Sunday, 12 August 2012

Moringa – a.k.a. Tree of Life ...

Now for something completely different away from Olympic fervour ... let me introduce you to the Moringa tree – considered to be the most nutrient-rich plant on Earth.

Kweku Fleming

I had heard of the Tree of Life ... but had no knowledge about it ... then spotted an interesting character in The Guardian Weekend and had to know more about both!

Moringa Oleifera leaves

Kweku Fleming is described as a 40 something business man, who used to be an “imagineer” for Disney, but who is described in his resume as a design consultant with expertise in engineering design.

Kweku describes “imagineers” as the people behind the theme parks – looking at how to make rides more accessible, and part of that research was travelling to parks all over the US in a wheel chair.

Moringa Oleifera

He now lives in Ghana where his aunt studied and though they’re not sure of their familial roots – he feels at home at there.  To add to his portfolio of abilities, including helping disadvantaged peoples, he has invested in an organic Moringa farm.

The tree of life – Moringa is the sole genus of the flowering plant family Moringacea – containing 13 species from tropical and subtropical climates that range in size from tiny herbs to massive trees.

The "drumstick" fruit of
Moringa Oleifera
The most cultivated species is Moringa Oleifera (the horseradish tree), a multipurpose tree native to the foothills of the Himalayas in north-western India and cultivated throughout the tropics. 

The young Filipino explorer/boxer Ramir Mthalubula recently discovered a new wild African species – while the various types of plant are able to grow in many countries.

Moringa cultivation through its easy growth and high nutrient content, is being recognised as potentially very beneficial –

·        from combating deforestation (Honduras)

·        to providing a food source for both humans and farm animals –

o   the tree is a rich source of antioxidants

o   the leaves are high in protein

o   while the seeds are high in oleic acid:

§  then once the meal is defatted it - acts as a flocculant which can be used in water purification to settle out sediments and undesirable organisms.

Dunt-dalen chin yei,
Burmese drumstick sour soup
Recently the Moringa or ‘miracle tree’ is being cultivated in poverty-stricken nations, such as Niger, as a primary source of food and nutrients.

Uses for the plant range from the young fruits (called “drumsticks” being cooked in a number of different ways; the oil is excellent for cooking, and lubrication of delicate mechanisms; the leaves are extensively used as a vegetable in many parts of the world, and the root can be made into a condiment similar to horseradish; while the medicinal purposes are being more thoroughly researched.

Traditional Thai kaeng som with
drumstick pods and fresh pla thu

So as we move towards the ParaOlympic Games (Opening Ceremony is 29th August) ... my mind is oscillating between the last two weeks and the future Games ahead, where so many have achieved so much.  But my mind also flits around ...

... and that word flocculate came up again elsewhere this morning when I was reading an article in Wired Science titled “The Hidden Power of Whale Poop” – wouldn’t you be tickled pink?! and want to find out more?  This is the opening sentence:

Blue Whale
The largest animals ever to have lived on Earth, blue whales are colossal in every respect – including it must be said, the scatological.  When a blue whale goes, it goes big!!!

For more information about these incredible creatures which are the ocean’s unappreciated gardeners – where their poop helps make the aquatic world go round - see link below.

My mind does work in strange ways ... but the threads do tie in – I hope – and I teach myself so much along the way ...

My mother would have loved this link up ... I can see her eyes widening, then her smile beaming ... before she’d belly laugh at ‘whale poop” ... and be thoroughly amused while we laughed together.

The Weekend Guardian – Kweku Fleming 
Wikipedia - Moringa Oleifera

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


D.G. Hudson said...

Such a busy mind, Hilary!

This is why I keep coming back to see what's happening at Hilary's.

Hope you have a good day.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds like the Moringa is really all-purpose and life-sustaining.
Think I'll pass on reading about whale poop though.

Connie Arnold said...

Missed coming here for a while and glad to be back for today. Fascinating info on the Moringa tree and also how your mind works!

Old Kitty said...

And so the circle of life begins - from a tree to whale poop to fun man in the Guardian to the end of the Olympics and the beginning of the Paralympics! Who said life was boring!?!? Yay! take care

MunirGhiasuddin said...

Imagineer is a cool word.
How are you Hillary? How is every one in the family?
I read but I have not been writing lately. Headaches and struggle to remember little things is getting me worried. I feel bad neglecting my blogger friends. Take care. Cheers.

Diane said...

What an interesting post, the tree looks very similar to the Baobab in shape but much smaller.
As for whale poop LOL.
Have a great week. Diane

Amanda said...

Fascinating post, Hilary - thank you.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ DG - delighted you do pop over - even if it's for Moringa and then whale poop!

@ Alex - you've caught the right encapsulation for Moringa .. but the whale poop was very very interesting!

@ Connie - glad you enjoyed this 'strange' post .. lovely to see you.

