The genus Aleurites has been designated as masculine (International Code Of Botanical Nomenclature 62:4) and the endings of specific names have been changed to reflect this[
Aleurites ambinux Pers.
Aleurites angustifolius Vieill.
Aleurites angustifolius Vieill. ex Guillaumin
Aleurites commutatus Geiseler
Aleurites cordifolius (Gaertn.) Steud.
Aleurites integrifolius Vieill.
Aleurites integrifolius Vieill. ex Guillaumin
Aleurites javanicus Gand.
Aleurites lanceolatus Blanco
Aleurites lobatus Blanco
Aleurites pentaphyllus Wall.
Aleurites remyi Sherrf.
Aleurites trilobus J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.
Camerium moluccanum (L.) Kuntze
Camirium cordifolium Gaertn.
Camirium oleosum Reinw. ex Blume
Croton moluccanus L.
Dryandra oleifera Lam.
Jatropha moluccana L.
Mallotus moluccanus (L.) Müll.Arg.
Manihot moluccana (L.) Crantz
Ricinus dicoccus Roxb.
Rottlera moluccana (L.) Scheff.
Telopea perspicua Sol. ex Seem.
Common Name: Candle Nut
Aleurites moluccanus is a striking, evergreen tree with a spreading, irregular, dense canopy; it can grow up to 30 metres tall. The straight, cylindrical bole can be up to 70cm in diameter, exceptionally to 150cm[
A multipurpose tree, providing food, medicines and a valuable oil. It is a beautiful tree, with its glinting, silvery, maple-like foliage and cream white flowers that can appear more than once a year[
]. It is widely cultivated in tropical areas, both as an ornamental plant[
], and for the oil that is obtained from the seed. It is one of the great domesticated trees of the world, having a wide range of uses, and has been adopted as the official tree emblem of Hawaii, where it was probably imported by Polynesian ancestors[
The fresh seed contains a principle resembling croton oil and should not be eaten[
]. Thorough drying destroys this principle[
The seeds contain cyanide, which is largely destroyed by thorough drying or cooking. However, some strains of the tree contain much higher levels of toxins than other strains[
The leaves are toxic[
E. Asia - China, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, New Guinea, Australia, Pacific Islands.
Rain forest, monsoon forest, or tall advanced secondary forest; growing on mountain slopes, very abundant on ridges, sometimes in sandy soil among granite boulders, loam soil or on former shifting cultivation lands, at elevations below 300 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
The tree thrives in moist tropical regions, ranging from subtropical dry to wet through tropical very dry to wet forest life zones. It grows best at altitudes below 1,200 metres with a mean annual temperature in the range 18 - 28°c, and a mean annual rainfall of 650 - 4,300mm[
]. Plants can tolerate short-lived frosts with temperatures occasionally falling as low as -4°c[
Requires a sunny position[
]. Succeeds in a wide range of soils so long as they are well-drained[
]. Plants prefer a pH in the range 5 - 8[
]. Tolerant of strong winds and some salt spray[
Some caution should be employed before introducing this tree into new areas since it can be very invasive[
Growth is moderately fast, up to 1.5 metres per year in height under favourable conditions. In the Philippines trees reached a height of 12.5 metres with a stem diameter of 15cm 8 years after planting[
The tree first flowers when it is about 4 years old. Flowering can occur year-round, and flowers and fruits of all stages of development may be present on a tree. The fruits need 3 - 4 months to develop and mature[
Once established, trees require little to no attention. They can bear 2 heavy crops each year, harvested when mature[
]. In plantations nut yields are estimated at 5 - 20 tonnes per hectare, with each tree producing 30 - 80 kg[
]. Oil production varies from 15 to 20% of nut weight[
Trees coppice when young and respond to pollarding when old[
Seed - cooked. The roasted seed is eaten in small quantities only, since larger amounts are said to be laxative[
]. The seeds of a type grown in Vanuatu can be eaten in larger quantities without any apparent toxic effect[
]. After removing the hard outer coat, the seed can be pounded into a meal and eaten as a sauce[
]. The seed can be used in curries[
]. The seed is an indispensable spice in Indonesian cuisine, where it is known as 'kemiri. It possesses little flavour of its own, but mainly acts as a flavour enhancer, being added to numerous dishes in small quantities, raw, or briefly roasted, pounded and mixed with other ingredients[
]. In Hawaii a spice called 'inamona' is prepared from the seeds mixed with seaweed and salt[
The seed needs to be stored for some time, so that they are thoroughly dried, before they are eaten[
]. See notes above on toxicity.
