Moringa zeylanica Pers.
A large tree, with gummy bark, younger parts pubescent. Leaves alternate, tripinnately imparipinnate, up. to 60 cm long (including 4-15 cm long petiole), deciduous; rachis pubescent, slender, pulvinate and jointed at base; pinnae 5-11, stalk of the pinna 1-3 cm long, articulated at base; pinnules 5-11, petiolule of pinnule 4-8 mm long; rachis of the pinnule articulated with a small rounded gland; leaflets 3-9 (-11), 1-1.75(-2.4) cm long, 0.5-1.8 cm broad, sparsely tomentose above, glabrous below; lateral leaflets elliptic, while terminal obovate and slightly larger; petiolule 1-4 mm long. Inflorescence 8-30 cm long with ovoid buds. Flowers white, c. 2.5 cm across, with 1.3-2.1 cm long pedicel, honey scented. Calyx tube hairy; lobes slightly unequal, petaloid, imbricate, linear to lanceolate 1.3-1.5 cm long, 5-6 mm broad, reflexed, with prominent yellow streaks in the centre, entire, obtuse. Petals white, the anterior erect, others reflexed, ascending imbricate, spathulate with prominent veins, 1.2-1.8 cm long, 5-6 mm broad, acute, entire. Stamens 5, alternating with 5(-7) sterile filaments or sometimes with non func¬tional stamens; filaments villous at base, yellow, stamens 1 cm long, antherless fila¬ments 7 mm long. Ovary oblong, c. 5 mm long; style cylindric, less villous than the ovary. Fruit a 9-ribbed pendulous pod, 30-45 cm long, somewhat tomentose when young. Seeds embedded in the pits of the valves, 3 angled, winged, blackish, rounded.
Fl. Per. Jan.-April.
Type: Described from Malabar, Ceylon and other regions of India (Panicles & flowers) Sonnerat; (fruits) de jussieu (P).
Distribution: Perhaps indigenous in the sub-Himalayan tracts but commonly cultivated in the Punjab plains, Sind, Baluchistan and N.W.F.P. and elsewhere throughout India and many other tropical countries.
The root is a substitute for horse-radish and used by Anglo-Indians in medi¬cines as a vesicant. Flowers and immature fruits are eaten in curries and are said to be a good rubefacient. Several parts of the plant are used in native medicines and an oil known as Ben oil is extracted from the seeds and used by watch makers as a lubricant in fine machinery. The branches are often lopped for fodder.