Ben Tree, Drumstick IT: Moringa
BOT: Moringa oleifera (M. pterygosperma)
FAM: Moringaceae ILL: Plate 3, No. 5
This is a small tree with scented white flowers which grows wild in the forests of the western Himalayas. It is commonly cultivated in India and South East Asia and also, to some extent, in the southern part of the United States. It has run wild in the West Indies. The chief commercial use for this tree is the production of ben nuts, and ben nut oil is used in commerce.
The tree gets its name of ‘drumstick’ from its long pods. These have nine ribs and are up to eighteen inches long. Although rather fibrous, when cooked they have a meaty taste and are very distinctive in Indian vegetable curries. The small leaves are also used in curries or are pounded with green mango and onion as a flavouring for chutney. The name of ‘horseradish tree’ comes from the fact that the root is pungent like horseradish and is sometimes used as a flavouring.