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Leaf Protein and Mineral Concentrations across the “Miracle Tree” Genus Moringa

Mark E. Olson, Renuka P. Sankaran, Jed W. Fahey, Michael A. Grusak, David Odee, Wasif Nouman, Ricardo Aroca
Plos One 2016 v.11 no.7 pp. 1-17
Moringa oleifera, Moringa stenopetala, breeding, calcium, chemical constituents of plants, drought tolerance, dry tropics, gardens, hybrids, leaf protein, leaves, lowlands, nutritive value, plant micronutrients, plant nutrition, surveys, trees
The moringa tree Moringa oleifera is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree cultivated across the lowland dry tropics worldwide for its nutritious leaves. Despite its nutritious reputation, there has been no systematic survey of the variation in leaf nutritional quality across M. oleifera grown worldwide, or of the other species of the genus. To guide informed use of moringa, we surveyed protein, macro-, and micro- nutrients across 67 common garden samples of 12 Moringa taxa, including 23 samples of M. oleifera. Moringa oleifera, M. concanensis, M. stenopetala, an M. concanensis X oleifera hybrid, and M. longituba were highest in protein, with M. ruspoliana having the highest calcium levels. A protein-dry leaf mass tradeoff may preclude certain breeding possibilities, e.g. maximally high protein with large leaflets. These findings identify clear priorities and limitations for improved moringa varieties with traits such as high protein, calcium, or ease of preparation.