Category: Fruit & Nut Trees
Aleurites Moluccana is a Hawaiian plant sometimes called the Candlenut, candleberry, Kemiri, Indian walnut, nuez de la India (also means Indian walnut), Buah keras, Kukui nut tree and varnish tree.
The Aleurites Moluccana is a member of the Euphorbiaceae or spurge family. It is part of the Aleurites genus, Aleuritdeae tribe and Crotonoideae sub-family. It is a member of the Malpighiales order.
This species grows up to eighty feet tall with wide branches. Leaves are light green, oval or tri-lobed but sometimes with five lobes. The tree itself has gray to black colored bark. The nut is one to three inches across with a hard seed inside; the nut contains a lot of oil that can be burned. This is the origin of the “candlenut” name.
Each tree produces 70 to 170 pounds of nuts. Each nut is 15% to 20% oil. Unlike the jatropha, Aleurites Moluccana oil is not an internationally traded commodity; jatropha is sold internationally for use in biofuels.
The original home of this species is unknown because it has been spread so far and wide by humans. It is, however, an entirely tropical species. The species is probably native to Malaysia. The species was so useful that the seeds of the Aleurites Moluccana were brought with Polynesians along with hogs, dogs, taro and other essentials and brought to Hawaii.
The Aleurites Moluccana nut is edible, though toxic if not cooked. In Indonesian cooking, the nut is used to make sauces put on rice and vegetables. Throughout the Pacific, the nut’s oil is burned in candles, though Jatropha are more commonly used for this purpose. Hawaiian traditional foods include roasted candlenuts mixed with salt, which is then part of poke. However, Hawaiians primarily burned the nuts for light, with each one lasting around fifteen minutes or put the oil on a stone lamp and burn that. When the oil was put on tia leaves, you had a torch.
Aleurites Moluccana seeds contain saponin; saponifiers are used in soaps. In Tonga, the ripe nuts are pounded into paste and used as soap.
Charred nuts produced black ink that could be used for tattoos. The inner bark of the tree was used to make red-brown dye. The shells were sometimes used in leis. The oil of the nuts was used as a varnish for wood canoes and preserve fishing nets. The tree trunk was used to make small canoes.
The flowers are used to treat thrush sores in children. The sap of the tree was traditionally used to treat chapped lips and cold sores. The oil, which is more often burned for light, has a laxative effect. The mashed nut was sometimes used to treat constipation, especially along with other herbs. Malaysians sometimes use the pulped seed in poultices for swollen joints and headaches. The bark is used for bloody diarrhea.
A parasite of the Aleurites Moluccana is Agrionome fairmairei. The larva of this species is eaten by many in the Pacific; the tropical diet is typically lacking in protein, especially where fish are not readily available.
The Aleurites Moluccana is the state tree of Hawaii. It received this designation the same year Hawaii became a state.
The Aleurites Moluccana is considered the symbol for the island of Molokai.
To Native Hawaiians, the Aleurites Moluccana is a symbol of enlightenment and protection, a living form of the pig god.