Review Article (Open access)

SSR Inst. Int. J. Life. Sci., 5(3): 2322-2327, May 2019

History, Taxonomy and Propagation of Moringa oleifera-A Review


Ramachandraiah Mallenakuppe1*, Harini Homabalegowda2, Mahadevappa Demappa Gouri3, Prasanna S. Basavaraju4, Umashankar B. Chandrashekharaiah5

1Veterinary Officer, Department of AH & VS, Govt. of Karnataka, Ramanagar, Karnataka, India

2PhD Scholar, Department of Animal Genetics and Breeding, Veterinary College, Hebbal, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

3Assistant Professor, Department of Livestock Production and Management, Veterinary College, Hebbal, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

4Assoicate Professor (I/C), Department of LFC, Veterinary College, Hebbal, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

5Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Nutrition, Veterinary College, Hebbal, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India


*Address for Correspondence: Dr. Ramachandraiah, M, Veterinary Officer, Dept. of AH & VS, Govt. of Karnataka, Ramanagar, Karnataka, India



ABSTRACT- India is one of the fastest developing countries in the world. Presently India has the largest livestock population in the world. With the increase in human population, to meet the present and future demands of this population, certain new strategies are to be adapted to meet the input requirements and also to enhance the production potential of Indigenous as well as crossbred cattle and other class of livestock for production, reproduction and they are by-products. Current work about the compilation of review works presented by various research works depicts the status and factors responsible for underutilisation of Moringa oleifera (M. oleifera). Especially with respect to the knowledge on taxonomy, distribution, diverse utilisations, nutritional value, socioeconomic importance, morphological and genetic diversity, domestication, propagation and management of M. oleifera is concerned. Knowledge gaps, research and development avenues were suggested and discussed for improved valorisation. Since M. oleifera contains most of the nutrients which are required for all classes of livestock including poultry and fish, and even in man moringa leaves are used as a tea powder, as a leafy vegetable etc, The M. oleifera is also a good source of minerals and essential amino acids; the use of moringa can be extended in the pig as well as rabbit production also. Therefore, the characteristics of Moringa make it to be considered as one of the world’s most useful trees. Better nutritional quality and high biomass production, especially in dry period support its significance as livestock fodder.

Key Words: Livestock fodder, Moringa oleifera, Nutritional value, Propagation, Taxonomy

INTRODUCTION- Each part of the Moringa tree (fruits, seeds, leaves, flowers, bark and roots) is associated with the presence of at least one, or in most number of benefits. M. oleifera is one of the world’s mostly used plants. All parts of the species are traditionally used for different purposes, but leaves are generally the most used all over the world. Fodder scarcity and Low quality of available fodder are considered to be the major constraints hampering the productivity of farm animals. The available feed particularly in a dry season when natural pastures are mature is highly fibrous and inadequate with low nutritive value due to low crude protein content [1].

Moringa species are all native to Asia, from where they have been propagated across many parts of the world especially more seen in warm countries, such as Malaysia and other tropical countries. This tree can tolerate temperatures from 19oC to 28oC, and has height from 5 to 10 m and can be cultured throughout the plains. Moringa leaves are being used as a medicine because it is said to contain many phyto-chemicals, hence it is used as preventive and curative purposes [2].

Many underutilised crops and trees are the main target for the studies by   plant scientists, nutritionists, and growers.  Of the many plant and tree verities, Moringa oleifera is one of these, which has been neglected since several years, but of late the moringa is being investigated for its fast growth, higher nutritional attributes, and utilization as a livestock fodder crop. Moringa can be grown in areas where growing of other crops is difficult. It can also be grown as a crop on marginal lands with high temperatures and low water availability [3-6].

M. oleifera are originated in sub-Himalayan tracts of the Indian sub-continent. This is one of the fast growing, evergreen, deciduous medium sized perennial tree of about 10 m to 12 m height. The bark has whitish-grey colour and is surrounded by thick cork. Young shoots have purplish or greenish-white bark. Flowers are yellowish creamy white and sweet smelling. The matured fruit is a hanging capsule of 20 - 45 cm size having 15 to 20 dark brown globular seeds of 1 to 1.2 cm diameter [7].

At present country facing the deficit of green, dry and concentrate at the level of  63.5%, 23.5%, and 64% respectively as a result the CP and TDN availability are not meeting the requirement causing deficit of about 26.5% and 23.70% respectively [8]. Further due to ever-increasing population pressure of human beings, arable land is mainly used for food and cash crops, thus there is little chance of having good quality arable land available for fodder production unless milk production becomes remunerative to the farmer as compared to other crops. The unconventional fodder resources such as Azola, moringa, sesbania, cactuses, etc are emergency fodders with high nutritive values [9].


