Notes:

This page is under construction.  The data has not been reviewed and should be considered provisional.   Corrections and contributions of information about moringa cultivars are welcome.

In much of the popular literature about moringa, species of moringa are confused with varieties.  These terms are not interchangeable. Varieties and cultivars are not species.  Varieties are of a taxonomic rank below that of species and subspecies.  Varieties have distinct characteristics that distinguish them from other varieties of a species and may be naturally occurring or selected for by plant breeding programs or other human intervention.

The terms “variety” and “cultivar” are often used interchangeably.  On other sections of this website we refer to varieties deliberately developed in cultivation as “cultivars”.  However, most authors refer to cultivars of moringa as “varieties” so we will use that term here.

Ecotypes are distinct forms or races of one species occupying a specific habitat.

 

Leaves of Moringa oleifera

Leaves of Moringa oleifera
Photo © Edward Rau, Sustainable Bioresources, LLC

 

 

Varieties and Ecotypes of Moringa oleifera

After extensive searching, we were unable to find any published compilation of data on varieties and ecotypes of moringa.  The available information focuses on varieties developed in India.  Information on varieties from other regions is scattered among numerous publications, many of them obscure.  In this section, we present the data on moringa varieties that we have collected and excerpted from published sources so far.  We will also be adding information provided by growers on the performance of seeds of different varieties and ecotypes from our bank to seed lot data sheets.  From this data, new varieties and ecotypes may be identified and described, and summary information on these will be added to this section.

 

 

 

Institutions Developing Improved Varieties of Moringa

Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), India.  Extensive efforts to develop new cultivars of Indian moringa have been in progress for many years in India and are ongoing there.  Much of the early pioneering work in developing improved varieties of Indian moringa was conducted by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) in Coimbatore. The Research Institute of TNAU, Periyakulam, has an assemblage of 85 moringa accessions. The germplasm collection block contains perennial and annual moringa accessions with heavy fruit-bearing, cluster bearing, drought tolerance, dwarfing stature, and pest and disease resistance traits[1].  In current seed breeding programs varieties with these traits are sought[2]:

  • Dwarf statured plants
  • Varieties suitable for leaf production
  • High yielding types
  • Varieties with more seed and oil content
  • Development of types resistant to pest and diseases

The status of varietal development in India was summarized in a presentation at the University by Dr. H.P. Singh in 2010[3].  This information was updated recently in a new publication by TANU2. Much of the following discussion on Indian varieties presented here was excerpted from these sources.

University of Hawaii. The Sustainable Organic & Framing Systems Laboratory at the University of Hawaii carries out research to replace imported produce with alternative crops including moringa.  Assistance with variety selection and evaluation has been identified as a high priority need by farmers and extension agents.  A primary intent of these evaluations has been to optimize grower profits by enhancing quality and reducing costs of production.  Currently activities by the laboratory’s Moringa Working Group include evaluations of germplasm, and mycorrizal dependency of varieties of two moringa species.  Moringa variety trials are conducted at Poamoho, O‘ahu[4].  Investigations aimed at optimizing the agronomy of the crop for leaf, pod and oil production are pending[5].

Yunnan Tropical Crops Research Institute.  China and Cuba have developed a cooperative research program on moringa and opened a large research center in Xishuangbanna, the southernmost prefecture of Yunnan province, in April 2014.  The program will include seed exchanges and development of improved varieties[6].

South China Agricultural University, Guandong conducts a breeding program focused on exploiting the functional genes associated with important agronomical traits[7].

 

Varieties of Other Moringa Species

We are not aware of varieties or any named cultivars of Moringa species except for Moringa oleifera (Indian moringa).  There are several named varieties of Indian moringa that are widely used in cultivation, and many more named varieties and ecotypes.

Varieties of Moringa oleifera

Most cultivars of this species have been developed for improved production of drumsticks, also referred to as pods or fruit.  Few cultivars have apparently been specifically developed for leaf production although seeds for unnamed large leaved varieties are available.

Moringa varieties may be broadly classified into two groups: perennial and annual1.

Perennial types have probably been in cultivation for thousands of years.  In India perennial types are typically propagated from cuttings.  These types have several characteristics that have constrained their use for in commercial production, and favored development and cultivation of annual varieties: long growing time before reaching maturity for production of pods, limited availability of suitable planting materials (stem cuttings), less resistance to pests and diseases and greater rainfall requirements.  They may be unsuited for areas with short growing seasons or shortages of water.

