Aleurites moluccana (L.) Willd.
Syn.: Aleurites triloba Forst.
Croton moluccanus L.
Candlenut oil tree, Candleberry, Varnish tree, Indian or Belgaum walnut
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
Seed yields 5780% of inedible, semi-drying oil, liquid at ordinary
temperatures, solidifying at -15°C, containing oleostearic acid. Oil,
quicker drying than linseed oil, is used as a wood preservative, for varnishes
and paint oil, as an illuminant, for soap making, waterproofing paper, rubber
substitutes and insulating material. Seeds are moderately poisonous and press
cake is used as fertilizer. Kernels when roasted and cooked are considered
edible; may be strung as candlenuts. Oil is painted on bottoms of small crafts
to .protect against marine borers. Tung oil, applied to cotton bolls, stops
boil weevils from eating them. Also prevents feeding by striped cucumber
Bark used on tumors in Japan. The oil is purgative and sometimes used
like castor oil. Kernels are laxative stimulant, and sudorific. The irritant
oil is rubbed on scalp as a hair stimulant. In Sumatra, pounded seeds, burned
with charcoal,are applied around the navel forcositiveness. In Malaya, the
pulped kernel enters poultices for headache, fevers, ulcers, and swollen
joints. In Java, the bark is used for bloody diarrhea or dysentery. Bark
juice with coconut milk is used for sprue. Malayans apply boiled leaves to the
temples for headache and to the pubes for gonnorhea
The oil cake, containing ca 46.2% protein, 4.4% P2O5, and 2.0% K2O, is
said to be poisonous. A toxalbumin and HCN have been suggested. Bark contains
ca 46% tannin. Oil also contains glycerides of linolenic, oleic and various
linoleic acids. Per 100 g, the seed is reported to contain 626 calories, 7.0 g
H2O, 19.0 g protein, 63.0 g fat, 8.0 g total carbohydrate, 3.0 g ash, 80 mg Ca,
200 mg P, 2.0 mg Fe, 0 mg beta-carotene equivalent, 0.06 mg thiamine, and 0 mg
Medium-sized tree, up to 20 m tall, ornamental, with widespreading or
pendulous branches; leaves simple, variable in shape, young leaves large, up to
30 cm long, palmate, with 37 acuminate lobes, shining, while leaves on mature
trees are ovate, entire, and acuminate, long-petioled, whitish above when
young, becoming green with age, with rusty stellate pubescence beneath when
young, and perisiting on veins and petiole; flowers in rusty-pubescent panicled
cymes 1015 cm long; petals 5, dingy white or creamy, oblong, up to 1.3 cm
long; ovary 2-celled; fruit an indehiscent drupe, roundish, 5 cm or more in
diameter, with thick rough hard shell making up 6468% of fruit, difficult to
separate from kernels; containing 1 or 2 seeds. Fl. Apr.May (Sri Lanka).
Reported from the Indochina-Indonesia Center of Diversity, Aleurites
moluccana or cvs thereof is reported to tolerate high pH, low pH, poor
soil, and slope (Duke, 1978) (2n = 44, 22)
Native to Malaysia, Polynesia, Malay Peninsula, Philippines and South
Seas Islands; now widely distributed in tropics. Naturalized or cultivated in
Malagasy, Sri Lanka, southern India, Bangladesh, Brazil, West Indies, and Gulf
Coast of United States.
Candlenut trees thrive in moist tropical regions, up to 1,200 m
altitude. Ranging from Subtropical Dry to Wet through Tropical Very Dry to Wet
Forest Life Zones, Aleurites moluccana is reported to tolerate annual
precipitation of 6.4 to 42.9 dm (mean of 14 cases = 19.4) annual temperature of
18.7 to 27.4°C (mean of 14 cases = 24.6) and pH of 5.0 to 8.0 (mean of 7
cases = 64). (Duke,1978, 1979)
Usually propagated from seed, requiring 34 months to germinate.
Seedlings planted 300/ha. Once established, trees require little to no
Bears two heavy crops each year, harvested when mature. Kernels adhere
to sides of shell and are difficult to separate.
In plantations yields are estimated at 520 MT/ha nuts, each tree
producing 3080 kg. Oil production varies from 15 to 20% of nut weight. Most
oil produced in India, Sri Lanka and other tropical regions is used locally and
does not figure into international trade. In the past, oil has sold for 1214
pounds per ton in England. According to the Chemical Marketing Reporter (June
8, 1981), tung oil prices (then ca 0.65/lb.) are likely to rise in the near
future if demand remains adequate and Argentinean and Parguayan suppliers
pressure the U.S. market by charging high prices for replacement oil. U.S.
imports for the first quarter of 1981 were 58% higher than 1980, despite the
absence of Chinese tung from the market.
Nut yields at 80 kg/tree, spaced at 200 trees per hectare, would suggest
16 MT/ha/yr, about 20% of which (3 MT) would be oil, suitable, with
modification, for diesel uses, the residues for conversion to alcohol or
pyrolysis. Fruit yields may range from 420 MT/ha/yr. Commercial production
of oil yields 1218% of the weight of the dry unhulled fruits, the fruits being
air-dried to ca 1215% moisture before pressing (Univ. Fla. Bul. 221, 1935).
Oil yields as high as 3, 100 kg/ha have been reported. The pomace contains
4.55% oil. This suggests that the "chaff factor" might be ca 0.8. As of June
15, tung oil was $0.65/lb, compared to $0.38 for peanut oil, $1.39 for
poppyseed oil, $0.33 for linseed oil, $0.275 for coconut oil, $0.265 for
cottonseed oil, $0.232 for corn oil, and $0.21 for soybean oil (Chemical
Marketing Reporter, June 15, 1981). At $2.00 per gallon, gasoline is roughly
Following fungi are known to attack candlenut-oil tree:
Cephalosporium sp., Clitocybe tabescens, Fomes hawaiensis,
Gloeosporium aleuriticum, Physalospora rhodina, Polyporus gilvus, Pythium
ultimum, Sclerotium rolfsii, Sphaeronema reinkingii, Trametes corrugata,
Xylaria curta, Ustulina deusta. Nematodes include Meloidogyne sp.
(Golden, p.c. 1984).
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Duke, J.A. 1978. The quest for tolerant germplasm. p. 161. In: ASA
Special Symposium 32, Crop tolerance to suboptimal land conditions. Am. Soc.
Agron. Madison, WI.
- Duke, J.A. 1979. Ecosystematic data on economic plants. Quart. J. Crude Drug
- Univ. Fla. Bul. 221, 1935
Last update Friday, December 19, 1997