What is Noni?

Noni (pronounced “no-nee”) is a fruit produced by a tropical flowering tree. Noni, also known by its scientific name, Morinda citrifolia, has been used for medical purposes for hundreds of years. Until recently, its pungent taste and smell have kept it hidden from much of the modern world. 

Traditional Noni Uses

Traditionally, noni was used for a wide variety of medical conditions as well as in daily life.

Growing, Harvesting, Manufacturing and Processing Noni

Morinda Citrifolia Species

Noni, or Morinda citrifolia, is a tree in the coffee family, Rubiaceae. It is located throughout Southeast Asia and is found as far south as Australia. There are more than 100 different names for the noni fruit worldwide. The most common English names include noni, great morinda, beach mulberry, Indian mulberry and cheese fruit.

Growing Conditions

Noni grows in shady forests but can also occupy areas along open rocky or sandy shorelines. It takes approximately 18 months for the tree to reach maturity. Once mature, the tree yields between 8-½ and 17-½ pounds of fruit per month throughout the entire year. The tree is tolerant of drought conditions, saline soils and even secondary soils. This allows it to grow in a variety of habitats, including limestone outcrops, volcanic terrains, coralline atolls and even lava-strewn coasts. It grows up to 30 feet tall with large, dark green, shiny leaves that highlight deep veins.

The noni fruit is 3.9 to 7.1 inches in size and starts green, turning yellow to almost white as it ripens. It contains many seeds. The fruit is very pungent in smell and is commonly called “cheese fruit.”

The plant attracts weaver ants, which make nests in the leaves helping to protect the tree from several types of parasitic insects. The smell of the fruit attracts fruit bats, which help disperse the seeds and spread the plant. One type of fruit fly, Drosophila sechellia, eats only noni.

Noni plants have both male and female organs within the flower. Plants can begin bearing fruit between nine months to one-year of age, but they are generally rather small and few at this stage. Some farmers elect to wait until the second year to harvest the fruit, preferring to prune the branches during their adolescence. Noni fruit can be harvested at any stage of development, but most noni juice is processed from fruit at the hard white stage of development.

Traditionally, noni is harvested year-round, usually two to three times each month. Commercial noni farms can grow approximately 290 plants per acre. Noni fruits are hand-picked from the branches. They do not bruise or damage easily, nor do they require refrigeration after harvest, which makes them easy to transport to processing facilities.

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