@ Old Kitty - you got it right .. whale poop to tree of life and back again. Life is definitely not boring .. you too have a good week now the Olympics is over ..

@ Munir - it is a 'cool' word isn't it - must be one of Disney's. We are all well - just enjoying the end of the Olympics. As long as you're keeping yourself busy and away from your worries - that will help. Good to see you.

@ Diane - yes it does look similar to a baobab - and the larger ones hold water in a similar way to the baobab. Whale poop was a fascinating read! You too have a good week and enjoy the garden.

@ Amanda - glad you enjoyed it.

Cheers everyone .. enjoy the week ahead .. Hilary

MorningAJ said...

I love that sentence about whale poop! It puts me in mind of a book by the late, great Carl Sagan, called Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (And I wish I had it handy so I could quote exactly...) In one chapter he discusses the relative size of testicles (between species, you understand - not between themselves!)

Apparently a sparrow's are about the size of a grain of rice. "Which is why you never hear the expression 'hung like a sparrow'." :)

Theresa Milstein said...

I don't even want to think of the size of whale poop! I'm sure your mother would have laughed too.

How wonderful the tree has so many benefits, which add the benefit of people wanting to re-forest.

I'm sad the Olympics are over. It all goes by too quickly.

Suze said...

Alex made me chuckle.

As for this: 'and lubrication of delicate mechanisms'

A delicate way of putting it!

ana said...

My goodness Hilary you are a well of it.

Karen Walker said...

Hilary, your mind truly is wondrous. Whale poop, indeed.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ AJ - glad the whale poop is getting a good read and appreciation. I think I get your discussion point - the sparrow's seems relatively large though! Then Suze's comment about 'and lubrication of delicate mechanisms' - does that smooth in here?!

@ Theresa - large .. but oh so interesting!! There wasn't an awful lot about the Moringa ... but it is obviously now being researched more - especially if it helps purify water --- what a blessing that would be.

So much happening in those 2 weeks 2 days of the Olympics - incredible planning etc ..

@ Suze - yes Alex gave me a smile .. and I love your comment about 'and lubrication for delicate mechanisms' ... there I was thinking of metal on metal .. oh well - what with Morning AJ's comment --- this is becoming interesting?!

@ Ana - I just pick unlikely stories up and link them .. I wonder if that well needs any flocculation?! Glad you enjoyed it ..

@ Karen - sorry .. it's breadth has stretched in recent years - whale poop: I must say I never thought I'd write about it either!!

Cheers everyone - this is becoming an engaging comment section ... and I'm loving it - Hilary said...

Morninga to you too, or should i say eveninga?
Those drum sticks look like celery!
Lovely tribute to your Mum.
I like your train of thought very informative.

Sue said...

Hilary, I've had limited internet for a while, but when I get back to normal connection I'll catch up on your Olympic coverage. I haven't read or seen much at all, but am sure your view will be interesting and entertaining. I'm looking forward to the Para-olympics and hope we get some reasonable coverage.


Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I didn't realize the Tree of Life at Disney was based on a real tree. Very interesting stuff, Hilary.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Madeleine - morning now! The long seed pods don't much look like drumsticks I agree - thanks re the tribute and note to my Mama .. the train chuffs on!!

@ Sue - no worries (I hope you get better coverage soon) .. I haven't put many posts up as I was away in the beginning ... and will only post on the interesting aspects or oddities I pick up ..

@ Sharon - not sure that connection is/was there .. Disney's tree of life I'm sure would have been the real one - if there was such a thing in their world.

Whereas the Moringa has recently been realised to be so valuable for those resources ...

Many thanks for visiting .. cheers Hilary

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

I have never heard of the moringa before. What an amazing plant!

And yes, I'd love to read more about blue whale poop. Fascinating stuff! :D

Jannie Funster said...

Where can I buy stock in that newly discovered wild Moringa tree???

Who knew whale poop was so beneficial??

Well, gotta go get all flocculatde now...


Joylene Nowell Butler said...

The Miracle Tree, that is so fascinating. But I'm gathering the gist of the blog is to not get up close and personal with a blue whale when he's about to poop. Hmm. Good to know.

Karen Lange said...

You are teaching me much too! Thanks so much, Hilary. Always enjoy stopping to see you. :)

Have a good week,

Heather Murphy said...

This is brilliant! Those trees are at Disney's Animal Kingdom although I'm not sure if they are real. The park also centers around a constructed Tree of Life with animal carvings.
I had to go to the whale poop link also :) I'm glad to know that it is good for the environment. God knew what he was doing :)

Susan Scheid said...

Now that was one surprising ending note--the entire cycle of nature surely was encompassed in this post!

Davina said...

I like horseradish; especially with a nice roast :) I had no idea it had so many health benefits. You caught me off guard with the mention of whale poop though!

S. Susan Deborah said...

Dear Hilary: Glad to stop by after a very long time. I have no internet at home and so I am forced to forgo my favourite blogs.

