Moringa peregrina Forssk. ex Fiori

This native of the Red Sea region is mayb ethe strangest member of a strange group. When Moringa peregrina seedlings start out, they have broad leaflets and a large tuber. Through many dry seasons, the shoot dies back below ground to the tuber. As the plant gets older, the leaves get longer and longer, but the leaflets get smaller and smaller and more widely spaced. Adult trees produce leaves with a full complement of tiny leaflets, only to drop them as the leaf matures. However, the naked leaf axis remains, giving the tree a wispy look similar to Tamarix or Cercidium microphyllum. The pink zygomorphic flowers are sweetly scented and contrast with the blue leaves.

A lot of ads from purveyors of Moringa products will try to tell you that the ancient Romans and Egyptians used Moringa oleifera. Not true- in fact, M. peregrina oil was one of the important oils of ancient times. A least in the southern Arabian Peninsula, the tubers of saplings are roasted and eaten.

Moringa peregrina images
1) Moringa-covered hillside in northern Oman; 2) young seedling in cultivation; 3) and 4) adults in northern Oman;
5) fruits; 6) seeds: brown ones are fertile while white ones are sterile
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click on a thumbnail for a larger image


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all material © 2014 Mark E Olson