The Ultimate Expert’s Guide to Moringa

In this blog we’ll share with you the characteristics of moringa, its main types, properties, history, main exporters and importers, how it is cultivated, and some products made from this plant. Don’t miss it!  

What is moringa and what are its characteristics?     

Scientific name  Moringa oleífera
Common nameMoringa
Place of originSouthern Asia
HabitatSandy and light soils. Temperate and warm climates. 
DistributionTropics, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia.

Characteristics of the moringa plant 

It belongs to the moringaceae genus. A small tree formed by a few thin stems of green or brown tones that can reach 10 or 12 meters high. It has a series of small leaves with a maximum width of 0.6 to 0.3 cm, light green color and measuring from 1.3 to 2 cm in length.

Its flowers are known for their strong aroma. The tree has flowers that can be white or cream-colored white. They grow in clusters. These flowers measure a maximum of 2.5 cm wide.

Description of the moringa fruit 

Its fruit can be described as a type of pod that can be cooked when green, so it can taste similar to beans. If it is ripe, however, it has to be cooked by adding a little salt to open it and consume the seed once it is ready; it can also be roasted. These beans’ flavor is similar to chickpeas. The roots can also be eaten, similar to carrots in shape but with a spicy flavor. On the other hand, the leaves and flowers are also edible; when raw, or when cooked with a mild spicy touch.

Types of moringa 

Broadly speaking, there are 44 types or varieties of moringa:

  1. Periyakulam or PKM1
  2. PKM2
  3. Oddanchathiran (ODC)
  4. MOL’E
  5. MOMAX3
  6. Bhagya KDM 01
  7. Shyama- black variety
  8. Shveta – white variety
  9. Rakta o Madhu shigru – red variety
  10. GKVK 1, 2 and 3
  11.  Dhanaraj
  12.  Bhagya
  13. Konkan Ruchira
  14. Anupama
  15. KM 1
  16. AMAR 32
  17.  Jaffna
  18. MS Series
  19.  MX3
  20.  Rohit 1
  21.  Sarpan SD2
  22.  Kodikkal murungai
  23.  Punamurungai
  24.  Palmurungai
  25.  PAVM
  26.  Anupama
  27. Mumbai
  28.  Coimbatore 1
  29.  Coimbatore 2
  30.  Kadumurungai (Kadu)
  31.  Murunga.
  32.  Valayapatti
  33.  Dwarf Indian
  34.  Andipatty
  35. Moringa stenopetala
  36.  Moolanur
  37. Multiplex
  38.  Shobhanjana
  39.  Chavakacheri
  40. Chemmurungai
  41. Congo-Brazzaville
  42. Jaffna (Yazhpanam)
  43. Malawi
  44. Mbololo

Today we’ll focus on the first 6 types mentioned as they are the main ones.

Periyakulam or PKM1 

This variety was launched by TNAU in 1989. It was developed from trees collected in the Eppothumvendran area of the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, it is a continuous self-fertilizing pure line selection for six generations. It is propagated only from seed.

The PKM1 is a young shrub-like variety of medium to dwarf size that grows up to 4 m tall in the first year after planting and quickly regrows after harvest. The leaves are broad and dark green on top and pale green underneath. This variety is well suited for high-intensity leaf production and may be the most widely planted variety for drumstick production in large-scale plantings.

It can bear flowers within 3-4 months after planting, and the first pods in only 6-7 months. Although the flowers grow in clusters of 25-150, usually only one pod grows, rarely 2-4. Pods’ size makes them edible 65 days after flowering; they are 45-75 cm long, of uniform length and color, tender even at late harvest, and of good flavor. Their flexible shape minimizes the possibility of breaking and gives them a long shelf life. Each tree produces 200-400 pods. They have a potential pod yield of 50-54 tons per hectare. According to Lalas and Tasaknis 2002, a complete seed oil characterization of this variety has been reported.

According to TANU 2017 and Maharshi et al. 2020, this variety is suited to grow on a wide variety of well-drained soils and on wastes formerly used to produce other crops. Water and fertilizer requirements have been reduced for this variety.

Periyakulam or PKM2 

This variety is a higher yielding cross hybrid derivative derived from a cross between MP 31 (local Eppothum vendran) and MP 28 (local Arasaradi); released in 2000. It is propagated from seed.