Annual types such as Periyakulam-1 (PKM-1) and PKM-2, are largely the products of recent plant breeding research and have now replaced most the perennial varieities that previously dominated commercial production in India.  They are seed propagated, offer rapid maturation, higher yields and greater adaptability to varied soil and climatic conditions1.

Annual types may have significant variation in some cultural characteristics.  Suthanthirapandian et al (1989) cited in Agricultural Forum (2012)1 studied the variability of nine traits in seedling populations of annual moringa.  Among the traits studied, the number of flowers per inflorescence (19.0-126.0), fruit weight (25.0-231.5g) and yield by number of fruit per plant (1.0-155.0), showed widest variability.

Disadvantages of annual types compared with perennial types may include shorter lifespans, requirements for more frequent replanting and reduced genetic diversity.

Ayurvedic Classification

Three varieties of Moringa are referenced in Ayurvedic text books[8].

  1. Shyama– black variety (most common),
  2. Shveta– white variety and
  3. Rakta– red variety. It is also called as Madhu shigru.

 

Named Varieties of Moringa oleifera from India

Anupama is a drumstick production variety released from KAU, India.

Coimbatore 1 is widely available in India and considered superior for drumstick production and quality. Drumsticks are from 45-60cm long with two harvests per year.  Tree yield product for eight to ten years.  For additional information on this variety refer to the AgriFarming Drumstick Farming Guide[9].

Coimbatore 2 is a more popular variety than Combiatore 1 in Tamil Nadu with shorter drumsticks (25-35cm long). A high yielding drumstick production variety with bulky pods.  Production life from three to four years.  For additional information on this variety refer to the AgriFarming Drumstick Farming Guide9.

Moolanur is a perennial ecotype cultivated by farmers in Tamil Nadu.  The trees can be maintained up to 15 years without pruning2.

Valayapatti is a perennial ecotype cultivated in and around Usilampatti and Andipatti.  It yields 1000-1200 pods per tree2.

 

Improved Indian Drumstick Varieties Developed by the Public Sector

These include KM 1, PKM 1, PKM 2, GKVK 1, 2, 3, Dhanaraj, Bhagya (KDM 1), Konkan Ruchira, Anupama and Rohit 1.

Bhagya (KDM-1) is a drumstick variety developed by the University of Horticultural Sciences, Bagalkot[10]   It has recently been shown to be pest resistant and well adapted to growing in the hot, dry region of Chikkodi Taluk.  The variety is long-lived with a lifespan of 15-20 years[11].

Dhanaraj (S 6/4) was developed by TNAU and is the only dwarf variety that we have found described in the literature.  It has a canopy of only 2.00 – 2.5m in height.  It flowers early in 7-8 months, is high yielding (250 -300 pods/plant/year) and of good cooking quality2.

Seeds of this variety may be available from our seed bank.

 

G.K.V.K. -1, G.K.V.K. -2 and G.K.V.K. -3 are improved drumstick varieties.

Periyakulam 1 and 2 (PKM 1 and PKM 2) are the two commercially viable annual varieties for drumstick production developed by the Horticultural Research Station of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU).  As annuals they may have to be replanted more often but may be most suited for areas with short growing seasons and climates that are too cold for the trees to survive through the winter.  In India the variety can be in production for four or five years before replacement is required.  Refer to the Agricultural Forum reference1 for summary characteristics and comparison of these two varieties.

PKM1 was developed through pure line selection and is only propagated from seed.  It is an early variety of medium or dwarf stature, reaching a height of 4M in the first year after planting and can produce flowers and pods just six months after sowing. PKM1 may be the most widely planted variety for large scale plantation drumstick production.  It has a yield potential of 50-54 tonnes/ha and is suitable for growing in the stubble of other crops previously harvested on the same land (a ratoon crop).  A full characterization of the oil from this variety has been reported[12].

In addition to its rapid growth and maturity some suppliers of this variety advertise additional improved characteristics relating to fruit (drumstick) production:

  • Shorter trees
  • Higher pod yield
  • Uniform pod length and green color
  • Non-bitter flavor
  • Texture that is fleshy, non-fibrous and soft even late in harvest.
  • Rubbery, more flexible form reducing breakage
  • Extended shelf life

Seeds of this variety grown in India and African locations are available from our seed bank.

