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Morinda lucida Benth – Description | Constituents & Medicinal uses


Morinda lucida Benth uses vary in different regions of the west African. However, there is a consensus with its use in folklore medicine to treat various illnesses such as fever, Malaria, Diabetes, Diarrhea and so many others.

Morinda lucida Benth

Aside from the medicinal uses of this plant, there are also other traditional  uses such as dye making and other rituals such as in birth ceremony of twins.

Morinda lucida Benth – Description

Morinda lucida Benth is a shrub or a small to medium-sized tree  found in tropical forests of Western Africa such as Ivory coast and Nigeria. It measures  8 – 18 m high and approximately 20 – 30 cm in diameter. The branches are short, crooked or slender with dense leaves.

However, the Leaves are opposite, simple and entire; stipules ovate or triangular, 1–7 mm long, falling early; petiole up to 1.5 cm long; blade elliptical, 6–18 cm × 2–9 cm, base rounded to cuneate, apex acute to acuminate, shiny above, sometimes finely pubescent when young, later only tufts of hairs in vein axils beneath and some hairs on the midrib.

Botanical name

Morinda lucida Benth

Common name

Brimstone tree, Morinda, Indian Mullbery, Hog tree apple.



Local names

Sangogo or Bondoukou alongua (in Cote d’Ivoire)

Konkroma or Ewe amake (in Ghana)

Ewe amake or Atak ake (in Togo)

Oruwo or Ruwo ( Yoruba, South-west Nigeria)

Eze-ogu (Igbo ,South-east Nigeria )

Zogale (Hausa, Northern Nigeria )

Scientific Classification

Phylum      Tracheophyta

Class        Magnoliopsida

Order        Gentianales

Family       Rubiaceae

Genus       Morinda

Specie       lucida 

Chemical constituents

A resesrch by Adeyemi et al., 2004 at Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN) revealed that Morinda lucida Benth contains alkaloid (2.166%), tannin (1.087%), anthraquinone (2.008%) and steroids (1.004%).

Nevertheless, another work from Chemistry department, Covenant University, Nigeria (Okeniyi et al.,2015) suggests that Morinda lucida Benth contains terpenoids and flavonoids in addition.

Morinda lucida Benth Medicinal uses

The presence of alkaloids, tannins, anthraquinones and flavonoids as secondary metabolites of Morinda lucida Benth is responsible for the so many ethnobotanical uses of the plant. Some of theses uses are listed below;

Antioxidant activity

Morinda is a major source of Vitamins A and E; which are two powerful antioxidants. Therefore, it is used to scavenge free radicals, anti-allergic, anti- inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-proliferative and anti-carcinogenic properties.

Antidiabetic activity

Odutuga et al., 2010, in their work showed that administering M. lucida aqeuos and Methanolic extract to Alloxan-induced albino rats for 7 days has a significant reduction in fasting blood glucose by 73.5 and 39.0% of their initial values, respectively.

Fever and malaria

The Southern part of Nigeria use the decoction of M. lucida ( Ruwo ) and Azadirachta indica ( dogo yaro ) to treat fever and malaria. A research by Burkill, 1997 supports this ethnobotanical use of the plant.

Antibacterial activity

According to research by (Ogundare and Onifade, 2009 ) Morinda lucida Benth at 25mg/ml inhibited an established growth of E.coli with zone of inhibition of zone of 5mm.

Also, work by Adoni, 2006 showed that Astonia boonei with M. lucida has a wider bacteria activity against both gram negative and gram positive organisms including Salmonella typhi that causes thyphoid fever.

Fakoya et al., also compared the aqeous and methanolic extracts of M. Lucida with Chloramphenicol and Ciprofloxacin. The result shows that M. Lucida has a better activity over these conventional antibiotics.

Antifungal activity

In DR Congo,the decoction of the stem bark or leaf is combined with a dressing of powdered root bark against itch and ringworm (Abbiw, 1990). To support this folklore, in 1995, Ruth et al.,investigated the activity of M. lucida on strains of Aspergillus fumigatus and Trichophyton mentagrophytes which shows an activity.


The fruit and leaf extract of M. Lucida reduced the feacal spot of Albino wistar rat at doses of 20mg/kg, 40mg/kg and 60mg/kg ( Adejo et al., 2015).

This supports the ethnomedicinal use according to Igoli, et al., (2005), twice or thrice daily use of decoctions from M. lucida by Igede People in Benue State, Nigeria, was reported to have anti – diarrheal effect, while the leaves are used for treatment of infertility in women.

As chewing sticks for oral hygiene

The roots and Stem of M. lucida has a bitter taste and is used by so many Nigerians as a chewing stick. In addition, the M. lucida is good for oral hygiene because of its antimicrobial activities.

As a dye for clothes

In Nigeria and Gabon the root bark is used to dye textiles into scarlet red. On occasions of national grief or the death of a chief, the Ashanti people of Ghana dye cotton cloths red with the root bark of Morinda lucida. These cloths, called ‘kobene’, are worn as mourning dress by official people and by the family of the deceased.

To improve lactation

The very bitter leaf decoction is applied to the breast of women at weaning of their infants to improve lactation.

See also, Medicinal uses of

  • Cajanus cajan (pigeon peas)
  • Coula edulis ( African walnut)


  1. Zimudzi, C. & Cardon, D., 2005. Morinda lucida Benth. In: Jansen, P.C.M. & Cardon, D. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. Accessed 5 February 2019.Source; [PROTA]
  2. Okeniyi J.O et al.(2015) Biochemical characterisation of the leave of Morinda lucida. Source; [Convenant University]
  3. OO Adeleye, OJ Ayeni and MA Ajamu. Traditional and medicinal uses of Morinda lucida. 2018; 6(2): 249-254.Source; [Plants journal]
  4. A.A. Odutuga, J.O. Dairo, J.B. Minari and F.A. Bamisaye, 2010. Anti-Diabetic Effect of Morinda lucida Stem Bark Extracts on Alloxan-Induced Diabetic Rats. Research Journal of Pharmacology, 4: 78-82.
  5. A. O. Ogundare* and A. K. Onifade (2009).The antimicrobial activity of Morinda lucida leaf extract on Escherichia coli.web.Source; [Academic journals]
  6. Adomi, Patience. (2006). Antibacterial activity of aqueous and ethanol extracts of the stem bark of Alstonia boonei and Morinda lucida. Scientific Research and Essay. 1. 50-53. Source; [ Researchgate]
  7. Rath, Guido & Ndonzao, Menavanza & Hostettmann, Kurt. (2008). Antifungal anthraquinones from Morinda lucida. International Journal of Pharmacognosy. 33. 107-114. 10.3109/13880209509055208. Source; [Researchgate]
  8. Ndukwe KC, Okeke IN, Lamikanra A, Adesina SK, Aboderin O (2005).Antibacterial activity of aqueous extracts of selected chewing sticks. Source;[PUBMED]
  9. A. B. Nwauzoma and Magdalene S. Dappa. (2013).Ethnobotanical Studies of Port Harcourt Metropolis, Nigeria. Source;[Hindawi]
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