Pest Interactions

Moringa oleifera is relatively unaffected by disease problems. It's tolerant of occasional outbreaks of pest because of how vigorous it grows. This makes it possible for pesticide intervention to be generally unnecessary. Aphids and Cabbage Worms have been seen on M. oleifera, but it appears as if they cause no direct harm to the tree. Because this is such a versatile plant an can grow in various places, many of the organisms that negatively affect Moringa oleifera are dependent on where the tree is located. In Niger,  the main pests are caterpillars, however this can kept under control by simple pruning. In India, the tree is unaffected by diseases, but is impacted by root rot associated with poor drainage caused by Diplodia sp. Termites are a problem regardless of where the tree grows. This species is mostly negatively impacted by the hairy caterpillar, Eupterote molifera, the fungus Sphaeropsis sapinea, and borers. The presence of borers is a problem because it is not detected until the plant becomes damaged or dies. The severity of the damages depends how many insects are infecting the plant and where the infection takes place. Some infect the phloem, destroying the ability for the plant to transport food, while others target the xylem which disrupts the flow of water and structurally weakens the tree.

Human Interactions

Moringa oleifera is considered to be one of the most useful trees because almost every part of the plant is edible and posses many beneficial nutrients which have been used for food, medications, and industrial purposes. M. oleifera, specifically in Kenya has been used to treat vulnerable groups. These Kenyan groups included the malnourished, children under five, those with vitamin or mineral deficiencies, TB, diabetes, cancer, AIDs, pregnant/lactating women, orphans, the elderly, and the disabled. It has been used widely for the treatment of certain diseases such as abdominal tumors, hysteria, scurvy, paralytic attacks, helmintic baldder, prostate abnormalities, sores, and skin infections. The National Charity for Organic Growing has done studies and found that this tree provides relief from many other medical problems such as, rheumatism, gout, sexually transmitted diseases, urinary tract infections, boils, anemia, and epilepsy. It was proven in laboratory testing that Moringa oleifera contains the antibiotic property pytergospermin, which can be used to treat fungal infections  It has also been used recently for the treatment of cardiovascular and liver diseases, inflammation, and the regulation of blood sugar and nutrients. Studies are also being done on the effectiveness of this tree while trying to treat cancer. One study displayed that the extract contains anti-cancer properties which trigger apoptosis, programmed cell death, and decreases the progression and proliferation of cancer cells.  M. oleifera is currently used mostly for its immune boosting properties. It's also used as a food source. The immature pods are what is most valued for nutritional purposes because they contain all the essential amino acids, many vitamins, and nutrients. The roots, leaves, bark, and flowers can all be eaten as well. The seeds are also used for water purification.  The seed powder can remove dirt in water by joining with the particles and sinking it to the bottom. It can effectively remove harmful bacteria as well. This can provide a safe, economically efficient way for countries without the advance technological methods to obtain clean water. The seeds can also be defatted and ground up to be used for agricultural purposes. It can be used to provide more nutrients in animal feed or as a fertilizer for crops. The treated seeds can enrich soil increasing productivity. It is considered that the seeds are also a potential source for biofuel materials. With proper extraction techniques, M. oleifera could become more profitable and prevalent as our fossil fuel supplies continue to decline.

Other Organism Interactions

May animals that feed on Moringa oleifera are livestock. Cattle, cows, poultry, goats, pigs, and sheep all use this tree as a food source. In fact, the best diet for pigs should consist of 70% of M. oleifera. It is such a successful supplement among live stock because it's inexpensive, and has a high nutrient density and absorption rate. Because of its high nutrient count, it is also utilized by nursing mothers because it can increase the amount of natural calcium found in the mother's milk by 25%. It can be given to any type of animals such as dogs, cats and, horses as a supplement for developing young. It is referred to as a "mother's best friend" in Africa but because it is so adaptive to different environments, other continents are able to obtain and utilize the same nutrients.

Learn more about the awesome uses of Moringa oleifera by looking at my cancer research!

HomeMultiple Organisms