Morinda lucida Benth – Description | Constituents & Medicinal uses

Morinda Lucida Bent’s uses vary in different regions of West Africa. However, there is a consensus about its use in folklore medicine to treat various illnesses such as fever, Malaria, Diabetes, Diarrhea and so many others.






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

Morinda Lucida Benth – Description

Morinda Lucida Benth is a shrub or a small to a medium-sized tree found in tropical forests of Western Africa such as the Ivory Coast and Nigeria. It measures  8 Р18 m high and approximately 20 Р30 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‚Äď7 mm long, falling early; petiole up to 1.5 cm long; blade elliptical, 6‚Äď18 cm √ó 2‚Äď9 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 Mulberry, 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-you (Igbo, South-east Nigeria )

Zogale (Hausa, Northern Nigeria )

Scientific Classification

Phylum      Tracheophyta

Class        Magnoliopsida

Order        Gentianales

Family       Rubiaceae

Genus       Morinda

Specie       Lucida 

Chemical constituents

Research by Adeyemi et al., 2004 at the 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 the 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 these 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 uses the decoction of M. Lucida ( Ruwo ) and Azadirachta indica ( dogo yaro ) to treat fever and malaria.  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 a 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 which causes typhoid fever.

Fakoya et al. also compared the aqueous 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 fecal spot of the 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 an anti-diarrheal effect, while the leaves are used for the treatment of infertility in women.

As chewing sticks for oral hygiene

The roots and Stem of M. Lucida have a bitter taste and are used by so many Nigerians as a chewing stick. In addition, 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 ‚ÄėKobane‚Äô, 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 the weaning of their infants to improve lactation.

See also, Medicinal uses of Cajanus cajan (pigeon peas) and Could edulis ( African walnut)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *