Moringa Stenopetala

Moringa Stenopetala

20-50 Moringa stenopetala trees are enough to support a family with 10-15 members by providing food supply even in situations when no other sources of food are available.

Moringa Stenopetala

Moringa stenopetala plays a vital role for household food security, as a source of income, medicine, fodder, fuel and shade tree all year round.

The Moringa stenopetala is a deciduous plant cultivated in the southern part of Ethiopia. Moringa steneopetala is used for food, fodder, shade, windbreak, cash and medicine. It is a contingency crop in frequently drought-affected lowland areas with its high yielding capacity under drought condition and it can be harvested all year round.

Moringa – The Cabbage Tree

Farmers in Ethiopia are using Moringa stenopetala during both dry and wet seasons in their diet.

Moringa stenopetala – The African Moringa

Moringa stenopetala is often referred to as the African Moringa Tree because it is native only to Ethiopia and northern Kenya. Though it does grow in many other parts of the old- and new-world tropics, it is not as widely known as its close relative, Moringa oleifera. Many parts of the plant have been used in medicinal preparations. Whole
plants have been used as living hedges, fences, and windbreaks. The wood is very soft; useful for paper but makes low-grade firewood and poor charcoal. The crushed seeds are used as a coagulant similar to the chemical alum. Moringa stenopetala has large edible leaves and seeds and is more drought- but less freeze-resistant than Moringa oleifera. Freezes may cause it to die back to ground level, where new sprouts may be produced. Moringa stenopetala has also lushest green foliage and continues to grow during exceptionally long dry seasons. It velops into a round shrub-like tree and has been grown as an ornamental in private gardens in Kenya, reaching a height of 10-12 m and a trunk diameter of at least 2-3 times as that of Moringa oleifera in Sudan. In Ethiopia, Moringa stenopetala grows wild in elevations between 1000 and 1800 m, and it will grow in up to 2000 m

Traditional communities use the plant for multiple purposes such as source of food and medicine. Moringa stenopetala nutritional and medicinal importance have been tested and confirmed by several researchers in different scientific studies. Hence, Moringa stenopetala is the promising tree that can supplement the nutritional needs of malnourished peoples of all ages including children and women, especially in developing countries. The raw leaves of Moringa stenopetala are also reported to contain goitrogenic factor that can be detrimental to human’s health.

The uses of the Moringa Stenopetala tree are almost endless, as it supplies a leafy green, edible flower buds and blossoms, edible seed pods, seeds that can be effectively used to purify water, and branches that make excellent mulch. That is just a sampling of the uses of Moringa Stenopetala, and there are many, many more.

Study Analyses – Moringa Oleifera versus Moringa Stenopetala

Nutritive Value -´Moringa stenopetala vs Moringa oleifera

Local Moringa stenopetala names – Amharic (shifara,haleko); English (cabbage tree) 
Moringa stenopetala description: is a tree 6-12 m tall having a diameter of 60cm (DBH) and a smooth bark; its crown is strongly branched, sometimes with several trunks, and its wood is soft. 

Moringa stenopetala leaves are bi- or tri-pinnate, with about 5 pairs of pinnae and 3-9 elliptic to ovate leaflets per pinna. 
The flowers are very fragrant with cream flushed pink sepals, white, pale yellow or yellow-green petals, white filaments and yellow anthers. The ovary is ovoid and densely hairy. 
Moringa stenopetala pods are elongate reddish with greyish bloom having grooved valves. 

Moringa stenopetala grows naturally in the Acacia tortilis-Delonix elata-Commiphora spp. vegetation-complex. This type of vegetation is often found in well-drained soils at altitudes of 900-1200 m. The species is quite drought resistant. In southern Ethiopia, it has been found in areas of me an annual rainfall ranging from 500-1400mm. Cold temperatures are limiting factor for the cultivation of the species in Ethiopia because it does not tolerate frost.

Moringa stenopetala BIOPHYSICAL LIMITS Altitude

400-2100 m. Mean annual temperature: 24-30 deg C. Mean annual rainfall: 500-1400 mm Soil type: The species does not have any specific soil requirements, except it does not grow on waterlogged or swampy soils. The soil PH ranges from acidic to alkaline but mostly exhibit neutral reaction. 


Native: Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia Exotic: suggest that the species can be planted in every ecological zone within that country, nor that the species can not be planted in other countries than those depicted. Since some tree species are invasive, you need to follow  biosafety procedures that apply to your planting site.


Food:  The leaves and fruits are eaten as vegetables and are rich in proteins, calcium, iron, phosphorous as well as vitamins A and C. 

Fodder:  The use of leaves and pods for animal fodder is currently of minor importance compared to their use for human consumption. Yet, due to their high protein content this is a promising potential use. 
Fuel: Growing rapidly, these trees have softwood that is not particularly suitable for fuel. But because the supplies are so scarce, it is often used as a fuel in its natural range. 

SERVICES Ornamental

It is a valued ornamental in its natural range. 
Boundary or barrier or support: It serves as a live fence in areas of its natural range. 
Intercropping:  The species is grown in mixed multi-storey stands with food crops. The home gardens in Ethiopia (Arba Minch area) for instance, include at least 5, and sometimes up to 15 Moringa stenopetala trees per 0.1 ha. Farmers practice permanent multi-storeyed cultivation with Moringa stenopetala at the uppermost level, Carica papaya, coffee and bananas in the upper-middle level, cassava, maize and sugar cane in the lower-middle level and cotton and pepper in the lowest level. 

Pollution control: One of the most promising potential uses of Moringa stenopetala is to purify turbid water. The seeds of this and some other species of the Moringaceae have flocculating and anti-microbial properties. The active substances are found only in the cotyledons of the seeds. 


Cold temperatures inhibit seeds of Moringa stenopetala; under low temperatures (at and below 15 deg C) an enforced dormancy has been found to occur. The speed of germination of untreated seeds depends on temperature, humidity and watering. Seeds placed at 8 deg. C in a refrigerator for 24 hours before sowing showed 88% germination in an experiment. The seeds remain viable for several years as evidenced by germination rates of 96-98% recorded for 44 month-old seeds.

Moringa stenopetala is more resistant to insect pests than other species of its family. Most farmers in its natural range report that they never saw diseases or pests on this tree. On deep generic ferrasols, the seeds have been found to be attacked by insects after sowing.