PKM2 is an upgrade of PKM-1 with more lateral branches, ideal for producing more leaves at a lower height for easier harvesting and pods with more pulp than seeds. It produces an average of 240 fruits per tree with an average yield of 98 t/ha. The pods can be picked within 7-8 months after planting and are long, about 125-130 cm with a circumference of 8.40 cm and weigh on average about 280 g. They are meaty (with 70% flesh), with less fiber and culinary quality. Each tree produces about 220 pods and yields on average 98 tons of pods per hectare and less than 1 ton of seeds per hectare.

PKM2 is suited for growing in various cropping systems; it can be kept as a ratoon crop for three years and grows in most well-drained soils. According to a TNAU website, the optimum planting densities for maximum yield differ for these two varieties (PKM2 AND PKM1).

According to TANU 2017 and Maharshi 2020, the PKM1 spacing is 1.5 X 1.0 m with two plants/hill; for PKM2 the minimum spacing is 1.2 x 1.2 m. PKM2 requires more water than PKM1. It is also suitable for intercropping as a catch crop alongside coconut and tropical fruit orchards.

Oddanchathiran (ODC) 

This famous drumstick tree variety is widely cultivated in India and apparently developed through the efforts of both the public and private sectors. It appears to have received its name from Oddanchatram, after an area in the Dindigul district in the southwestern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

According to Thampalayagowder (2017) et al, ODC is preferred for its low water and fertilizer requirement, high pod yield, flavor, shelf life, and consumer preference. It can be planted at the regular spacing of 3 m inter-row and 2.4 inter-plant spacing, or at 2 m inter-row and 1.5 m inter-plant spacing for intensive cultivation with 1200-1500 plants per acre. The trees grow rapidly and three months after planting, they begin to branch abundantly. Pods attain edible size 65 days after flowering. The yield per plant is 200 to 300 pods and total annual yield per acre is estimated at 25 to 30 tons. The ratoon trees can be maintained for 10 to 15 years. According to Thampalayagowder 2017 et al, the trees are to be trimmed 1 m from ground level each year.


According to Maharshi 2020, MOL’E is a non-transgenic crop developed by Advanced Biofuel Center (ABC) of Moringa India for leaf production in high-intensive crops. According to information provided by DP Maharshi, founder and CEO of ABC, the trees grow up to 1-2 m tall and are planted 20-60 in rows spaced 60-120 cm apart. Such an arrangement allows for continuous leaf harvesting.

Some of the other demanded characteristics of this variety are:

  • Shelf life of 5-8 years.
  • Days from planting to cutting of the first leaf: 50
  • Harvests per year: 5-7, depending on climatic conditions.
  • Number of plants per ha: 30,000 – 167,000
  • The protein content of fresh leaves is 10 %, dry leaves 22 % and dry leaf powder 29 %. (It is unclear why the reported protein content of dried leaves and leaf powder differs).


According to Maharshi 2020, the MOMAX3 is a patent-protected, perennial, non-transgenic variety designated for seed oil production developed by Moringa India’s Advanced Biofuels Center (ABC) in a research program started in 2008.  The ABC research team identified and collected 42 high-yielding Moringa oleifera candidates and evaluated the genetic association and variability in seed and growth characteristics to develop improved varieties. MOMAX3, released in 2016, was the outcome of that research program. According to the developer, it is the world’s highest yielding variety for seed oil production. The seeds have an oil content of 40%.

Some of the other demanded characteristics of this variety:

  • Shelf life of 15-20 years.
  • Seeds per pod: 16
  • Weight of 100 seeds: 30.2g
  • Pods per tree in the first year: 350-500
  • High yield: 5-9 tons
  • Uniform growth and maturity
  • Harvest frequency: twice a year
  • Free of pests and diseases
  • Withstands adverse growing conditions.

Bhagya KDM 01 

It is a fast-growing dwarf perennial variety developed by Drs. Madalgeri and Mulge while at Kittur Rani Chennamma Horticulture College, based at Arabhavi, Belagavi district. It was derived from PKM 3 selections that began in 1998 and were launched in 2011. The trees can be held at a height of 2 to 4 m by pruning, are suitable for high-density plantings, and can remain productive for 15 years. They bloom 100 to 110 days after planting and the pods can be harvested within 160 to 180 days. The fruit length is a desirable average length of 45 to 75 cm. Trees produce 350 to 400 pods in the first year and 800 to 1000 in the second year, a yield of 17 to 20 tons per acre.

Properties and benefits of moringa 

Moringa nutritional profile 

Let’s take a look at the moringa nutritional table per 100g, taken from Vegaffinity.

