Illustration by Matt Okahata
Moringa oleifera is the most widely cultivated species in the Moringa genus, which is the only genus in the family Moringaceae. English common names include: moringa, drumstick tree (from the appearance of the long, slender, triangular seed-pods), horseradish tree (from the taste of the roots, which resembles horseradish), ben oil tree, or benzoil tree (from the oil which is derived from the seeds). It is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree, native to the southern foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern In-dia, and widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical areas where its young seedpods and leaves are used as vegeta-bles. It can also be used for water purifi cation and hand washing, and is sometimes used in herbal medicine. Many experts say that consuming the leaves raw, cooked or pre-pared as a tea has many health benefi ts.