Morinda citrifolia

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Morinda citrifolia
Noni fruit (Morinda citrifolia).jpg
Leaves and fruit
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Rubiaceae
Genus: Morinda
Species: M. citrifolia
Binomial name
Morinda citrifolia

Morinda citrifolia is a tree in the coffee family, Rubiaceae. Its native range extends through Southeast Asia and Australasia, and the species is now cultivated throughout the tropics and widely naturalised.[1]

English common names include great morinda,[2] Indian mulberry,[3] noni,[2] beach mulberry, and cheese fruit.[2]

Growing habitats[edit]

M. citrifolia flower

M. citrifolia, also called "noni" grows in shady forests, as well as on open rocky or sandy shores. It reaches maturity in about 18 months, then yields between 4 and 8 kg (8.8 and 17.6 lb) of fruit every month throughout the year. It is tolerant of saline soils, drought conditions, and secondary soils. It is therefore found in a wide variety of habitats: volcanic terrains, lava-strewn coasts, and clearings or limestone outcrops, as well as in coralline atolls.[4] It can grow up to 9 m (30 ft) tall, and has large, simple, dark green, shiny and deeply veined leaves.

The plant bears flowers and fruits all year round. The fruit is a multiple fruit that has a pungent odour when ripening, and is hence also known as cheese fruit or even vomit fruit. It is oval in shape and reaches 10–18 centimetres (3.9–7.1 in) size. At first green, the fruit turns yellow then almost white as it ripens. It contains many seeds. It is sometimes called starvation fruit. Despite its strong smell and bitter taste, the fruit is nevertheless eaten as a famine food[5] and, in some Pacific islands, even a staple food, either raw or cooked.[6] Southeast Asians and Australian Aborigines consume the fruit raw with salt[7] or cook it with curry. The seeds are edible when roasted.

M. citrifolia is especially attractive to weaver ants, which make nests from the leaves of the tree. These ants protect the plant from some plant-parasitic insects. The smell of the fruit also attracts fruit bats, which aid in dispersing the seeds. A type of fruit fly, Drosophila sechellia, feeds exclusively on these fruits.[8]

Nutrients and phytochemicals[edit]

M. citrifolia fruit in Honolulu

M. citrifolia fruit powder contains carbohydrates and dietary fibre in moderate amounts.[9] These macronutrients evidently reside in the fruit pulp, as M. citrifolia juice has sparse nutrient content.[10] The main micronutrients of M. citrifolia pulp powder include vitamin C, niacin (vitamin B3), iron and potassium.[9] Vitamin A, calcium and sodium are present in moderate amounts. When M. citrifolia juice alone is analyzed and compared to pulp powder, only vitamin C is retained[10] in an amount that is about half the content of a raw navel orange.[11] Sodium levels in M. citrifolia juice (about 3% of Dietary Reference Intake, DRI)[9] are high compared to an orange, and potassium content is moderate. The juice is otherwise similar in micronutrient content to a raw orange.[11]

M. citrifolia fruit contains a number of phytochemicals, including lignans, oligo- and polysaccharides, flavonoids, iridoids, fatty acids, scopoletin, catechin, beta-sitosterol, damnacanthal, and alkaloids. Although these substances have been studied for bioactivity, current research is insufficient to conclude anything about their effects on human health.[12][13][14][15][16] These phytochemicals are not unique to M. citrifolia, as they exist in various plants.

Gastronomic uses[edit]

Noni, Morinda citrifolia
Young Noni growing on Oahu, Hawaii

In Thai cuisine, the leaves (known as bai-yo, ใบยอ) are used as a green vegetable and the fruit (luk-yo, ลูกยอ) is added as a salad ingredient to some versions of somtam.