Table 1: Area under fodder crop [8]


Area (mh)




Gross cropped area (excluding fodder crop)




Area under fodder crop




Permanent pastures and grazing land




Land under miscellaneous tree crops





To meet the current level of livestock production and its annual growth in population, the deficit in all components of fodder, dry crop residues, and feed has to be met through increasing productivity, utilizing untapped feed resources, increasing cultivable land area or through imports.

Trees and browse species like Subabul, Morus, Glyricidia and Sesbania have been used as livestock fodder for centuries in India and many other countries. Most trees and shrubs are easily propagated and not require high management inputs (fertilizers and pesticides) or advanced technology.

Mendieta-Araica et al. [10]; Richter et al. [11]; Sanchez et al. [12] have explored M. oleifera cultivation and propagation practices and its utilization as livestock fodder and also in fish diet. The results of their studies showed that moringa species has great potential as livestock fodder.


Natural history, range and growing condition of M. oleifera- M. oleifera is a widespread multipurpose tree reported to have nutritional, therapeutic and prophylactic properties with several industrial applications. It is well known to the ancient world, but only recently it has been rediscovered due to the tremendous variety of its potential uses. It is a fast-growing, a perennial tree which can reach a maximum height of 7 to 12 m up to the crown [13] and found growing naturally at elevations of up to 1000 m above sea level. It can grow well on hillsides, but is more frequently found growing on pasture land or in river basins as a non-cultivated plant.

M. oleifera belongs to the monogeneric family of shrubs and tree Moringaceae, considered to have its origin in Agra and Oudh, in the northwest region of India and south of the Himalayan Mountains. It is now cultivated throughout the Middle East, almost the whole tropical belt and it was introduced in Eastern Africa from India at the beginning of 20th century.


Table 2: Taxonomic position of M. oleifera



















About 33 species have been reported in the family Moringaceae [14]. Among those, thirteen species namely, M. arborea, M. borziana, M. concanensis, M. drouhardi, M. hildebrandtii, M. longituba, M. oleifera, M. ovalifolia, M. peregrina, M. pygmaea, M. rivae, M. ruspoliana, M. stenopetala are well known and found worldwide.


Table 3: Geographic distribution of documented thirteen Moringa species



Geographical location

Slender trees

M. concanensis


M. oleifera


M. peregrine

Fiori Red Sea, Arabia, Horn of Africa

Bottle trees

M. drouhardii


M. hildebrandtii


M. ovalifolia

Namibia and S.W. Angola

M. stenopetala

Kenya and Ethiopia

Tuberous shrubs and herbs of North Eastern Africa

M. arborea

North Eastern Kenya

M. borziana

Kenya and Somalia

M. longituba

Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia

M. pygmaea

North Somalia

M. rivae

Kenya and Ethiopia

M. ruspoliana

Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia


Table 4: Some common names of Moringa oleifera [15]



Common Name


Common Name








Munaga, Tellamunaga




Maissang, Moxing




Achajhada, Shevgi


saijna, shajna


Drumstick tree


murinna, sigru


Saijna, Sohjna




La ken


Production and management of M. oleifera is easy due to its fast growth, low demand for soil nutrients and water after being planted especially in later stages, high capacity to resprout after harvesting make it to perform better under marginal conditions with ample nutritional quality [16].


Table 5: Ecological Requirements of M. oleifera [3]





Tropical or sub-tropical


0-2000 meters




250mm-2000mm. Irrigation needed for leaf production if rainfall <800mm


Loamy, sandy or sandy-loam


Slightly acidic to slightly alkaline (pH5-9)


Its roots penetrate deep into the soil to search for water and nutrients, which enables Moringa trees to tolerate severe conditions. Relatively low requirements of irrigation make Moringa superior to some other livestock meals like soybean, cotton seed cake, and range grasses which require intensive irrigation makes it too difficult to cultivate for small livestock farmers [17]. M. oleifera can be grown in diverse soils, including hot, humid, dry tropical and subtropical regions except for waterlogged conditions. Slightly alkaline clay and sandy loam soils are considered the best media for this species due to their good drainage [18].


Table 6: Undesirable sites for Moringa cultivation [19]




Industrial waste dumps

Absorption of undesirable  or toxic heavy metals e.g. mercury, arsenic, lead, etc.

Refuse dumps


Absorption of undesirable  or toxic heavy metals e.g. mercury, arsenic, lead, etc.

Waterlogged sites

Poor drainage causes roots to rot. e.g. rice fields, clay, river beds, etc.

