Dr. Ted Radovich tends a row of moringa trees in a
test plot in Kunia.
the tree with numerous names and even more uses: Moringa oleifera,
also known as kalamungay, malunggai, drumstick tree, ben oil tree, or
horseradish tree. Most recently, however, it’s been dubbed “miracle tree” in
the popular press, and that’s not surprising. Now CTAHR is working to help
bring its many benefits to a larger group of growers and consumers.
all parts of the moringa are useful: the leaves, young pods, flowers, and seeds
are high in protein, calcium, and many other nutrients, making it ideal for
combatting malnutrition. It also has medicinal uses: the root, besides being
eaten as a horseradish-like condiment, has long been used to combat
inflammation and kidney disease. More recently, scientists have discovered that
the leaves can be used to lower blood sugar, giving hope to people with
diabetes or pre-diabetic conditions. It is just as versatile agriculturally,
being able to grow under near-drought conditions and in poor soil; the fast growth
of this nitrogen-fixer also makes it ideal as a windbreak.
The long pods of the moringa can be harvested and cooked
like green beans.
is common in Hawai‘i, but only as a backyard tree. It’s grown commercially
elsewhere, though, and increased understanding of the tree’s many benefits has
expanded its market potential. CTAHR is researching multiple aspects of the
tree’s selection, propagation, cultivation, and processing, sharing this
knowledge with local growers eager to enter the miracle tree market.
Ted Radovich organized a moringa field day for growers featuring research and marketing
updates and demonstrating new tree types being screened at CTAHR. Plant and
Protection Sciences faculty Christine Lynch and Helen Spafford have taken important
steps towards easing shipping restrictions for kalamungay by proving that the
pods are not hosts for fruit flies. The process is now underway to classify
them as non-hosts, allowing them to be exported to the Mainland without
place in the global moringa community was cemented when Tropical Plant and Soil
faculty and Extension agents were invited to join 300 scientists at the first
international symposium on moringa held in Manila, Philippines. Ted Radovich
presented a talk with CTAHR coauthors Russell Nagata, Glenn Teves, Amjad Ahmad,
and Robert Paull, and DuPonte Pioneer’s John McHugh, on germplasm evaluation
and selection, important for matching the right cultivars for the right growing