Morinda trees (Morinda citrifolia L.) are known by a bevy of names depending on the area within which they are grown. Often commercially grown for their wide variety of uses, morinda trees are native to Southeast Asia and Australia, but are tolerant to a vast array of conditions, including different types of soils and climates. Identify the versatility of this tree and particular growth requirements to determine potential for home garden growth.
Morindas are perennial plants considered large shrubs or small trees, growing to a height of 20 feet at maturity, according to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Morinda trees are evergreen trees that display white-lobed flowers, glossy green foliage, and yellow to white fruit that emits an unpleasant odor when ripe. When identifying morindas in comparison to other species that may appear quite similar, look for their yellow-hued bark, according to the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Grow morinda trees in full sun exposure to partial shade that reaches 80 percent, according to the University of Hawaii at Manoa. This versatile plant prefers well-drained soil with either an acid or alkaline pH with a minimum of 5.5 but can survive in wet sites, drought, wind and salt spray. Keep in temperatures above 36 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid injury. With optimal care, morinda trees exhibit moderate growth rates of up to 5 feet annually.
Morinda trees are known by a wide variety of monikers. The scientific name breaks down into "morus" meaning mulberry and "indicus" meaning Indian. Commonly referred to as Indian mulberry, this plant was so named for its fruits' similarity to the fruit of true mulberry plants; additionally, "citrifolia" refers to its likeness to certain citrus plants, according to the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Morinda is widely referred to as the noni tree and known for the production of noni juice, but different geographical locations know it by different names. Morindas are called canary woods in Australia, kura in Fiji, noni in Hawaii, Indian mulberry in English-speaking regions, and jada in Guam.
Morinda trees are susceptible to disease and pests. Pests include aphids, weevils, leaf miners and other problematic insects that infest due to excessive fertilizer use. Insects that parasitically feed on plant tissue fluids may leave morinda trees open to fungal infection called sooty mold that forms where a sugary liquid substance called honeydew is present; honeydew develops on feeding sites of insects like aphids. Additionally, fungal infections like leaf spot or fruit blight occurs on morinda trees in excessively wet sites where fungi proliferate, according to the University of Hawaii at Manoa. If planting in the home garden, contact your local extension agent for prevalent insects and diseases in your region and to determine a control plan.
Morinda trees have many uses from crafts to food. Morinda wood is often used for canoe construction and for tools and is well-suited for use as firewood. In Africa, leaf teas created from the morinda tree treat malaria. More modern medicinal uses include, but are not limited to, treating ADD, allergies, diabetes, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure and sinus problems. The dye of the morinda tree's bark creates a red dye and its roots create a yellow dye often applied to fabrics. Morinda trees also provide repellent properties both as a literal insect repellent created from oil extracts as well as a spiritual repellent believed to deter ghosts due to the unpleasant scent, according to the University of Hawaii at Manoa.