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Horseradish Tree - August 16, 2010


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When I first moved to this house in 1995, there were two trees on the property I had never seen.  One was much larger than the other and centrally placed on the front lawn (never a good idea stylistically) and the other smaller one was placed to the left of the garage.  Eventually, the larger one died and I was left with the smaller tree which I discovered to be the Horseradish tree (Moringa olifera) so named from the similarity in taste of the flowers, leaves and roots of the tree to horseradish.  

Over the years, the tree has withstood several hurricanes (it tends to self prune in high winds) and not only survived but thrived.  This year, it has been at its peak blooming.  According to Wikipedia it has a lot of uses and is considered nutritious.  The young seed pods may be cooked like string beans.  The flowers and young leaves are edible as is, and the roots of the tree may be grated like horseradish.  However, Wikipedia cautions the roots contain an alkaloid spirochin which may be fatal if ingested.  Even when the sea pods are mature, they may be “shelled” and eaten like peas. 

Wikipedia also attributes properties as an anti-helminthic (kills worms) and as an adjuvant (works to enhance other drugs) and even used to combat malnutrition in developing parts of the world.  It seems there are few things that are not beneficial about the tree.  Personally, I like the flowers.   I can’t recall it ever not being in bloom but it really shows off in the summer.  As you can see, as the flowers fall from the tree, they can literally carpet the ground. 

© Fred Searcy 2017