Morinda citrifolia – Noni
Other Common Names: Indian Mulberry
Morinda citrifolia is a perennial, evergreen tree that belongs to the coffee family, Rubiaceae. As it is cultivated throughout the tropics and naturalized widely, it has also gained a lot of common names, which include Great Morinda, Cheese Fruit, Beach Mulberry, Indian Mulberry, and Noni.
The Noni tree usually grows on sandy or open rocky shores, as well as in shady forests. It matures in about 18 months and is usually 6 meters or 20 feet tall, though they can also grow up to 9 meters or 30 feet tall. It is low maintenance as it is tolerant of drought conditions, secondary soils, and saline soils, so it can also be found in different types of habitats.
The leaves of the Noni tree are large and simple, yet deeply veined. They are rounded to oblong, shiny and dark green in color and can grow up to 30 centimeters or a foot long. Since it is an evergreen tree, it blooms flowers and bears fruits all throughout the year. In fact, a mature Noni tree can produce 4 to 8 kilograms of fruit monthly, all year round.
The Noni fruit is safe to be eaten, although it has a pungent smell especially when ripening. That is one of the reasons why it is called the cheese fruit, and sometimes even the vomit fruit. While the smell can repel humans, it can attract fruit bats, which also help in scattering the seeds.
A more tolerable way of taking the fruit is to consume it as a beverage, which can be concentrated or in powdered form.