The residual oil cake is sometimes processed into a snack-food called 'dage kemiri' in Indonesia[
]. It is prepared by pounding the oil cake, then soaking it for 48 hours in running water, steaming it and then covering it with a banana leaf with a weight on top of it to press out remaining liquid. It is then left to ferment for 48 hours in a dark place[
]. The fruit has a thick rind enclosing two large seeds surrounded by a thin layer of pulp[
An oil is obtained from the seed[
]. The oil is inedible[
Candle nut is a widely used traditional medicine in the Pacific Islands[
]. Some caution needs to be employed when using this plant since there are also reports of toxicity[
The bark is used to treat wounds, tumours, bloody diarrhoea and dysentery[
]. Bark juice, with coconut milk, is used for treating sprue[
In Tonga, infertility in women is treated by daily drinking a decoction of the bark[
]. Secondary amenorrhoea is also treated with a decoction of the bark[
Thrush, sore throat, tonsillitis and mouth sores are treated in Polynesia by gargling with an infusion of the bark[
The oil is purgative and sometimes used like castor oil[
]. The irritant oil is rubbed on scalp as a hair stimulant[
In the Cook Islands and Tahiti, candlenut oil is used to make a massage oil for a certain kind of headache (possibly caused by meningitis)[
The kernels are laxative, stimulant and sudorific[
]. The pulped kernel is used in poultices for headache, fevers, ulcers and swollen joints[
In Papua New Guinea, the seeds are applied externally to the male genitals as a contraceptive[
The leaves are used to treat constipation and food poisoning[
]. A decoction of the leaves is used in treating coughs, diarrhoea, pains in the chest and hernia[
]. An infusion of the leaves is used as a lotion or is ingested for mouth infections of infants[
]. The boiled leaves are used as a poultice to treat headaches and gonorrhoea[
The tree is used in reforestation projects[
]. Moderately fast growing, tolerant of strong winds and full sun and with a wide range of uses, it is an excellent species for use as a pioneer when restoring native woodland and establishing woodland gardens, though its ability to become naturalized in new areas means it should not be used outside areas where it is already established[
]. It is often planted as a living fence or as a boundary marker[
The seed yields 57-80% of an inedible, semi-drying oil, liquid at ordinary temperatures, solidifying at -15 deg. C, containing oleostearic acid[
]. The oil, quicker drying than linseed oil, has a wide range of uses, being employed in applications such as a wood preservative; for varnishes and paint oils; as an illuminant; for soap making; cosmetics; linoleum manufacture; waterproofing paper; rubber substitutes; and insulating material[
]. It can be painted on bottoms of small crafts to protect against marine borers and also prevents feeding by striped cucumber beetle[
]. Oil yields as high as 300 kg/ha have been reported[
The seeds are so rich in oil that they have been strung together on a string and used as candles[
A fast-drying oil is obtained from the seed[
]. It is used in paints, making soap and as a lamp oil[
]. It is suitable, with modification, for use as a substitute for diesel fuel, the residues can be converted to alcohol or burnt as a fuel[
A copper-red dye is obtained from the plant (the seed?), used for decorating cloth[
The powdered seed is used as an adjuvant in the manufacture of palm sugar[
The seed press cake is suitable as a fertilizer[
The bark contains about 4 - 6% tannin[
The hardness of the seedcase is exploited in a gambling game in which the objective is to break the opponent’s stone by hitting it with one's own. In Indonesia a special cultivar is grown for this purpose[
The shells of the seeds are used in making traditional garlands (‘leis’)[
The whitish wood is fine-grained, light in weight, soft, not durable, susceptible to termite attack[
]. It is used for general furniture, making plywood[
]. Where the wood is abundantly available it is used for carving and to make furniture, small utensils and matches[
]. It is suitable for paper pulp[
The tree is sometimes planted as a backyard tree to supply firewood[
Seed - The seeds are very hard-shelled, and untreated seeds have been known to stay in a seedbed for as long as 38-150 days before germination[
]. The most satisfactory method of treatment is to place a single layer of seeds on the ground and cover them with dried leaves or grass. The grass is then burned. Immediately after burning and while seeds are still hot, they are thrown into cold water, which results in the cracking of the hard shells. The results of this kind of treatment showed an average germination of more than 30%[
]. For even faster germination, the seed can be cracked[
]. Kernels adhere to sides of the shell and are difficult to separate[