It grows in shady forests as well as on open rocky or sandy shores. It is tolerant of saline soils, drought conditions, and secondary soils. It therefore found in a wide variety of habitats: volcanic terrains, lava-strewn coasts, and clearings or limestone outcrops. It can grow up to 9 m tall, and has large, simple, dark green, shiny and deeply veined leaves.
The plant flowers and fruits all year round. The flowers are small and white. The fruit is a multiple fruit that has a pungent odor when ripening, and is hence also known as cheese fruit or even vomit fruit. It is oval and reaches 4-7 cm in size. At first green, the fruit turns yellow then almost white as it ripens. It contains many seeds. Despite its smell, the fruit is nevertheless eaten as a famine food and, in some Pacific islands, even a staple food, either raw or cooked. Southeast Asians and Australian Aborigines consume the fruit raw with salt or cook it with curry. Seeds are edible when roasted.
The Noni is especially attractive to weaver ants, which make nests out of 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.
In China, Japan and even Hawaii, various parts of the tree (leaves, flowers, fruits, bark) serve as tonics and to contain fever, to treat eye and skin problems, gum and throat problems as well as constipation, stomach pain, or respiratory difficulties. In Malaysia, heated noni leaves applied to the chest are believed to relieve coughs, nausea or colic. In the Philippines, juice is extracted from the leaves as a treatment for arthritis.
The noni fruit is taken, in Indochina especially, for asthma, lumbago and dysentery. As for external
The bark of the great morinda produces a brownish-purplish dye for batik making; on the Indonesian island of Java, the trees are cultivated for this purpose. In Hawaii, yellowish dye is extracted from its root in order to dye cloth. In Surinam and different other countries, the tree serves as a wind-break, as support for vines and as shade trees for coffee bushes. The fruit is used as a shampoo in Malaysia, where it is said to be helpful against head lice. Nonis can be fed to pig livestock.
Other useful herb information: Bupleurum | Parsley | Maca | Sarsaparilla | Propolis | Glucomannan | Witch Hazel
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