The noni plant, also known as “Indian Mulberry” is believed to be one of the original plants brought to the Islands in the canoes of the Polynesians. It was highly prized by the culture for its medicinal uses as well as that for dyeing fiber.
This shrub or small tree stays under about 20 feet tall depending on its growing conditions. In the lowlands, it tends to be much closer to shrub size of just a few feet tall.
Noni plants prefer areas that are wet and will grow up to about 1500 feet above sea level. It tolerates brackish water with salt. It will thrive in just about every type of lowland climate and soil condition. It is even often found growing up through cracks in lava flows as it is not picky about where it grows.
The most popular culinary use for the noni tree fruit is that of its juice. The fruit is edible and was used as a foodstuff during famine but it is the juice that is so sought after today. Many health benefits are thought to come from drinking noni juice including weight loss and energy boosts.
The noni tree has gained a nickname of “The Painkiller Tree” for the analgesic properties found in the juice. A poultice made from mashed ripe fruit was a common remedy for various ailments and skin problems or wounds. It is also touted as an antidepressant, antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral plant. Helping to block the absorption of cholesterol aids in protecting the memory and encouraging heart health.
Noni has an astringent, insecticidal quality which is why it was once used as a hair dressing. People applied it as a bug repellant. Some fans still use it in hair and skin preparations to aid against eczema and ringworm.
All parts of the plant were used in some manner by the ancients. From the roots to the tree tops, nothing was left to waste. The stems were used for canoe building and other construction or tool needs. Noni tree bark and roots were prized for their use as a dye. The bark provided a red pigment while the roots were responsible for a yellow color.
There are many reasons to learn more about this interesting and unusual tree.