The name moringa sounded very familiar and then when I saw the pictures, I realised it was drumsticks. In Tamil, it is called muringakai. The name seems to be a variation of the moringa. Muringakai is a staple in South India - the leaves are eaten as greens and the drumsticks are used in curries and gravies. The drumstick is esp recommended for newly weds as it is an aphrodisiac.

Thanks for the rich reading, Hilary. Today India celebrates her 66th Independence day!

Joy always,

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Amy - I hadn't either .. so thought everyone would be interested .. I hope you enjoyed the swoosh of blue whale poop?!

@ Jannie - you could grow Moringa in Austen I'm sure (well perhaps!) - they're growing them on the west coast ...

Well a few of us now know how whale poop benefits the ocean ... and fluffing yourself up for going out - sounds good ... xoxoxo

@ Joylene - thanks .. it does sound an amazing plant .. but you're so right about not getting too up close and personal with a blue whale - so set the GPS to steer clear when in the ocean!

@ Karen - thanks for coming by .. glad you enjoyed the info here!

@ Heather - I was amused too - so delighted you are. Thanks for the update re Disney and their Tree/s of Life .. being uneducated in this direction .. that was helpful!

I found the whale poop link fascinating .. so much we just don't think about ... and as you say God knew what he was doing.

@ Susan - slightly what I thought ... delighted you enjoyed the encompassing aspects - amused me and will amuse many when I tell them.

@ Davina - oh I love horseradish too, especially with a good roast .. real horseradish has other health benefits ...

They're still looking at the health benefits of both the horseradish as we know it ... and the Moringa tree with roots that taste similar to our horseradish.

Glad the whale poop took you a little by surprise - fun though!?!

@ Susan - sorry you've lost internet at home. You're right Moringa's home is India .. and as you say a staple around the Indo-Asian continent - so thank you for adding to the post.

Interesting that newly weds might use it as an aphrodisiac .. Glad you enjoyed the post - 66 years since Independence - congratulations ... so much has happened in these years ...

Thanks everyone for coming by - glad you all enjoyed the whale poop link ... cheers Hilary

Juliet said...

What a hopeful story Hilary. I enjoy being taken down the highways and byways of your mind and discovering such fascinating things about life. Thank you.

Unknown said...

Lovely positive post. So all's not lost in the world! I didn't know about the Tree of Life and I thank God that it's been discovered. I just hope it goes some way to alleviating the suffering. Haven't been to the links yet, but will do - I want to know about whale poop. btw - I'm not sure I commented on your previous post about the bike race but I was brought up in Surrey and it was like going back home to read your post. Ahhh...Box Hill and I know the pub in Gomshall. I also worked for a while in Bentalls in Kingston...happy times!

Julie Flanders said...

It made me smile to think of your mom laughing about the whale poop. I laughed too!

I'd never heard of the Moringa tree, how fascinating. I hope the ParaOlympic games are a huge success, I find them so inspiring.

Unknown said...

I just love how your mind works, Hilary. You take us on a fascinating journey with every post. I never know what to expect - and I certainly didn't expect whale poop. :)

nutschell said...

My sister, who worked for the peacecorps in Mali last year, mentioned something about the Moringa. Loved learning more about this tree!


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Juliet .. I find it interesting that we're looking into plants so much more - finding out all those benefits our ancestors seemed to know about.

@ Susan - glad you enjoyed this post and I hope the Moringa comes up trumps in helping the poor and suffering in Africa and elsewhere.

Delighted you enjoyed your tour back to your childhood .. and you know those places - the pub in Gomshall - and I'd never heard of the place til the railway took me through it. I never went to Bentalls or Kingston .. I went from Woking to London (Oxford Street) .. and as you say happy times.

@ Julie - my mother would have really laughed at this story - she enjoyed the eccentricities of life that I brought with me to her bedside.

The Paralympics are going to be a huge draw .. getting fully booked out - which is wonderful news - they are inspiring .. just hope we can take the success and joy forward into the years ahead.

@ Shirley - thanks .. delighted you enjoy the posts and I never know what to expect either! Whale poop though is a new one ..

@ Nutschell - that would be so interesting if she could tell you some more about the Moringa in Mali .. and also about her Peacecorps visit there ... and then you tell us of course!!

Thanks Juliet, Sue, Julie, Shirley and Nutshell .. good to see you - cheers .. Hilary

A Lady's Life said...

I love trees and the stories behind them. I love birch and oak and I am glad to know about the rowan tree lol
I love hazelnuts and pine nuts
My personal favorite was the willow which was my true friend.I lived up in that tree and my Dad had to cut it down because of the roots. I cried for days.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi A Lady's Life .. trees are just wonderful aren't they .. we don't harvest pine nuts here - to my knowledge. But they are delicious ... that willow brings back happy memories for you ... but can understand your father's concern about the roots - very sad though.

Cheers and thanks for visiting .. Hilary