Termite infested soils

Destruction of young and mature  trees

Animal grazing fields

Destruction of young and mature  trees


The research report by Japanese has displayed that the rate of absorption of carbon dioxide by the Moringa tree is twenty times higher than that of general vegetation. The capacity of the Moringa tree is inspiring in mitigating the adverse effects of climate change [20].

The morphological parts of M. oleifera include stem, branch, leaves, flowers, fruits with the seeds. Fruits are trilobed pods contain 12-35 seeds, each tree can produce 15000-25000 seeds/year, the average weight per seed is 0.3g and the kernel to hull ratio is 75:25 [21].


Propagation of Moringa- Moringa can be propagated by direct seed planting, seedling transplanting and mature stem cuttings. Direct seeding is preferable when the germination rate is high. Seeds must be sown at a maximum depth of 2 cm as deeper seeding might reduce the germination rate. There are around 4000 Moringa seeds (with their shell) in a kilo with the germination percentage of 78-94 percent. Moringa seeds germinate 5 to 12 days after seeding [22].

Seedlings are grown in polythene bags or sacks prefilled with topsoil by sowing seeds at 2 cm depth and watering once in every 2-3 days. After showing they have to be placed in a slightly shaded area and also protect from heavy rains. The young Moringa plants must be nursed for 4 weeks before transplanting for better survival rate when they are about 30 cm high. Remove the polythene bag when transplanting ensuring that the roots of the plant are not damaged. Hardwood cuttings of 40 cm long and 4 to 5 cm in diameter [23], can also be used for propagation by burying one-third of the stem in the soil. Plants produced with cuttings will not have a deep root system will be more sensitive to wind drought and termite attacks.


Seed production: Spacing must be much wider for fruit or seed production. Trees must be at least 2.5 m apart line and peg using a 3 x 3 m triangular pattern for seed-producing farms.


Limitations: Apart from its advantage as high biomass yielding and highly nutritious fodder for both human and livestock there are many limitations for intended cultivation and utilization. Not suitable for cultivation in the highly irrigated area. Lack of exact package practices to cultivate moringa for fodder production. Lack of preservation and processing technology under local conditions. Insufficient researches to validate the level of inclusion under local condition. It can never be used as a sole source feed and fodder for livestock because of its high level of Crude Protein which has to be balanced with energy. Since the moringa leaves are also used as a vegetable for human beings creates demand and eventual cost hike.


CONCLUSIONS- M. oleifera is a multipurpose plant with the potential to reduce the dependence on expensive conventional protein supplements, the relative ease with which Moringa can  be  propagated  through  both  sexual  and  asexual means, low demand  of soil nutrients  and water. Moringa has almost all essential nutrients in adequate amounts for maintenance and production; provide macro and micronutrient to boost the nutritive value of the feed. Due to high nutritive value, Moringa has been used as a feed supplement in most livestock species and poultry. Its supplementation not only increases meat and milk production but also the quality, healthfulness and shelf life of the produce.

The future prospects of moringa to be explored in terms of the proper sowing densities and harvesting frequencies, information on agronomical practices, planting densities and cutting frequencies for getting maximum biomass with good nutritional quality need to be explored, studies directed towards the detection and commercialization of bioactive compounds to the development of remedies for several ailments. Beside from this, its fertilizer and irrigation requirements as a fodder crop have not yet been studied, which needs attention for more biomass production. Finally the policy makers, research and extension institutions should formulate programs focusing on generating awareness among local communities and farmers, especially among those who are engaged in livestock production, to emphasize the planting of Moringa as a “FOOD-FEED” crop for their family and their livestock.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS- Since the article is of Review nature no financial support was required only the efforts put to compile the article was immense from all the co-authors more specifically my mentor Dr. Mahadevappa D. Gouri, I thank him for his motivation and guidance for this to happen.



Research concept- Mahadevappa D. Gouri

Research design- Mahadevappa D. Gouri, Ramachandraiah

Supervision- Umashankar, Mahadevappa D. Gouri

Materials- Ramachandraiah, Mahadevappa D. Gouri

Data collection- Ramachandraiah, Mahadevappa D. Gouri

Data analysis and Interpretation- Ramachandraiah, Mahadevappa D. Gouri, Harini

Literature search- Ramachandraiah, Harini

Writing article- Ramachandraiah, Mahadevappa D. Gouri

Critical review-Mahadevappa D Gouri, Prasanna

Article editing- Ramachandraiah, Mahadevappa D. Gouri

Final approval- Ramachandraiah, Mahadevappa D. Gouri, Umashankar, Prasanna




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