Morinda lucida is an evergreen shrub or small to a medium-sized tree bearing a dense crown of slender, crooked branches; it can grow from 2.4 - 18 meters tall, though specimens up to 25 metres are recorded in coastal Cote D'Ivoire. The bole and branches are often crooked or gnarled A multipurpose species yielding dyes, timber, fuel and traditional medicines. The roots are sold in local shops and markets, both as dyestuff and medicine, whilst the leaves and twigs are sold as a medicinal tonic for young children[299
The plant is occasionally grown in home gardens
The wood of Morinda lucida yields yellow to red dyes. 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. The root is the most important traditional source of yellow dye for textiles in the Kasai Province of DR Congo. It can be used without a mordant. The root is also added to indigo vats in Côte d’Ivoire, to contribute both to the fermentation and reduction process necessary for dyeing with indigo and to get darker blues. In this process it is often combined with leafy twigs of Saba comorensis (Bojer) Pichon (synonym: Saba florida (Benth.) Bullock). In the region of Kasongo in north-eastern DR Congo, young leaves of Morinda lucida are combined with leaves of a Philenoptera species (a source of indigo) to obtain a pale green dye used in basket weaving. The bitter-tasting roots are used as flavouring for food and alcoholic beverages and in Nigeria they are popular as chewing sticks.