Family • Pittosporaceae - Pittosporum resiniferum Hemsl. - PETROLEUM NUT

Scientific names

Pittosporum resiniferum Hemsl.

Common names

Abkel (Ig.) Diñgo (Ig.) Lañgis (Ig.)
Abkol (Ig.) Hanga nut Obkol (Ig.)
Apisang (Ig.) Kabilan (Ig.) Pilai (Bon.)
Botiak (Ig.) Kalapakab (Bon.) Sagaga (Ting.)
Dael (Ig.) Kiligto (Ig.) Petroleum nut (Engl.)
Resin cheesewood (Engl.)


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Pittosporum resiniferum Hemsl / Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.

(2) Petroleum Nut: Sustainable, Wonder Biofuel / Michael Bengwayan / Innovation Resources

(3) Pittosporum resiniferum / World Agroforestry

(4) Learning Together: Agriculture in the Phillipines / NGO Leads Fight to Conserve and Protect Petroleum Nut / Michael A. Bengwayan / PineTreePhil

(5) Preparation of ointment from hanga nut (Pittosporum resiniferum) extract as muscle pain reliever / Sescon, Abigail Lenter S., Pilanga, Roanna Marie I., Tarrazo, Geraldine M. / STII / DOST ScINET-PHIL

Abkel is an epiphyte or pseudoepiphyte. Leaves crowded toward the ends of the branchlets, leathery,smooth, oblanceolate, averaging about 15 centimeters long and 4 centimeters wide, pointed at both ends. Flowers are fragrant, short-pedicelled, smooth, and borne in clusters on the stems. Calyx is thin and cupular. Petals are oblong. Fruit is yellow, ellipsoid, 3 to 3.5 centimeters long, and dehiscent at the apex. Seeds are shiny and black.Distribution – Grows as an epiphyte or pseudoepiphyte on trees in mossy forests at altitudes of 900 to 2,400 meters in Bontoc to the Sorsogon Provinces in Luzon, particularly in the wilderness surrounding the Mayon Volcano; and in Mindanao and Catanduanes. – Grown in the Kapangan and Kibungan towns of Benguet as a potential alternative source of fuel. – Also found in Malaysia, in the Mount Kinabalu of Sabbah.

– The volatile oil of the fruit is reported to contain dihydroterpene and heptane, which is a cardiac glycoside.
– The essential oil if 8-10% of fruit weight, 40% myrcene, 38% a-pinene, n-heptane and n-nonane are minor components.
– The oil can be distilled into a very pure form of n-heptane.

– Fruit is known as petroleum nut, even the green, fresh fruit will burn brilliantly when ignited. The fresh fruit has an odor resembling that of petroleum.
– The oil from the nut contains considerable quantities of normal heptane, which has been found only once before in nature, occurring in the bigger pine of California’s Pinus sabiniana. It also yields a dihydroterpene, C10H18.
– The oil is colorless with an orange-like odor and burns with a strong, sooty flame.
– The oil is quite sticky, and in a thin layer rapidly becomes resinous. In an open dish, it burns strongly, with a sooty flame. It distills unchanged up to 165 degrees, then with decomposition yields a resin oil.
– The nut has a carbon rating of 54, much higher than Jatropha curcas which has 41.

Parts used
Fruit, oil, leaves.

– Curanderos use the petroleum nut as a universal medicine.
– Infusion of the fruit is used as a remedy for intestinal and stomach pains.
– The oleoresin is used as a cure for leprosy and other skin diseases; also, as a relief for muscular pains and skin diseases.
– Nut decoction used for colds.
– Crushed nuts, mixed with coconut oil, used as relief for myalgia.
– Decoction of leaves, taken orally, used for cough.
– Sap used to treat tinea flava.
– Petroleum gas extracted from the fruit is used for stomachache and cicatrizant.


Lighting: Used as torch nuts or candlenuts for illumination in the bush.
Dihydroterpene: (C10H18) is used in perfumes and medicines.
Heptane: A component of gasoline, and suggested as a possible component of paint and varnish.
Biofuel: Tree produces a high octane oil that can directly be used as fuel. During WWII, it was used by the Japanese to fuel their tanks. It is estimated six trees can produce 320 liters of oil per year.

Additional info 
• Plant was discovered as a hydrocarbon source just after 1900.
• Petroleum nut is at the top of a long list of potential oil seeds including Pongamia pinnata, Sterculia foetida, Terminalia catappa, Sindora supa, Canarium luzonicum, Calophyllum inophyllum, Jatropha curcas, Euphorbia philippensis.
• The flammable element in petroleum nut is volatile, quickly evaporating like acetone.
• The fruit contains 46% of gasoline type components (heptane, dihydroterpene, etc).
• The oil comes from the fruit, not the seed.
• Yield:  Planting gives an estimated yield of 45 tons of fruit or 2500 gallons of “gasoline” per acre per year. A single fruit yields 0.1-3.3 ml, averaging about 1.1 ml; the bigger the fruit, the larger the seed, the greater the oil content.  Another reports a single tree yielding 15 kg green fruits, which yielded 80 cm3 of coil. The residue, ground and distilled, yielded 73 cm3 more. Another report gave 68 g per kg fresh nuts, suggesting about 1 kg oil per tree yielding 15 kg. Tree bears fruit in five years, one tree yields an average 250 to 300 kg. !5 kg of fresh fruit yields 1 liter of high flammable oil.
• By chemical analysis, petroleum nut is better than India’s Jatropha curcas. J. curcas has a low octane rating of 43. Octane is a hydrocarbon of the alkane series obtained from petroleum refining. The Octane Rating is how much fuel can be compressed before it ignites spontaneously. Petroleum nut has a carbon rating of 54. Fossil fuel has an octane rating of 91. Tested as a blend with fossil fuel, it can replace fossil fuel to as high as 20% to run gasoline engines.

Study Findings
• Hanga Nut Ointment / Muscle Pain Reliever: Study evaluated an ointment prepared from the extract of hanga nut for muscle pain relief. The experimental ointment showed relief of muscle pain although less than the leading brand, Omega pain killer.