PKM 2 is a higher yield hybrid derived from crossing MP 31 and MP 38.   It has produces an average of 240 fruits per tree with an average yield of 98 tonnnes/ha.  According to a TNAU website optimal planting densities for maximum yield differ for these two varieties.  For PKM1 spacing is 1.5 X 1.0 m with two plants/hill; for PKM2 the closest spacing of 1.2 x 1.2 m.  PKM1, PKM2 and KM 1 are preferred annual varieties in southern India growing areas[1].  PKM2 requires more water than PKM1.  It is suitable for intercropping as an intermediate crop with coconut and tropical fruit orchards.

KM 1.  A TNAU recommended variety (TNAU 1).

Rohit 1 is a long lived and early yielding drumstick production variety with first production of pods four to six months after planting.  For additional information on this variety refer to the AgriFarming Drumstick Farming Guide9.

 

Improved Varieties Developed by Private Sector

MS01 and MS02 are believed to be perennial types with high productivity and germination rates intended for plantation planting.  MS01 is a variety apparently developed in India by the private sector [Ancient Greenfields PVT LTD (AGF)].  We have not confirmed the description of MS01 and do not have information on the characteristics of MS02.  We have requested AGF to provide it.

Seeds of the MS01 variety are available from our seed bank.

 

Regional Land Races Identified by Farmers and Others in India

These include Chemmurungai, Durga, , K.M.1., Kodikkal, Palmurungai, PAVM, Punamurungai, Saragva, Yalpanam, Yazhpanam.

Kodikkal murungai is a perennial ecotype grown predominantly in the betel vine growing areas of the Tiruchirapalli district of Tamil Nadu.  The trees are short statured with small leaves2.

Punamurungai is a perennial ecotype grown in home gardens of Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts2.  It is preferred for its thick pulp and taste but other references describe it as bitter and the variety unpopular.

Palmurungai is a perennial ecotype preferred for its thick pulp and taste2 but other references describe it as bitter and the variety unpopular.

PAVM.  The PAVM variety was recently developed by a farmer in the Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu and is in wide use.  It is a high yielding drumstick variety that starts yielding pods from the 5th or 6th month of planting.  The variety is propagated from by cuttings made by air layering[13].

 

Other Indian Varieties of Uncertain Origin

These include Bombay4, Kadumurungai (Kadu) and Murunga.

Kadumurungai is a perennial wild ecotype producing small inferior quality pods (Kadhar Mohideen et al.,1982) cited in Agricultural Forum (2012).  Another reference indicates that is actually a wild form of Moringa concanensis found in the forest of Tamil Nadu2.

 

Varieties from Other Regions

Chavakacheri is an ecotype of the perennial Jaffna moringa, which was introduced into India from Sri Lanka2.

Chemmurungai is another regional ecotype of the Jaffna moringa, which was a perennial type introduced into India from Sri Lanka. This variety is high yielding and bears pods throughout the year.  The tips of its pods are red2.

Congo-Brazzaville.  This name was applied to trees growing in neighborhood gardens around the Marien Ngouabi University Campus in Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Oil obtained from the seeds of these trees has been characterized, exhibits good physicochemical properties and could be useful as edible oils and for industrial applications.[14]

Jaffna (Yazhpanam).  A drumstick variety from Sri Lanka introduced into Southern India and cultivated commercially in the Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts of Tamil Nadu2.  The natural antioxidants present in the seed oil of this variety has been determined and compared with that of other vegetable oils[15]  There are three other varieties from Sri Lanka distinguished by the color and length of the pods[16].

Malawi.  A variety from Malawi.  The the seed oil from this variety has been characterized and the antioxidants identified[17] [18]

Mbololo is a variety developed by the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KFRI) of Nairobi, Kenya.  Oil from the seeds of this variety has been characterized[19].  It has high resistance to oxidation and a high ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fatty acids that may make it an acceptable substitute for olive oil in the diet.[20]

Seeds of this variety may be available from our seed bank.

 

South Texas (STX1 and STX2) are varieties developed by Toni Ramirez.  They were grown in the Lorado area of south Texas and are adapted to the high summer temperatures and relatively cold winters of this area[21].

Seeds of the STX2 variety may be available from our seed bank.

 

References Cited

[1] Agriculture Forum (2012).  All about moringa.  http://greenagrow.blogspot.com/2012/11/all-about-moringa.html  [accessed May 30, 2016].

[2] TNAU (Tamil Nadu Agricultural University).  2017? Advances in Production of moringa.  http://agritech.tnau.ac.in/horticulture/pdf/Moringa%20English%20book.pdf [accessed June 1, 2017].

