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The Many Uses for the Moringa Oleifera Plant



From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report. A listener in Nigeria asked us to talk about the moringa oleifera plant. This tree or shrub is grown for food and other purposes.

Gerry Moore is a plant expert with the United States Department of Agriculture. He says the plant is high in protein, and rich in vitamins and minerals. Not only the fruit, but also the leaves, roods and seeds can be used as food in some way. The plant is known by different names around the world.

Moringa oleifera is native to the foothills of the Himalayas -- from Pakistan to eastern India. Because it is native to that area, much of the research on the plant has been done by scientists in Pakistan and India. Its native range is narrow, but the plant is grown throughout the world. In the United States, it has been introduced in Hawaii, Florida and Puerto Rico. Gerry Moore says the plant cannot grow where there is freezing weather. It resists heat up to 49 degrees Celsius. The plant also can withstand dry or wet conditions, so it can grow in many areas.

Mr. Moore says the plant can be used to make many different foods. The leaves can be boiled and eaten in curry dishes. The fruit can be sliced and eaten, cooked or pickled. Gerry Moore says the taste is similar to asparagus. The roots of the plant can be dug up, peeled and used as a seasoning in the same way as horseradish. Moringa oleifera is related to mustard, so it can have a sharp taste. The seeds in the fruit can be fried and taste like peanuts. The seeds are rich in oil. But the bark of the moringa oleifera tree can be poisonous, so be sure to remove it.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Laurel Bowman. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 9Apr2013)