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Drumstick (moringa-oleifera)

Moringa trees are native to tropical Asia but also naturalized in Africa and tropical America. They are fast-growing evergreen or deciduous trees growing to 10–12 m tall, with large bipinnate leaves up to 2 m long. The rather fragrant flowers are produced in large branched panicles up to 90 cm long; each flower is small, with four purplish-red petals.

The moringa nut has the highest protein content of any plant source, more than soybeans, and it has two to three times the vitamin A content of carrots. Moringa leaves contain many essential minerals such as iron and zinc.

A moringa leaf is 70% water, yet also contains significant quantities of protein (4%), fatty oil (8%), carbohydrates (12%), calcium (3%), magnesium (4%), phosphorus (5%), potassium, and vitamins A, C and B complex. Moringa contains several times the calcium and vitamin C of milk or tomato juice and iron at 10 times the concentration.

Moringa is used as a food source in India. The small pods may be harvested when they are as young as three months and eaten raw or cooked, while larger pods can be harvested when the tree is a year old and used to produce oil. The flowers are also edible.

Moringa oleifera is commonly grown as an ornamental plant in regions outside its native range because of its showy bright red flowers, which appear in great numbers in the spring. It is one of the most drought-tolerant plants in the world and has been used to green deserts.

The young leaves are edible either cooked or raw, however caution must be taken to avoid potentially toxic immature seeds. Moringa is commonly used as feed for livestock because it contains many essential minerals and vitamins. It can grow well in different climates and is free of pests. Due to high tolerance to harsh weather conditions, moringa could potentially be used in food production in the future.

The leaves are eaten by various insects, especially leaf beetles of the genus "Lochmaea", whose larvae then produce honeydew that supports a sooty mold which infects the leaves.

The tree is used in South Asia for treating diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, and heart disease. It has been investigated for possible use against cancer. The fruit pulp contains benzyl isothiocyanate which shows potential pesticidal activity. Moringa oleifera seeds are also an important part of traditional medicine in some countries.

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