Aleurites moluccana is the state tree of Hawaii. Common names for the tree include Kukui Nut, Indian Walnut, Candleberry tree, Balucant, and Candlenut.
Aleurites moluccana is a fast-growing tree that can reach over 10 m (34 feet) in height, and its spread averages 8 m (25 feet). It is a is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family.
kukui nut trees photograph by Forest and Kim Starr; CC.
It is an evergreen tree that is best grown in USDA hardiness zones 10 to 12. As a native to Hawaii, Australia and other tropical regions, this plant prefers to grow in hot humid areas.
The young tree has leaves and branches that are hairy in texture. From a distance, it looks like the tree is covered in a dusting of flour. The green leaves come in a variety of shapes.
Aleurites moluccana (Kukui, kukui nut) photograph by Forest and Kim Starr.
The small creamy white flowers bloom in the spring into early fall. The flowers have five petals and form at the branches’ ends. Once the flowers begin to fade, the nuts make their appearance.
Though the flowering tree is beautiful in its own right, it is the nuts that the tree produces that most people are interested in.
The nuts can be roasted and consumed in very small quantities. The more common practice is to grind the roasted nuts and use them in recipes or as a food topper. Charring nuts produces a dye that can be used for traditional Hawaiian tattoos. However, it is perhaps the oil that is extracted from the nut meat that is the true prize as it is often used in soap and varnish production, and can also be used as a fuel.
This ornamental tree will certainly add a note of interest to the landscape.
Aleurites moluccana leaf close up, image by Forest and Kim Starr; CC.
This evergreen tree can grow in a sunny or lightly shaded spot in the garden and it loves to be near water. Full sunlight gives best results.
Ideally grow in a slightly acidic fertile soil. Although the Aleurites moluccana tree can tolerate most soil types it will not thrive in poorer soils.
Ideally grow in a humid area that has a well-drained and medium moisture soil.
Aleurites moluccana trunk and branches photograph by Forest and Kim Starr; CC.