Horseradish Tree

Horseradish Tree, also oil of ben tree, common name for a deciduous tree (one that loses all of its foliage each year) native to India that is naturalized in other tropical and subtropical regions, including southern California, southern Florida, and the West Indies. It is named for its roots, which smell and taste like horseradish and can be chopped for use as a vegetable or relish. The tree`s attractive foliage and flower clusters make it a popular ornamental, particularly since it is easily grown in a variety of soil types. It is propagated from seeds or cuttings.

The horseradish tree attains heights of

The horseradish tree attains heights of 6 to 9 m (20 to 30 ft). The lacy "compound" leaves (leaves made up of several leaflets along a stem) are up to 60 cm (24 in) long, with numerous leaflets about 1.5 cm (about 0.6 in) long. The upper surface of the leaves is a dark green, the lower surface is a pale green. The fragrant, cream-colored flowers are 2.5 cm (1 in) across and develop in loosely branched clusters, called panicles, that grow from the point at which the leaf joins the stem. Each flower has five "sepals" (petal-like flower coverings) and five petals, with one petal erect and larger than the others. The fruit is a slender, podlike capsule up to 45 cm (18 in) long. It contains triangular, three-winged black seeds that depend on the wind for dispersal.

In addition to the roots

In addition to the roots, other parts of the plant are edible. The seed pods are known as susumber, or drumsticks, and are cut up and boiled like beans. In some places the leaves are used as cattle fodder. The bark of the horseradish tree yields a gum that can be used in printing fabrics. Its seeds yield an edible oil, called oil of ben, that is used as a lubricant, a salad oil, and by perfumers to extract fragrances from various plants.

"`Scientific classification:"` The horseradish

"`Scientific classification:"` The horseradish tree belongs to the moringa family, Moringaceae. It is classified as "Moringa pterygosperma."

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