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Noni leaves are elliptical, dark green edible leaves. They grow to 20 to 40 centimeters long, by 7 to 25 centimeters wide. They are pinnately veined, and are glossy on the top sides. Noni leaves grow alternately on the stems of the Noni tree, which reaches around 10 meters in height. Noni leaves have a bitter, acrid taste. When cut, they have an ammonia-like scent.
Noni leaves are available year-round.
Noni is botanically classified as Morinda citrifolia L. Noni leaves are also referred to as Indian Mulberry leaves, Bai-yo leaves, and Mengkudu leaves. They are commonly harvested from backyard gardens, rather than bought from the supermarket. As with the Noni fruit, Noni leaves are seen as a general health tonic.
Noni leaves contain flavanoids, proteins, saponin and tannins. They are rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Vitamin E. They have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, antifungal and anti-oxidant benefits, and have been shown to help improve digestion.
Noni leaves are best eaten cooked. They may be blanched or stir-fried. They pair well with coconut milk and are found in curries and soups in various cuisines, from Thai to Vietnamese. In Tahitian cuisine, fish is wrapped in Noni leaves before baking. To prepare them for use, first wash the leaves, then strip them from their stems. Roll them up and cut them into strips. Noni leaves are also commonly dried, then used as tea. Noni leaf tea has a pleasant, mild green tea and cocoa-like flavour. To store Noni leaves, place them in a loose bag in the refrigerator, where they will last for a maximum of 2 days.
Noni leaves are used in the traditional healing techniques of Polynesia. In Tonga, one legend tells of the god Maui being restored to health after Noni leaves are placed on his body. In traditional medicines of the islands, they are used to treat cuts and bruises. In Hawaii and Tahiti, leaves are said to have positive effects on arthritis, infections, diabetes and hypertension. Noni leaves are heated, then applied to the chest to treat coughs in Chinese medicine.
Noni is a pantropical plant. Its exact origins are unknown, but it is thought to have first been found in Southeast Asia and Australia. Today, it grows in the Polynesian islands, Melanesia, Central and South America, the Bahamas, Bermuda, and in parts of Florida and Africa. The plant is known to be able to survive harsh conditions and can grow on coral atolls or basaltic lava flows.
Recipes that include Noni Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.
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