Morinda citrifolia L., Sp. Pl. 176. 1753. DC., Prodr. 4: 466. 1832; Ridley, l.c.; Hook. f., l.c.; Cooke, l.c.; Roxb., l.c.; Bailey, l.c.; Dalz. & Gibb., Bomb. Fl. 114 1861; Brandis, For. Fl. 277. 1874; Gamble, Ind. Timb. 422. 1905; Talbot, l.c.
S. NAZIMUDDIN AND M. QAISER
Shrub or small tree, 3-6 m tall; trunk not branched, smooth. Branches tetragonal, angles not sharp. Leaves 10-20 x 5-9 cm, elliptic, shining green, glabrous, membranous, 5-6 pairs of distinct lateral nerves, margin entire, apex obtuse or acute-acuminate, base attenuate ending in 1-2 cm long petiole, petiole sinuate; stipules 6-9 x 4-7 mm, rounded, oblong or somewhat semi-circular, glabrous, persistent, often 2-lobed. Inflorscence axillary, usually in every alternate pair of leaves, peduncle c. 1 cm long. Head oblong, 1.5-2.5 x 1-1.5 cm, green, enlarged in fruit, lower flowers of the head open first. Calyx-tube cupular, c. 2 mm in diameter, lobes truncate or obscure. Corolla white, tube c. 12 mm long, cylindrical, glabrous, lobes oblong, 5-6 mm long, recurved, throat hairy, pubescent. Stamens yellowish, somewhat exserted. Heads of fruit ovoid, glossy, 4-6 x 3-4 cm, whitish or pale-yellow, pyrenes compressed on one side, winged on edges, c. 8 x 5 mm, with basifixed white hairs specially on edges and wing.
Fl. Per.: Almost throughout the year.
Type: Described from India, Herb. Linn. 236/1 (LINN).
Distribution: Warmer parts of India, Ceylon, Bsangladesh, Malaya, N. Australia and Pacific Islands, cultivated elsewhere. In Pakistan it is cultivated as an ornamental.
Formerly cultivated as a source of dye called al extracted from the root. Tender leaves are reported to be eaten as pot herb; fruits are also eaten. The plant is of medicinal importance; root is cathartic and febrifuge. Leaves are considered tonic and febrifuge, used for healing purposes in wounds and ulcers and for relief of pain in gout. Fruits are used for spongy gums, throat complaints, dysentery, leucorrhoea and sapraemia (autotoxication due to the growth of saprophytes on diseased and injured tissues). The wood is fairly hard and close grained and can be used for turning and making toys and plates.