In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Characters of Moringaceae 2. Distribution of Moringaceae 3. Economic Importance 4. Affinities.
Characters of Moringaceae:
Deciduous trees with fragile wood and gummy bark, alternate decompound leaves with opposite pinnae; pentamerous zygomorphic flowers with 5 stamens and 3-5 alternating staminodes borne on a short hypanthium and the long 3-valved fruit with often winged seeds.
A. Vegetative characters:
Trees, deciduous with gummy bark.
Tap, branched and deep.
Erect, branched, woody, wood fragile.
Doubly or triply pinnate compound with opposite pinnae, alternate, stipules are reduced to glands or absent, pulvinus of petioles distinct.
B. Floral characters:
Hairy axillary cymose panicles.
Hermaphrodite, medianly zygomorphic or actinomorphic, perigynous more or less, complete, pedicellate, bracteate.
Sepals 5, imbricate, polysepalous, reflexed or spreading, inserted on the margin of cupular receptacle – hypanthium, the 5th sepal posterior.
Petal 5 polypetalous, inserted on hypanthium rim, the 2 posterior ones smaller and reflexed with two, erect laterals ascending and the anterior one larger, imbricate, disc lining the hypanthium is present.
Stamens 5 fertile declinate, (i.e. bent downwards and forwards) polyandrous, filaments unequal in length, inserted on the margin of the disc, staminodes 3-5, alternating with fertile stamens, anthers in the fertile stamen monothecal; dehiscing by longitudinal slits.
Carpels 3, united in an unilocular superior stipitate usually curved and hairy unilocular ovary, style one, long, curved terminating into flat or truncate or club shaped stigma. Ovules many, biseriate anatropous on parietal placentation.
3-valved, 3-6 angled long capsule.
Seeds winged or not, endospermic, cotyledons oily.
Distribution of Moringaceae:
It is commonly called Moringa family. It includes single genus Moringa by Pax (1936) and Puri (1942) with 10 species, distributed in Tropics of the Old World. It is called Horse raddish and in Hindi Sajina. It is cultivated in all parts of Bengal, Rajasthan etc. for fruits and flowers, which are used as vegetables.
Economic Importance of Moringaceae:
The fruits and flowers of Moringa oleifera are used as vegetables. Its roots are a source of an edible condiment.
The oil obtained from seeds of Moringa is nondrying and used in lubrication of fine machinery.
Affinities of Moringaceae:
The systematic position of this family is controversial. Many taxonomists – Bessey, Wettstein and Core included it in Rhoeadales, being allied to Capparidaceae. The true systematic position as it appears should be under Parietals.
The family Moringaceae in the zygomorphy of flowers, perigyny and parietal placentation appears to be allied to Violaceae and Tovariaceae so its consequent taxonomic position is to be under Parietales, rather than Rhoeadales.
The stipitate ovary (gynophore?) and perigyny form a connecting link with Rhoeadales and Rosales. According to Puri (1942) the hypanthium is partly receptacular and partly appendicular – the basal and posterior parts are receptacular, the rim and anterior portion represent the basal parts of calyx.
According to Erdtman, the pollen grains similar to those of Moringa occur in several families, such as Capparidaceae and Resedaceae but certainly there is no relationship with the latter family (i.e., Resedaceae).
Moringa oleifera – Horse – radish or Sajina in Hindi.