Traditional medicine[edit]

There are modern, unconfirmed, claims that green fruit, leaves, and root/rhizomes might have been used in Polynesian cultures as a general tonic, in addition to its traditional place in Polynesian culture as a famine food.[17]

In traditional Chinese medicine, the roots, known as Ba Ji Tian, have been used for abdominal pain, impotence, and menstrual disorders.[18] Although Morinda is considered to have biological properties in traditional medicine, there is no confirmed evidence of clinical efficacy for any intended use.[19]

Consumer uses[edit]

Morinda bark produces a brownish-purplish dye that may be used for making batik. In Hawaii, yellowish dye is extracted from its roots to dye cloth.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nelson, SC (2006-04-01). "Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry: Morinda citrifolia (noni)". Traditional Tree Initiative. 
  2. ^ a b c Plants by Common Name – James Cook University
  3. ^ "Indian mulberry". Native Voices, US National Library of Medicine. 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  4. ^ Xavier Romero-Frias, The Maldive Islanders, A Study of the Popular Culture of an Ancient Ocean Kingdom, Barcelona 1999, ISBN 84-7254-801-5
  5. ^ Krauss, BH (1993). Plants in Hawaiian Culture. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. [page needed]
  6. ^ Morton, Julia F. (1992). "The ocean-going noni, or Indian Mulberry (Morinda citrifolia, Rubiaceae) and some of its "colorful" relatives". Economic Botany. 46 (3): 241–56. doi:10.1007/BF02866623. 
  7. ^ Cribb, A.B. & Cribb, J.W. (1975) Wild Food in Australia. Sydney: Collins.[page needed]
  8. ^ Jones, C.D. (1998). "The Genetic Basis of Drosophila sechellia‍'s Resistance to a Host Plant Toxin". Genetics. 149 (4): 1899–1908. 
  9. ^ a b c Nelson, Scot C. (2006) "Nutritional Analysis of Hawaiian Noni (Noni Fruit Powder)" The Noni Website. Retrieved 15-06-2009.
  10. ^ a b Nelson, Scot C. (2006) "Nutritional Analysis of Hawaiian Noni (Pure Noni Fruit Juice)" The Noni Website. Retrieved 15-06-2009.
  11. ^ a b World's Healthiest Foods, in-depth nutrient analysis of a raw orange
  12. ^ Saleem, Muhammad; Kim, Hyoung Ja; Ali, Muhammad Shaiq; Lee, Yong Sup (2005). "An update on bioactive plant lignans". Natural Product Reports. 22 (6): 696–716. doi:10.1039/b514045p. PMID 16311631. 
  13. ^ Deng, Shixin; Palu, ‘Afa K.; West, Brett J.; Su, Chen X.; Zhou, Bing-Nan; Jensen, Jarakae C. (2007). "Lipoxygenase Inhibitory Constituents of the Fruits of Noni (Morindacitrifolia) Collected in Tahiti". Journal of Natural Products. 70 (5): 859–62. doi:10.1021/np0605539. PMID 17378609. 
  14. ^ Lin, Chwan Fwu; Ni, Ching Li; Huang, Yu Ling; Sheu, Shuenn Jyi; Chen, Chien Chih (2007). "Lignans and anthraquinones from the fruits ofMorinda citrifolia". Natural Product Research. 21 (13): 1199–204. doi:10.1080/14786410601132451. PMID 17987501. 
  15. ^ Levand, Oscar; Larson, Harold (2009). "Some Chemical Constituents of Morinda citrifolia". Planta Medica. 36 (06): 186–7. doi:10.1055/s-0028-1097264. 
  16. ^ Mohd Zin, Z.; Abdul Hamid, A.; Osman, A.; Saari, N.; Misran, A. (2007). "Isolation and Identification of Antioxidative Compound from Fruit of Mengkudu (Morinda citrifoliaL.)". International Journal of Food Properties. 10 (2): 363–73. doi:10.1080/10942910601052723. 
  17. ^ Wang MY, West BJ, Jensen CJ, Nowicki D, Su C, Palu AK, Anderson G (2002). "Morinda citrifolia (Noni): a literature review and recent advances in Noni research". Pharmacol Sin. 23 (12): 1127–41. PMID 12466051. 
  18. ^ "Ba Ji Tian". WebMD. Retrieved 2014-10-13. 
  19. ^ Potterat O, Hamburger M (2007). "Morinda citrifolia (Noni) fruit--phytochemistry, pharmacology, safety". Planta Med. 73 (3): 191–9. doi:10.1055/s-2007-967115. PMID 17286240. 
  20. ^ Thompson, RH (1971). Naturally Occurring Anthraquinones. New York: Academic Press. [page needed]

Further reading[edit]

  • Elevitch, Craig R.; Nelson, Scot C. (August 2006). Noni: The Complete Guide for Consumers and Growers. Permanent Agriculture Resources. p. 112. ISBN 0-9702544-6-6. 

External links[edit]