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Gupta, N - Noni tree

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 6 months ago
Noni Tree
Morinda Citrifolia
aka: indian mulberry, cheesefruit, tokoonja, canary wood and great morinda
 
            Why I Chose This Plant
I chose to do the noni tree, or Morinda Citrifolia, after a visit to Hawaii sparked my interest in plants. I heard the noni mentioned a few times, mostly in reference to its numerous medicinal properties.The plant is high in vitamin C and every part of the plant is said to have some medicinal property; the stem for example has traditionally been used to treat hypertension and jaundice, while other parts of the fruit are said to heal wounds, treat high blood pressure, headaches, heart disease and so forth (Nelson 2006). Scientific evidence is limited (there is much “anecdotal” evidence though), but the noni has also been proposed as a solution to diabetes, AIDS, and even cancer!
 

The oval leaf, large-fruited version of Morinda citrifolia var. citrifolia

           
Which One?
 The noni is part of the Rubiacae family.. There are three variations found within this species, and the one I have chosen to focus on is Morinda citrifolia var. citrifolia. Within this variety there are also two main types: a version with oval leaves and large fruits,commonly found in Hawaii, and one with elongated leaves and small fruits, commonly found in Micronesia (Pacific islands consisting of Marshall Islands, Guam, Pohnpei, and other islands) (Nelson 2006).  The native habitat of the noni is mainly in the Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forest biome, although it is also native to northern Australia, which is in the Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forest biome.
 
The elongated leaf, small-fruited version. Fruits are generally the size of large berries. Photo by S. Nelson
           
What Kind of Plant Are We Talking About?
 The noni is perennial, usually growing as small trees or bushes, usually between 3-12 meters high. It reproduces asexually, and fruit bats typically spread its seeds. As the fruit gets riper the smell gets more odorous, to attract the bats. The noni generally lives about 40-50 years, and flowers/fruits throughout the year. It reproduces about five times a year, on average.
 
Grows in Paradise
This plant is pantropical, and generally grows between latitudes of 19 degrees north and south. It is native to Indonesia (SE Asia) and northern Australia, but is now found on many Pacific Islands. This includes Eastern Polynesia (Hawaii, Pitcairn, Cook Islands, etc), Melanesia (Fiji, New Guinea, etc), and Western Polynesia. It has also become naturalized on the shores of Central and South America, parts of Africa and on many islands of the West Indies (including the Bahamas, Bermuda and Florida Keys).
 
 
 
Where is it Found?
 The noni has a variety of habitats. It grows close to shorelines, or as an understory bush in rainforests and forests, in tide pools and also in low elevation lava flows. The noni is usually one of the first plants that colonize lava flows and can also grow in harsh waste. Noni has a wide range of tolerances. It can live in infertile, acidic or alkaline soils; live in very wet to relatively dry areas; and can also tolerate exposure to wind, fire, flooding and high saline concentrations.The noni is difficult to kill, as illustrated by its tolerance. Although the plant is not considered invasive anywhere, it is treated as a weed in some places.

