The Drumstick Tree, Moringa oleifera, gets its common name from the fruit. It is also called the horseradish tree, because the roots have a similar flavor. The fruit is long and slender, and looks like an oversized pea pod which looks like a drumstick and gives the tree its name. The seeds inside look like oversized peas. It’s a drought tolerant plant and its native habitat is India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and the tropics. Its bark, leaves, seeds and roots are used as a folk medicine.

Drumstick Tree
Credit: Public Domain

Nutritional Value Of The Drumstick Tree


The Moringa oleifera is easy to grow, and used as a food source. The tree matures at the end of the drought season, and provides fresh food at that time. It is a legume that will grow approximately 25 feet tall. The leaf contains minerals, vitamins and is an antioxidant. The leaves retain these nutrients after they have been dried. The pods are prepared like green beans when they are immature. The seeds are cooked like peas when they are mature. Roasting is another way to prepare the mature seeds. When cooked like peas, the seeds taste similar to mustard flavored peas, and similar to peanuts after roasting. The drumstick leaves are prepared like spinach, or dried and used as a condiment powder. The flowers can be eaten and are used in salads. The roots taste similar to horseradish if shredded. Some reports advising not to use the root as it has hazardous side effects. Because the tree is easy to grow and has a high nutritional value, it is an important food source in some parts of the world.

Moringa oleifera Blanco, Drumstick Tree
Credit: Public Domain
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Medicinal Uses Of Drumstick Leaves

The benefits of drumstick leaves and other parts of the plant cover a wide range of uses. The leaves are high in minerals and vitamins. As with most herbal supplements, there is insufficient evidence of controlled studies to verify the effectiveness of these claims. Dosage depends on health, age and other conditions related to the patient.

Taken orally, this plant is used to treat a wide variety of problems. Medicinal uses of drumstick leaves are as a tonic. Parts of the drumstick tree are said to help gastric ulcers, cramps, the digestive system, constipation, diarrhea, gastritis, anemia, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, headache, high blood pressure, kidney stones, inflammation, thyroid problems, infections, increase immunity, and other conditions.

The oil from the plant is applied to the skin for warts, skin infections, athlete’s foot, dandruff, snake bites, and gingivitis.

Side Effects

As with any food source or supplement there is a possibility of harmful side effects. Information isn’t complete for the safe amounts or methods of use. Some patients report rashes when applied to the skin.

It’s recommended not to use the root or root extracts. There is a possibility it contains a toxic substance that causes paralysis. It’s recommended not to used it for medical treatments when pregnant.

As with any supplement or medicine, consult with a physician about its use. This is especially true if having a surgical procedure or pregnant, inform the doctor of any supplements and medication being taken. This should be a standard practice when consulting with your doctor.