This tropical tree is said to be part of the coffee tree family and is native to the Southeast Asia and Australia. However it is widely cultivated now and usually found in many tropical regions. The fruit is also popularly known by many names such as cheese fruit, noni and Indian mulberry
This small but very useful fruit is known to have a strong smell but is widely consumed in the local regions they grow in. Some cultures actually consider it a staple food while in others they are used when cultivation is difficult and the weather is bad. The best tasting noni fruit in Australia is also used in many forms of traditional medicine as well.
As a food
The fruit is very popular nowadays that many types of products such as juices, oils and powders are manufactured and sold in different markets world over. There are even cosmetic products that are made from the fruit and its seeds.
The fruit is known as a famine food in the Southeast Asian region and Austrasia and some cultures even eat it raw while some consume it after preparing it as a curry. In Thailand the leaves of this fruit tree are popularly used as the main ingredient in a curry. So if you are in the region and are looking where to buy noni juice or other foods items, don’t forget to ask the locals first.
Where it grows
This fruit tree is considered very versatile as it can grow in shady forests and open rocky landscapes as well. Some have been found to grow well in sandy soil as well. It is also a year round plant so you can harvest the fruits throughout the year, no wonder it is called famine food. It is also a strong and resilient plant which can withstand drought and some adverse weather conditions. It is this versatility that is making it very popular among the locals.
The morinda plant is considered home by several types of insects and the most popular is the weaver ants that use the leaves to make their nests. And in turn for providing them refuge the ants protect the plant from other plant easting parasites and pests.
In some Polynesian cultures the fruit and its leaves have been used for centuries for various illnesses. In Chinese medicine too you find traces of the fruit being used for stomach issues and impotence. Although they are used in these cultures, the actual benefits are yet to be scientifically studies to be confirmed.
Overall it seems the fruit and the plant is very versatile and with more research much more benefits can be gained by it.