 
Part II
Habitat of Morinda Citrifolia
 
            The noni, or Morinda Citrifolia, has had important uses throughout human history as dyes, drinks, and medicinal aids. It was used for things such as stomach ulcers, sprains, sore throats, jaundice, and malaria, to name a few. Noni grows in tropical climates by shorelines or as an understory bush in tropical forests, most notably in island forests.
The noni is found at pantropical latitudes, between 19 degrees north and south of the equator. It generally grows between elevations of 1-800m (3.3-2600ft), and enjoys a mean annual rainfall of about 250-4000mm (10-160 in) as well as a mean annual temperature of about 20-35 degrees Celsius (68-95 degrees Fahrenheit). The noni is a very tolerant plant. It tolerates wind and salt sprays as well as lives in brackish water, lava rock and drought conditions. It is also one of the first plants to regenerate after a fire (Nelson 2006). The forests where the noni is found are in the Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forest biome as well as the Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forest biome. Noni grows mainly in Oceania (south Pacific Islands), but is also found in parts of the Afrotropics and Australasia ecozones.
The Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forest biome is characterized by a warm annual climate and heavy annual rainfall and is found between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Often referred to as rainforests, it has the highest number of species diversity found in any terrestrial habitat. The Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forest biome is also found within the same latitudes, has a similar climate and receives heavy rainfall, but it also has a seasonal dry-period that can last for several months. The trees drop their leaves during this season, and many species have adapted to the hard climate. Because of the dry season, this type of biome is often referred to as dry forests. Both of these forests are dominated by deciduous trees, which number in the thousands and can grow very large and very quickly. The noni grows in both of these forests and is able to tolerate a wide range of water availability (WWF 2006).
Because the noni is so tolerant, the plant is not very threatened. In fact, the noni is treated as a weed in some parts of the world because of how resilient it is. But the habitat in which it lives has become very threatened, and conservation of the forests has become a large issue. Especially island forests because of their isolation.
Some threats include military occupation, nuclear weapons testing and phosphate mining, which have disturbed the forests and islands on which they occurred. Introduced species also have an effect on the native or existing species. Islands are especially vulnerable to alien species. Introduced or alien weeds and predators are a significant threat to island forests. Introduced weeds outcompete the natural vegetation and alien predators typically prey upon native animal species.
Other threats include deforestation,which is occurring on a large scale throughout island forests. Land is cleared for agriculture and grazing lands. Plantations that grow tropical crops such as coconut, taro, sugarcane, or other crops for export have replaced vegetation throughout the land. Trees are cut for commercial logging purposes. Vegetation is burned to clear land, and as part of slash and burn agriculture, which has led to soil and land erosion. There are also activities that happen on a smaller global scale: power lines and roads being run through forests or human recreation activities such as hiking. This has all contributed to some lowland forests being completely eliminated and the fragmentation of larger forests on islands.
In order to remedy these threats, or conserve what it still around, large scale actions should be taken. Some actions to consider are to limit heavy logging and forest clearing and declare forests protected. The introduction of alien species in forests should be penalized and alien species that have already been introduced should be monitored or controlled if possible. More research needs to be conducted in order to restore what has already been destroyed. While these changes may take a long time to happen across the globe, small changes are being made now to nature preserves and areas that have been declared protected to protect the wildlife and vegetation of an area.

Bibliography of References

 

Nelson, S. 2006. Morinda Citrifolia (noni). Species Profile for Pacific Island Forestry [Internet]. [cited 2008 Mar 5]. Available from: http://www.agroforestry.net/tti/Morinda-noni.pdf

 

Nelson, S. Botany [Internet]. [updated 2006 Dec 7]. Manoa (HI): University of Hawaii:College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources; [cited 2008 Mar 5]. Available from:http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/noni/botany.asp

 

Nelson, S. Natural Habitat [Internet]. [updated 2006 Dec 7]. Manoa (HI): University of Hawaii:College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources; [cited 2008 Mar 5]. Available from: http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/noni/natural_habitats.asp

 

Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forest Ecoregions [Internet]. [updated 2006 Jul 11]. World Wildlife Fund; [cited 2008 Mar 5]. Available from: http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/where_we_work/ecoregions/about/habitat_types/selecting_terrestrial_ecoregions/habitat02.cfm

 

Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forest Ecoregions [Internet]. [updated 2006 Jul 11]. World Wildlife Fund; [cited 2008 Mar 5]. Available from: http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/where_we_work/ecoregions/about/habitat_types/selecting_terrestrial_ecoregions/habitat01.cfm

 

List of Ecoregions [Internet]. [updated 2008 Feb 21]. World Wildlife Fund; [cited 2008 Mar 5]. Available from: http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/where_we_work/ecoregions/ecoregion_list/index.cfm

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