalifolia – Namibia Trees And Plants.
Moringa Facts. 2020. Home – Moringa Facts. [online] Available at: <https://moringafacts.net/