Malunggay tree in the garden

Two months ago, we planted two sturdy branches of malunggay in the garden. They were cuttings from a mature tree owned by an aunt of one of the house helpers. It took a while but it looks like we’re finally going to have a steady supply of malunggay. Moringa oleifera Lamk

I can almost taste it… clams and malunggay soup, fresh malunggay tea… And since the malunggay fruit is edible, I just might get creative with them too.

It’s not about riding with current malunggay craze. No singular food item, whether a vegetable or herb, is a cure-all as some claim. That’s preposterous. It’s about being a voracious malunggay eater for as long as I can remember. And it’s about the inexplicably satisfying feeling one gets when harvesting herbs and vegetables from one’s own garden. We have three varieties of basil, cilantro, mint, peppers, pandan, a small lemon tree and a small kaffir lime tree. The oregano died after replanting, the lemongrass got left behind in the old house, and I intend to replace both.

And I’m planning on adding more. I have the seeds for chives, bok choy and Chinese kangkong (water spinach). Dill and parsley, both of which we had in the old house, are next on the list.


  1. joelpascual says

    hi maam, looking for a nice malunggay tree we can shoot for a book cover, any great ideas where to find them? any inputs would be appreciated. thanks in advance

  2. says

    Sorry about the demise of your malunggay tree. I hope you’ll able to grow one again. We grow ours here in Imus, Cavite and so far the trees are enjoying the soil (not as good as the volcanic soil in Silang/Tagaytay, but pwede na rin) and the moisture.

    I can’t imagine our backyard without malunggay trees. They were helpful when I breast-fed my girls. Until now many of our soup dishes have malunggay in them, and I’m thankful that our kids have learned to like this leafy vegetable (?).

    I agree with what loy said about malunggay being a ‘poor man’s vegetable’ though I can’t quite imagine distributing malunggay seedlings to every household, as many families live in cramped houses with limited space [even] for container gardening. Might be better to require communities/barangays to plant malunggay trees in their communal gardens. Free-to-share malunggay!

  3. Ysabel says

    Oh thats really nice! I love malunggay too, but no space for a tree. We started our own vegetable garden too, ampalaya, talong, okra, kamatis and sitaw…yes, the makings of pinakbet or dinengdeng. Hubby is from the northern part of the country hence the choice of seedlings hahaha. I have a few herbs as well, basil and chives. It really is satisfying pala to plant your own veggies. Thing is, hubby now is craving native chicken and wants to put up a chicken coop in our backyard! Ah, i think i would draw the line there…fresh eggs are lovely but a couple of dozen cackling chickens?

  4. says

    WE used to have a pair of bantam chickens and we had 1 or 2 eggs everyday. A pair was okay but 1 to 2 eggs a day was hardly enough. But more chickens and the backyard would have started smelling of poop. Nice experience though. Knowing it can be done.

  5. says

    Hello! Malunggay is on top of my list of fave greens. Whenever I get a hold of a bunch, I add it to fish stews (GG with malunggay and ginger, tomatoes and scallions, heavenly!!), crab or shrimp fritters, Bicol express and even snails with coconut cream and chili peppers! I usually make do with the frozen ones in the produce aisle but recently became friendly with a neighbor who planted a row a decorative hedge in his backyard. Of course, I volunteered to trim it occasionally. Wicked.

    I posted my version of the Bicol Express ( that I prepared during a visit with cousins in Oahu two summers ago. Try it, you may like it!! Enjoy. BTW, I love your cookbook and I plan to purchase some to give away for the holidays. You continue to amaze me with your energy and fascination with great Pinoy home cooking (with a wonderful twist, like a hybrid of Ina Garten and Paula Deen, if you allow the references!!). Keep the good stuff coming. House On A Hill and Market Manila, it’s part of my daily breakfast must-read! Love your site to bits. Sorry for gushing. I am just a fan, what can I say and do?

  6. says

    Hi Sam,

    Thank you so much. I… I… what can I say too? LOL Except that I try to come up with even better things. I have so many plans. Especially for the holidays. And I’m working on them already. :)

  7. takesaku says

    this may sound gross, but being a bikolano, we put coconut milk to just about anything, including malunggay! my favourite malunggay dish is called ‘kinunot’, with shark meat as “pansahog”. yum! lol. i miss malunggay and all other veggies we have in the philippines.

  8. says

    takesaku, not gross at all. enjoy your guilty pleasure, because the use of coconut cream in just about everything makes for a distinct regional cuisine. i remember kinunot, and love to eat it with malunggay and lots of chili peppers! :)

  9. says

    We’re such fans of coconut and we don’t mind adding coco cream to any dish either hehehe We like adobong sa gata, veggies with gata, even soup with gata. And I really, really like the idea of ginataang malunggay. Soon, soon. :)

  10. omski says

    Malunggay is on my “to plant” list when we get to move in to a more spacious location with a space to do home gardening ..just need to trim the tree often as they grow very fast…will include , chili (for tinola leaves, malunggay is good too) , kamias tree for “fish sinaing” , ampalaya for monggo and bunch of other plants that we can use for food like what you have, I enjoy having backyard produce…it gives some form of satisfaction, harvesting your own..cheers!

  11. says

    Ampalaya is a vine, right? It has to grow on a balag? Balag is trellis? WE have a trellis in the lanai and I wanted to plant upo but we finally decided no veggies in the lanai — we’re planting sampaguita instead.

  12. omski says

    ha! ha! ampalaya won’t look good in your trellis (in the lanai) as well as upo and I agree no veggies there, it will wreak the ambience ;-) i see nice creeping flowering plants every now and then suited for that purpose, but I haven’t seen sampaguita yet…does not usually “hold on” to the trellis …there are yellow bells and a kind of creeping boganvilla (what ever the spelling is!) with nice flowers…

  13. says

    By golly, I am sick and tired of eating malunggay…hehe… Well, malunggay could be the solution to the chronic malnutrition problem in the Philippines. If the government can distribute malunggay seedlings to every household then malnutrition will be greatly minimized.

    I sometimes call it “the poor man’s vegetable” everytime I see it served on the table. And I also call papaya “the poor man’s fruit.” Both don’t require much attention. Just plant them anywhere in your backyard, sit back, relax and voila! instant food!

  14. meh says

    i disagree, edible plants can be ornamental, too! in japan, people plant ampalaya in their tiny apartments… i saw it everywhere…. the delicate leaves and bright yellow flowers were very pretty, imo ^_^

  15. jadedfork says

    Malunggay stalks were a favorite of mine when i was a kid bec they was so fun to eat, scraping them between my teeth like an artichoke leaf. i wish i could get them here.

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