Characteristics of Candlenut Tree (Aleurites moluccanus) in the Wild

Aleurites moluccanus
Candlenut is a tree species whose seeds are used as a source of oil and spices and belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family.

In trade between countries, Candlenut is known as Candleberry, Indian walnut, or Kemiri. The tree is called a Varnish tree or Kukui nut tree. The oil extracted from the seeds is useful in the industry as a paint mixture.

It is not known the exact origin, Candlenut spread widely from India and China, through Southeast Asia to Polynesia and New Zealand.

In Hawaii, the Candlenut tree is a symbol of lighting, protection, and peace. Candlenut is considered the body form of Kamapua’a (God of Pig). One legend tells of a woman who, despite her best efforts to please her husband, was often beaten. Finally, her husband killed her and buried her under a Candlenut tree. Because the wife is a good and just woman, she also gets her life back. Her husband was finally killed.


Characteristics of Candlenut Leaf

Aleurites moluccanus Leaf
Source : Helebrant

The leaves are single, alternate, dark green, stem up to 30 cm long, with a pair of glands at the end of the stalk. Leaves ovate or oblong, up to 30 cm in diameter, and with a heart-shaped base.


Characteristics of Candlenut Flower

Aleurites moluccanus Flower
Source : Cumming

The flowers appear in thyrsoid panicles located at the terminal or axillary tips, about 10-20 cm long. The flowers are unisexual, white, short-stemmed.

The female flower is at the end of the panicle with an additional umbrella. The male flowers are smaller and bloom first, are all around and are more numerous.

Petals with 2-3 armor, crown lanceolate, 5-crown, 6-7 mm long in male flowers, and 9-10 mm in female flowers.


Characteristics of Candlenut Fruit

Aleurites moluccanus Fruit
Source : Cumming

The fruit is slightly round in shape, 5-6 cm × 4-7 cm in size, olive green, whitish fleshy, does not break down, has 2 or 1 seeds. The seeds are hard and thick, slightly flattened, measuring 3 cm × 3 cm, and rich in oil.


Characteristics of Candlenut Tree

Aleurites moluccanus Tree
Source : Diamond Images

The Candlenut tree grows as a large tree with a height of up to 40 meters and a trunk diameter of up to 1.5 meters. The bark is gray and slightly coarse with lenticels.

Young leaves, twigs, and flowers are decorated with dense, short, buttery-silver fur as if sprinkled with flour. From a distance, the canopy of this tree appears whitish or silvery.


Some parts of the Candlenut tree have been used in traditional medicine in rural areas.

The oil is used as an additive in hair care (to nourish hair) and the seeds can be used as a laxative.

In Japan, the bark has been used to treat tumors.

In Sumatra, the seeds are burned with charcoal, then rubbed around the navel to cure diarrhea.

In Java, the bark is used to treat diarrhea or dysentery.

Candlenut is also often planted as a multipurpose tree, to green the land, as shade on the side of the road, and also for ornamental trees.

Candlenut seeds contain mild toxic ingredients. Because it is highly recommended not to consume the seeds raw. The use of these seeds should be started by roasting (heating without oil or water) until the beans are warm. The heating aims to break down the toxin.


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