The word “miracle,” (like “excellence”) is a word that is much over-used in the hyposphere (yes, that’s a new word I just created. I quite like it, might copyright it). But seriously, there is a “miracle tree” – and its name is Moringa. No, not merengue – as my husband kept pronouncing it – no sinuous wiggling of the hips, here.
It’s grown in many tropical countries, and widely used, especially in India, the Philippines, Burma and also Africa, South America… But it seems Jamaicans haven’t really discovered it and its amazing nutritional qualities (I might add that this is quite commonplace. Other countries make all kinds of things out of bamboo, for example, while Jamaicans burn bamboo stands when they are clearing land. What do we really do with bamboo except a bit of craft here and there?)
But the moringa tree also grows in Jamaica. And here are some facts about it, just so that I can prove that miracles do exist…
Every part of it can be used for food or medicine
It is almost unbelievably nutritious – like a kind of superfood (sorry, I’ve gone into the hyposphere, again)
It is fast-growing and drought-resistant
It can be used to feed domestic animals
It is widely used, especially in Africa, to combat malnutrition – the leaves are, allegedly, packed with many times more vitamins and nutrients than common fruits and vegetables
There is – or was – a large moringa tree on Camp Road in Kingston. Jamaicans in the know would go there to pick the leaves, fruit, etc. One man told my husband, who visited it regularly, that he took it in pill form and it helped him lose a lot of weight. There were, apparently, frequent visitors to the tree, a kind of pilgrimage (well, we are talking about miracles, here). But sad to say, residents of a nearby housing complex didn’t like the tree. They said criminals hid behind it, waiting to pounce on them. It seemed that the tree itself committed a crime, and one day it was sentenced to death by bulldozer. The next time my husband visited it, it was gone. Not a scrap left, not one seedling or branch or leaf. Completely obliterated.
We are so good at destroying things that are of value. Mangroves. Stately old houses. Beaches. Miracle trees. Fellow human beings.
And by the way, our yard is full of a number of trees. Every day I check them for criminals, but in 25 years of living amongst all these highly dangerous trees I have never found one hiding behind one. Our intruders, generally, are more interested in the contents of the trees. There was the famous mango thief episode last year (caught red-handed), and I recall getting up one morning to find a young man standing under our cherry tree, quietly picking and transferring the fruit to his mouth. I yelled at him and he looked confused. The poor boy was mentally challenged.
But all is not lost. I am sure there must be more moringa trees around somewhere. And moringa tea is available in health food stores.
In fact, I just drank a cup. We drink the tea cold once a day, and it tastes a bit like slightly dirty water. I’m just trying it out, to see if A) I can actually lose some weight without the usual enormous struggle; and whether B) I will start bouncing around the room with all those vitamins in my body (after all, I am advancing in years and any extra little bit of energy is more than welcome). Neither of these goals have been achieved yet, but… I keep sipping that ole dirty water, in hopes.
So look out for this tree. It grows pretty tall, and it has pretty, delicate leaves.
My husband, with his usual foresight, saved some seeds from the recently executed tree. They are now growing (about two feet high already) in our yard, their delicate oval leaves shaking in the breeze.
I will let you know, in a few months’ time, whether I truly believe in miracles. You can check it out for yourself, and see whether you do.