Aleurites moluccanus
Common name: 
Indian Walnut
al-yoor-RY-teez mol-oo-CAN-uhs
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Tropical, broadleaf, evergreen tree, usually to 6-15 m (20-50 ft) tall, but sometimes as much as 27 m (90 ft) high. It has a large, spreading crown, and often with irregular and wide spreading branches, some drooping to the ground. The leaves are simple, entire margins, arranged alternately, and 10-20 cm long.  The shape is variable, juvenile leaves and those on lower branches are often 3-5-lobed (somewhat maple-like), whereas adult leaves and those on higher branches are often triangular or oval shaped.  The leaf has a thick covering of stellate (star-like) hairs which gives the surface a silvery-green color and the tree has a distinct pale appearance when seen from a distance.   Flowers are in terminal clusters about 10–15cm long and consist of female and male flowers. The female flowers are up to 13mm long, with five separate creamy–white petals, male flowers are similar but longer and thinner. The fruit are rounded drupes, about 5–6 cm long and 5–7 cm wide with a tough brown then black shell that resembles that of a walnut.  Each contains 1-2 nut-like seeds (candlenuts) which are in high oil content, the oil is used in candles, for lamps, as well as in making cosmetics and personal care products.
  • Sun to light shade, needs well-drained soil and regular watering.  Has moderate tolerance to wind and salt.

  • Hardy to USDA Zone 10 (tropical)       Possibly native to the Indo-Malay region but this is difficult to establish because of early spread by humans, and the tree is now distributed and often naturalized throughout the tropics, especially in the Pacific Islands.   

  • Hawaii and kukui: Although not native to Hawaii, the kukui (Aleurites moluccanus) was designated the Hawaiian State tree in 1959. The kukui tree is an important plant in traditional Hawaiian culture and lifestyle. The nut was particularly useful. Hawaiians used the oil from the nuts to coat fisherman’s nets or to illuminate candle-pods. The outer shell of the rich-colored nuts became a natural dye for tattoos. Also, Hawaiians utilized kukui nut oil as topical dressing for massaging sore muscles, soothing burns, chapped skin and wounds. One can roast and chop the white insides of the nuts. The ancient Hawaiians have used it as a spice that they called inamona, which is still a key ingredient in poke, a popular dish made with raw fish and limu (seaweed). (

  • Aleurites: is derived from the Greek, aleurites, bread made from wheat flour or ground meal. The tree's pale coloration suggests that it is dusted with flour.  moluccanus: of Moluccas (Maluku Islands) or Spice Islands of Indonesia.


Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit

    plant habit

  • flower cluster and leaves

    flower cluster and leaves

  • flowers


  • leaves


  • developing fruit

    developing fruit

  • mature fruit

    mature fruit

  • trunk, bark

    trunk, bark