[3] Singh, H.P. 2010.  Moringa: A Crop of Future.  Presentation to the Brain Storming Session on Moringa organized at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, India, September 23, 2010.  Available: http://agritech.tnau.ac.in/horticulture/pdf/Moringa%20-%20A%20Crop%20of%20Future.pdf [accessed July 6, 2016].

[4] Radovich, T.  2011 (revised). Farm and forestry production and marketing profile for Moringa (Moringa oleifera).  In: Elevitch, C.R. (ed). Specialty Crops for Pacific Island Agroforestry.  Permanent Agriculture Resources (PAR), Holualoa Hawai’i. https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/RadovichT/downloads/Moringa_specialty_crop.pdf  [accessed July 2, 2017].

[5] University of Hawaii   e2010-2015. Alternative crops and germplasm selection. https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/RadovichT/lab-germplasm.html   [accessed May 30, 2017].

[6] Qian W., Anfei G.  2014.  China, Cuba cooperate on moringa research.  China Daily.  07JUL2014.  http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2014-07/28/content_17944672.htm [accessed June 1, 2017].

[7] Deng L-T, Wu Y-L, Li J-C, OuYang K-X, Ding M-M, Zhang J-J, et al. (2016) Screening reliable reference genes for RT-qPCR analysis of gene expression in Moringa oleifera. PLoS ONE 11(8): e0159458. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0159458.

[8] Agarwal, V.  The magical moringa by: Vanita Agarwal.  http://www.ayurvedacollege.com/articles/students/MagicalMoringa [accessed May 30, 2017].

[9] Agrifarming. 2017.  Drumstick farming detailed information guide. http://www.agrifarming.in/drumstick-farming/ [accessed May 30, 2017].

[10] UHS Bagalkot.  2017.  Varieties developed from UHS Bagalkot.  1. Drumstick-Bhagya (KDM-01).  http://uhsbagalkot.edu.in/downloads/VARIETIES%20EDITED.pdf  [accessed May 30, 2017].

[11] Patil V. 2016.  Drumstick, the game changer for him.  The Hindu. April 3, 2016.  http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/drumstick-the-game-changer-for-him/article8427905.ece   [accessed May 30, 2017].

[12] Lalas, S., Tasaknis, J.  2002. Characterization of Moringa oleifera seed oil variety “Periyakulum 1”.  J Food Composition and Analysis.  15: 65-67.  DOI: 1006/jfca.2001.1042.

[13] Prabu MJ.  A farmer’s experimentation leads to a highly popular drumstick variety. The Hindu. January 29, 2009.  Updated September 16, 2010.  http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sci-tech-and-agri/A-farmerrsquos-experimentation-leads-to-a-highly-popular-drumstick-variety/article15951226.ece    [accessed May 30, 2017].

[14] J.M. Nzikou, L. Matos, J.E. Moussounga, C.B. Ndangui, A. Kimbonguila, Th. Silou, M. Linder and S. Desobry.2009.  Characterization of Moringa oleifera seed oil variety Congo-Brazzaville.  J.  Food Technology.  7(3): 56-65.

[15] Bhatnagar AS, Krishna A.G.G. 2013.  Natural antioxidants of the Jaffna variety of Moringa Oleifera seed oil of Indian origin as compared to other vegetable oils.  Grasas Y Aceites.  64 (5):537-545.

[16]  Agriculture Forum (2012).  All about moringa.  http://greenagrow.blogspot.com/2012/11/all-about-moringa.html  [accessed May 30, 2017].

[17] Tsaknis, J., Lalas, S., Gergis, V., and Spiliotis, V. (1998). A total characterisation of Moringa oleifera Malawi seed oil.  Riv. Ital. Sost. Gras.  75(1), 21–27.  Cited in Lalas and Tsaknis (2002).

[18] Lalas, S. & Tsaknis, J. J.  2002.  Extraction and identification of natural antioxidant from the seeds of the Moringa oleifera tree variety of Malawi.  J Amer Oil Chem Soc 79(7): 677-683.

[19] Tsaknis J, Lalas S, Gergis V, Dourtoglou V, Spiliotis V. 1999.  Characterization of Moringa oleifera variety Mbololo seed oil of Kenya.  J Agric Food Chem. 47(11):4495-9.

[20] Tasakinis, J., Sapiliotis, V., Lalas, S., Gergis, V., and Dourtoglou, V.  1999.  Quality changes of Moringa oleifera, variety Mbololo of Kenya seed oil during frying.   Riv.  Ital. Sost.  Gras.  75(1): 21-27.

[21] Ramirez, T.  2016.  Personal communication.