CompositionQuantity (gr)CDR(%)
MineralsQuantity (mg)CDR(%)
VitaminsQuantity (mg)CDR(%)
Vitamin A0.3842%
Vitamin B10.325%
Vitamin B20.753.8%
Vitamin B32.20%
Vitamin B1200%
Vitamin C51.757.4%

5 properties of moringa that you must take advantage of 

It protects and strengthens hair and skin 

Moringa oil is excellent for protecting the health of your hair because it keeps it clean and strong. This plant also has proteins that are very helpful in restoring damaged skin cells. On the other hand, it also has detoxifying and moisturizing components that stimulate hair and skin wellness. It is recommended for treating sores and skin infections.

It prevents edemas 

Edemas are disorders that consist of the accumulation of fluid in certain body tissues and cause a lot of pain. The anti-inflammatory components of moringa may be effective in treating the growth of edema.

It avoids stomach problems 

Moringa components help to cure some stomach conditions, such as constipation, ulcerative colitis, and gastritis. On the other hand, this food’s antibacterial and antibiotic properties help to diminish the development of several microbes and its great content of vitamin B promotes proper digestion.

It preserves your heart 

By consuming moringa you can avoid the absorption of cholesterol by the intestine since this plant is rich in fiber. Additionally, moringa has several bioactive compounds such as polyphenols and quercetin, compounds that act as antioxidants and reduce inflammation on a large scale, thus reducing the likelihood of heart disease.

 It helps to lose weight 

As a plant rich in fiber and protein, it helps to increase the feeling of satiety from a meal, which makes you want to eat less food and thus helps you lose weight. Additionally, some studies carried out in animals show that moringa can reduce fat in the body, but there is still no definite mechanism of how this happens, so more studies are needed to find out.

WARNING: This plant shall not be ingested during pregnancy because it can induce miscarriages, nor shall it be consumed during the lactation period or if you suffer from diabetes, hypoglycemia or before going to sleep.

History and origin of moringa 

Moringa has been reported to be a medicinal plant in India since about 2000 BC.

In one of the world’s longest-lived health systems, the annals of Ayurvedic medicine, moringa is mentioned as a treatment for nearly 300+ conditions.

Not only did the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans drink the leaf extracts as tea 24/7 and ate the leaves and pods all over the Indian subcontinent, but also, along with West Africans and some Asians, they extracted the seed oil and used it as perfumes and skin lotions. In the 19th century, this oil was exported to Europe from moringa crops in the West Indies for use in perfumery and machine lubricants. Today it is used to purify water and fight malnutrition on the African continent and in various parts of the world that have been affected by drought.

On the other hand, the Mauritian warriors of India consumed the extract of the leaves of this plant as the basis of their daily diet and in war. These soldiers were recognized as “men of endurance and courage”, and moringa not only provided them with the strength to fight but also soothed their stress and physical pain.

Global moringa industry 

Meet the main exporters and importers of moringa in the world.   

Top moringa exporters in the world in 2020 

In the following chart, you’ll observe the 10 countries that exported moringa the most in 2020 according to FAO. On the other hand, you can also find out information on the monetary volume in exports of these countries in 2020, specifically in U.S. dollars. Let’s see what they are:

Top global importers of moringa in 2020 

You’ll see the top importers of moringa according to the FAO for 2020 in the following graph. Moreover, it also provides information about the monetary volume of imports from these countries, specifically in U.S. dollars in the year 2020. Let’s see what they are:

How is moringa cultivated? 

A series of requirements must be taken into account in order to grow this plant. Next, we show you what they are:   


The soil for moringa has to have pH levels between 4.5 and 8, however, the preferred soils are slightly acidic or neutral. Additionally, this crop needs loam and clay soils, but it can grow well in soils with little organic matter or in sandy soils.


This plant lives in temperatures above 18.7°C but prefers temperate or warm climates with temperatures between 25°C and 35°C. Moringa is highly sensitive to cold because it loses its leaves in winter and cannot tolerate frost.

Moringa planting method 

Seed germination 

Moringa seeds can be found in nurseries or specialized gardening stores. Before sowing, it is advisable to soak the seeds in water for at least 24 hours, so that the shell softens and makes it easier for the seeds to germinate.

