The plant represented in our quilt pattern is the noni (Indian mulberry). This is a fascinating plant, demanding of our respect. Its prolific beauty, bearing fruit year round...as if to say, "here I am, please use me." The aroma of its fruit is truly awesome. It is well known to be one of the main healers among the traditional Hawai'i medicinal plants. It is said that this plant food is to be used when we are feeling really ill or really old.
As a medicine, the fruit and its juices have been used in the treatment of diabetes, heart troubles and high blood pressure, with different portions prescribed for different illnesses. A poultice made from the noni was used to help broken bones knit.
The fruit was used in a recipe for a reputed remedy against tuberculosis, arthritis, rheumatism and the changes of old age. The leaves and bark of the stem were pounded and strained, resulting in a liquid drunk as a tonic or for urinary disorders, muscle and joint pain. The juice of the fruit was applied to the hair to rid it of head lice - "uku" - followed whenever possible by a fragrant shampoo of 'awapuhi kuahiwi.
Other uses for this ancient Polynesian plant: the bark yields a red dye, while a yellow dye can be prepared from the root. Both colors were use to dye the tapa cloth of the chiefs of ancient Hawai'i.
In Tongan myth, the god Maui was restored to life by having the noni placed on his body.
Noni is found growing between the shore and lowland woods, often near ancient house sites. It is believed to have been brought here centuries ago by early Polynesian settlers, and is a native of the Pacific islands, Asia and Australia.