The Shifara tree,in Amharic (Moringa stenopetala), which also has other names as Haleko, Ben-oil tree, Cabbage tree, Horse-radish tree, African Moringa Tree, Malung-gay, Murunga-Kai, and Sohnja is originally from India and Arabia but the variety Stenopetala is native of Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan. It prefers low altitudes and wet and sandy soils, but it can tolerate drought. It can reach a height of 30 ft, its leaves have a pale color and the bark is gray. The flowers are light yellow and attract many insects like bees.
The fruit and the leaves are used as food and medicine; and all its parts are edible for humans and animals except the wood. The tree itself helps to protect the soil from erosion, it’s used as shade, wind breaker and as a living fence.
Seeds and roots are used as spice and fiber.
The oil extracted from the seeds is called “Ben Oil ” and is used to lubricate precision machinery, for salads, soap and cosmetics.
Even when its cultivated near homes and plantations, in its wild form is nearly extinct since its natural habitat is rapidly disappearing.