Moringa stenopetala, commonly called the cabbage-tree (along with a number of other species), is a tree in the flowering plant genus Moringa, native to Kenya and Ethiopia. It is now extirpated in the wild in Ethiopia, though still grown there as a crop on the terraces built to conserve water high up the mountains. It is a multipurpose tree producing edible leaves, seeds used for the purification of water, and traditional medicinal products.
The cabbage-tree was planted by agriculturalists on the complex system of terraces built high up in the Ethiopian Highlands, where they became domesticated and were bred to improve productivity, the taste of their leaves, and the size of their seeds. Since then, the improved trees have been introduced into other areas such as the Rift Valley.
The cabbage-tree is a small tree up to 12 m (39 ft), with a many-branched crown and sometimes with multiple trunks. The leaves are bipinnate or tripinnate, with about five pairs of pinnae and three to nine elliptic or ovate leaflets on each pinna. The fragrant flowers have creamy-pink sepals, white or yellow petals, and white stamens. The fruits are long reddish pods with a greyish bloom.
Moringa stenopetala is mostly known for its importance as a nutritious vegetable food crop in the terraced fields of Konso, Ethiopia. In this way, it is similar to its Indian relative, Moringa oleifera. It is also used for shading of Capsicum and Sorghum crops, as a companion plant; and additionally in folk medicine.
Another use is the clarification and purification of water to make it potable. A powder made by grinding the seeds is found to be more effective at coagulating substances in suspension than the seeds of the closely related horseradish tree (M. oleifera), which is used for this purpose in India.
- Under its current treatment of Moringa stenopetala (from its basionym, Donaldsonia stenopetala), this species was published in Senckenbergiana Biologica 38: 407. 1957. "Moringa stenopetala". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- The basionym of Moringa stenopetala, Donaldsonia stenopetala, was first described and published in Journal of Botany, British and Foreign 1896: 53. 1896. "Donaldsonia stenopetala". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- Leone A, Spada A, Battezzati A, Schiraldi A, Aristil J, Bertoli S (2015). "Cultivation, Genetic, Ethnopharmacology, Phytochemistry and Pharmacology of Moringa oleifera Leaves: An Overview". International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 16: 12791–12835. doi:10.3390/ijms160612791. PMC 4490473. PMID 26057747.
- Samia Al Azharia Jahn (1991). "The Traditional Domestication of a Multipurpose Tree Moringa stenopetala (Bak.f.) Cuf. in the Ethiopian Rift Valley". Ambio. 20 (6): 244–247. JSTOR 4313833.
- "Moringa stenopetala: African Moringa". Seed People. Retrieved 2013-12-17.
- "Birdlife Data Zone: Konso - Segen", Birdlife International website . Retrieved 15 January 2011.
- "The Moringa Tree Moringa oleifera" (PDF). Trees for Life International. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-06-21. Retrieved 2011-01-15.
- Desa, Dian (1985). "Water purification with Moringa seeds". Waterlines. 3 (4): 22–3. doi:10.3362/0262-8104.1985.019.