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Pili Nut

Contributor: Francis T. Zee, USDA-ARS, National Clonal Germplasm Repository, Hilo, HI.

Copyright © 1995. All Rights Reserved. Quotation from this document should cite and acknowledge the contributor.

  1. Common Names
  2. Scientific Names
  3. Uses
  4. Origin
  5. Crop Status
  6. Botany
    1. Taxonomy
    2. Description
  7. Crop Culture (Agronomy/Horticulture)
    1. Cultivars
    2. Production Information
    3. Harvesting
  8. Germplasm
    1. Collections
  9. Key References
  10. Selected Experts

Common Names

English: pili nut
Philippines: pili, anangi, basiad, liputi, pilaui, and pili-pilauai.

Scientific Names

Canarium ovatum Engl.


Pili nut kernel is the most important product. When raw, it resembles the flavor of roasted pumpkin seed, and when roasted, its mild, nutty flavor and tender-crispy texture is superior to that of the almond. Pili kernel is also used in chocolate, icecream, and baked goods. The edible light-yellow color oil from the kernel is comparable in quality to that of olive oil, containing 59.6% oleic glycerides and 38.2% palmitic glycerides. The young shoots and the fruit pulp are edible. The shoots are used in salads, and the pulp is eaten after it is boiled and seasoned. Boiled pili pulp resembles the sweet potato in texture, it is oily (about 12%) and is considered to have food value similar to the avocado. Pulp oil can be extracted and used for cooking or as a substitute for cotton seed oil in the manufacture of soap and edible products. The stony shells are excellent fuel or as porous, inert growth medium for orchids and anthurium.


Philippines: abundant and wild in Southern Luzon, and parts of Visayas and Mindanao in low and medium elevation primary forests.

Crop Status

A minor crop produced only in the Philippines. The bulk of the raw nuts are supplied from wild stands in the mountains around Sorsogon, Albay and Camarines Sur in the Bicol region. The average annual production between 1983-1987 was 2925 tonnes of dried nuts from an estimated 2700 ha. Pili nut has the potential to become a major nut crop. Improvement of nd knowledge in efficient vegetative propagation, ecological and cultural requirements of pili as a commercial crop, and the mechanization for commercial processing are needed.



Synonyms: Canarium pachyphyllum Perkins, Canarium melioides Elmer.


Pili is a dioecious evergreen tree up to 20 m tall with resinous wood and resistance to wind. Leaves are compound and alternate with odd-pinnate leaflets. Flowers are borne on cymose inflorescence at the leaf axils of young shoots. Pollination is by insects. Flowering of pili is frequent and fruits ripen through a prolonged period of time. The ovary contains three locules, each with two ovules, most of the time only one ovule develops. Fruit is a drupe, 4 to 7 cm long, 2.3 to 3.8 cm in diameter, and weight 15.7 to 45.7 g. The skin (exocarp) is smooth, thin, shiny, and turns purplish black as the fruit ripens: the pulp (mesocarp) is fibrous, fleshy, and greenish yellow in color, and the hard shell (endocarp) within protects a normally dicotyledonous embryo. The basal end of the shell (endocarp) is pointed and the apical end is more or less blunt; between the seed and the hard shell (endocarp) is a thin, brownish, fibrous seed coat developed from the inner layer of the endocarp. This thin coat usually adheres tightly to the shell and/or the seed. Much of the kernel weight is made up of the cotyledons, which are about 4.1 to 16.6% of the whole fruit; it is composed of approximately 8% carbohydrate, 11.5 to 13.9% protein, and 70% fat. Kernels from some trees may be bitter, fibrous or have a turpentine odor.

Crop Culture (Agronomy/Horticulture)


There are three pili cultivars in the Philippines, they are : 'Katutubo', 'Mayon', and 'Oas'. 'Poamoho' is the only cultivar in Hawaii.

Production Information

Pili is a tropical tree preferrring deep, fertile, well-drained soil, warm temperatures, and well distributed rainfall. It can not tolerate the slightest frost or low temperatures. Refrigeration of seeds at 4 to 13C resulted in loss of viability after 5 days. Seed germination is highly recalcitrant, reduced from 98 to 19% after 12 weeks of storage at room temperature; seeds stored for more than 137 days did not germinate. The seedlings take 40 to 50 days to emerge; year old seedlings can be used for rootstock. Asexual propagation is best through patch budding, which claimed to have a success rate of 85-90% in the Philippines. Marcotting is too inconsistent to be used for propagating in commerical production. Production standards for a mature pili tree is between 100 to 150 kg of in-shell nuts. Most of the production in the Philippines are from seedling trees and are highly variable in kernel qualities and production.


Harvesting is from May to October, peaking in June to August, and requires several pickings. Fruits are de-pulped, cleaned and dried to 3 - 5% moisture (30C for 27 to 28 h). Nut in shell with a moisture content of 2.5 to 4.6% can be stored in the shade for one year without deterioration of qualities.



College of Agriculture, University of the Philippines at Los Banos, College, Laguna 4031, Philippines.

USDA/ARS, National Clonal Germplasm Repository, Hilo, P.O. Box 4487, Hilo, HI 96720 (limited).

Key References

Selected Experts

Coronel, R.E., College of Agriculture, University of the Philippines at Los Banos, College, Laguna 4031, Philippines, Tel: 2448-2478.

[Contributor: Francis T. Zee, USDA-ARS, National Clonal Germplasm Repository, Hilo, HI.]

Copyright © 1995. All Rights Reserved. Quotation from this document should cite and acknowledge the contributor.

Last update Tuesday, February 24, 1998 by aw