After 24 hours in the water, you can start planting them directly in the soil or in a pot, but before this, we suggest moistening the soil slightly. Keep in mind that the seed has to be planted at a depth of about 5 cm. They need to be watered again after being buried in the soil. It is necessary to keep the soil wet without exceeding the first 10 days after growing moringa. It grows quickly so the first results can be seen within 1 week. After 1 month, you’ll have a small tree of about 30 cm.

If you grow several seeds, you need to leave a spacing of 30 to 40 cm between seeds. If planting in a pot, it should be ideally at least 30 cm deep.

Planting cuttings 

If you happen to have a grown moringa plant, you can plant a new crop using its cuttings. This alternative is very good because it is faster than planting seeds.

For this, choose a branch at least 30 cm long and 4 cm in diameter, cut it from the main trunk and plant it directly in the ground or in a pot. Bear in mind that the cutting has to be planted about 15 cm deep. With proper care, you’ll notice that the moringa will root in a few days and that it’ll start to grow branches from the cuttings.

Bonus: recommendations for moringa planting 

Whether you have planted moringa or bought it mature, you need to keep in mind a series of care needed for its growth and maintenance:

  • Light: this plant benefits greatly from direct light.
  • The tree doesn’t tolerate higher temperatures than 40°C.
  • Watering: moringa has a high resistance to drought and gets damaged if it is given too much water, so it is important that the soil is properly drained and that it always has some humidity.
  • If planted in poor soil, it is advisable to add some organic matter.


The moringa tree can grow up to 5 m and 10 m when adult. It should be pruned once a year to manage its height and remove old branches and thus encourage the appearance of new branches.

Moringa harvest 

Eight months after it has been planted with the necessary care, moringa will begin to yield its fruits, which consist of pods that mature three months after their emergence and can be harvested.

Moringa post-harvest

There are 2 main ways of preserving moringa:

Method 1 

The first thing to do when storing moringa is to remove the leaves, after which they are stored in a dry and clean container; they will remain fresh for a week. Wash them before cooking.

Method 2 

In case you have forgotten to store the leaves as in a first way, you can resort to another alternative which consists of storing them in a newspaper or inside a paper towel. Once this step is done, proceed to wrap the leaves and leave them in the refrigerator. This way, in 2 days they will be dry, and in this state, the leaves are ideal to add to dishes such as kuzhambu.

Uses and products based on moringa 

Moringa is commonly used to prepare tea or infusions so people often consume it this way. However, there are other types of industrial products made from this plant, and it can be said that it is used fresh or processed. Some products made from moringa have also been launched to the market, such as the ones we will show you below.

Handicraft products made from moringa 

Moringa seeds 

Moringa seeds are harvested from the pod or ripe moringa fruit, which is an edible fruit. Moringa seed pods have a green color. The Moringa pods turn brown as they are dehydrated by sunlight. Older mature green pods begin to turn gray or light brown as the seeds mature inside the pods.

Moringa seeds
By FPSantamaría – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Industrial products made from moringa 

Moringa oil 

Ram moringa oil is extracted from moringa seed kernels using the cold pressing method to preserve the essential nutrients in the moringa oil. The well-ripened first-grade moringa seed kernel yields approximately 30% to 40% moringa oil. Moringa oleifera oil is also known as ben oil; it has a rich concentration of behelp acid.

It contains a rich concentration of behenic acid.

Moringa powder 

Ram moringa powder was derived from first-grade organic moringa leaves. All the organic moringa leaves of good quality are dried in the shade to prevent the nutrients in the moringa from heating up. It has 90 nutrients and 40 powerful antioxidants. It is an excellent source of:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Iron
  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium

Moringa seed cake 

Moringa seed cake or deoiled cake is one of the best coagulants with natural composition. This cake can be used as an alternative to aluminum sulfate, commonly used to purify water. This cake also appears to improve soil fertility and contains 60% protein. Moringa cake contains a number of nutrients such as:

  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Nitrogen
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Zinc
  • Nickel

Moringa Tea 

The tea made from this plant has multiple properties such as acting as medicine for certain ailments and skin care. More specifically, it is said that this tea is good to avoid diabetes, nourishing hair and skin, keeping blood pressure stable, improving the digestive system, prevent cancer, and helping respiratory wellness, among other benefits.


Moringa is a valuable plant since it is widely consumed for its many benefits which include stimulating the immune system, taking care of people’s skin and hair, and for the variety of products that can be made with it. We hope that this blog has taught you more about moringa and that you don’t hesitate to consume it in all its presentations to enjoy its benefits firsthand.