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The Traditional Domestication of a Multipurpose Tree Moringa stenopetala (Bak.f.) Cuf. in the Ethiopian Rift Valley

Samia Al Azharia Jahn
Ambio
Vol. 20, No. 6 (Sep., 1991), pp. 244-247
Published by: Springer on behalf of Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4313833
Page Count: 4
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The Traditional Domestication of a Multipurpose Tree Moringa stenopetala (Bak.f.) Cuf. in the Ethiopian Rift Valley
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Abstract

Moringa stenopetala, is a multipurpose tree, native to the East African lowlands, that has been shown to be an even more promising coagulant crop for water clarification in the tropics than the "pantropical" horseradish tree Moringa oleifera. In Southern Ethiopia paleonigritic terrace builders introduced the species as a "cabbage tree" in their gardens and fields at altitudes up to 2000 m, whereby different ecotypes and new cultivars developed. During dissemination to the plains on the floor of the Rift Valley and other highlands up to Wolamo this leafy vegetable became popular among other ethnic groups, and new medicinal uses were detected. Traditional selection aimed to improve the taste of the leaves but also had a positive impact on seed size, as comparative studies of the cotyledon (white seed kernels) weights demonstrated. In the Konso highlands high yields of leaves and fruits, in spite of the marginal rainfall, are due to remarkable agricultural practices and acceptance of environmental limitations. The need for detailed chemical and pharmacological assessments of Moringa stenopetala and reasons for initial difficulties with local dissemination projects are discussed.

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