Family • Euphorbiaceae - Aleurites moluccana (Linn.) Willd. - CANDLE NUT TREE - He shi li

Scientific names

Aleurites moluccana (Linn.) Willd.
Aleurites javanicus Gand.
Aleurites trilobus J. R. Forst. & G, Forst.
Aleurites lobata Blanco
Aleurites lanceolata Blanco
Jatropha moluccana Linn.

Common names

Baiu (C. Bis., Bag.)
Kalumban (Tag.)
Kapili (Tag.)
Kami (Sul.)
Lumbang (Tag.)
Lumbang-bato (Tag.)
Rumbang (Bis.)
Bankul nut tree (Engl.)
Candleberry (Engl.)
Candle nut (Engl.)
Indian walnut (Engl.)
Lumbang tree (Engl.)
Varnish tree (Engl.)

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Shi li, He shi li.
DANISH: Bankultrae.
DUTCH: Bankoelnoot, Kemirinoot.
FRENCH: Bancoulier des Moluques, Noix de bancoul, Noyer de bancoul, Noyer des Moluques.
GERMAN: Candlenuß, Bankulnußbaum, Lichtnußbaum.
ITALIAN: Aleurite delle Molucche, Noce delle Molucche, Noce di bankul.
JAPANESE: Kukui nattsu, Kukui noki.
MALAY: Buah keras, Kemiri.
PORTUGUESE: Nogueira de Iguape (Brazil), Noz da India, Noz-molucana.
SPANISH: Calumbán, Camirio, Lumbán, Nuez de bancul, Nuez de candelas.
SUNDANESE: Moentjang.
SWEDISH: Lumbangträ.
THAI: Ma yao, Phothisat, Pu rat.

Gen info
Aleurites is derived from a Greek word meaning “wheaten flour,” because of the appearance of the under
surface of the leaf. The most widespread species is the Candlenut.


Lumbang is a large tree reaching a diameter of 80 to 150 centimeters. Younger parts and the inflorescences are hairy. Leaves have long petioles. Blades are ovate to lanceolate, 10 to 20 centimeters long, entire or lobed. Flowers are white, numerous, 6 to 8 millimeters long, borne on panicles 10 to 15 centimeters long. Fruit is fleshy, ovoid, smooth, 5 to 6 centimeters long, containing 1 or 2 hard-shelled, oily seeds. Shell of the seed is very hard, rough, ridged, about 2.5 millimeters thick. Within the seed is a white, oily, fleshy kernel consisting of a very thin embryo surrounded by a large endosperm.


– Throughout the Philippines, at low and medium altitudes, in second-growth forests, thickets, etc.
– Occurs in tropical Asia to Polynesia.
– Now planted in most tropical countries.

– Kernel contains 52-60 percent of oil.
– Oil contains an acrid resin, a purgative principle.
– Oil yields essential fatty acids (linoleic and linolenic acids).
– Studies have yielded sterols, flavonoids and triterpenes from the leaves.
– Various extracts and fractions of leaves yielded phenolic compounds, n-hentriacontane, α-amyrin, β-amyrin, stigmasterol, β-sitosterol and campesterol.
– Dichlormethane extract of bark yielded 12-hydroxy-13-methoxy-8,11,13- podocarpatrien-3-one, spruceanol, 3-acetylaleuritolic acid, polyprenols, triglycerides and a mixture of β-sitosterol and stigmasterol in a 4:1 ratio.
– Study yielded a new phorbol diester, 13-O-myristyl-20-O-acetyl-12-deoxyphorbol, from the benzene extract of the heartwood of Aleurites moluccana, together with, hentriacontane, 6,7-dimethoxycoumarin, 5,6,7-trimethoxycoumarin and beta-sitostenone.

– Considered a drying oil, resembling linseed oil and the Chinese wood oil (tung oil).
– Shells are very hard and difficult to crack; likewise, difficult to separate the kernel from the shell.
– Oil has a light yellow color
– Kernels considered aphrodisiac.
– Like castor oil, it has a mild aperient action.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Aleurites / Wikipedia

(2) Separation of C-glycoside Flavonoids from Aleurites moluccana Using Chitin and Full N-acetylated Chitin / Michele Morsch et al /

(3) Anti-inflammatory and antipyretic activity of Aleuritis moluccana leaves / Junaid Niazi, Vikas Gupta et al / Asian Journ of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research, Vol.3 Issue 1, January-March 2010

(4) Hypolipidaemic activity of methanol extract of Aleurites moluccana / R C Pedrosa, C Meyre-Silva et al / Phytotherapy Research, Volume 16 Issue 8, Pages 765 – 768

(5) Evaluation of kukui oil (Aleurites moluccana) for controlling termites / F.S. Nakayama, and W.L. Osbrink / Industrial Crops and Products, Vol 31, Issue 2, March 2010, Pages 312-315 / doi:10.1016/j.indcrop.2009.11.009

(6) Sorting Aleurites names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 – 2000 The University of Melbourne.

(7) Aleurites moluccana (L.) Willd. Leaves: Mechanical Antinociceptive Properties of a Standardized Dried Extract and Its Chemical Markers / Nara L M Quintao, Christiane Meyre-Silva et al / Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011; 2011 / doi: 10.1155/2011/179890

(8) Termites: Chemical and Biological Control for Integrated Pest Management of Invasive Species / Nakayama Francis, Osbrink Weste / Industrial Crops and Products. 31 (2): 312-315.

(9) Aleurites moluccana (kukui) / Craig R Elevitch and Harley I Manner / Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry, April 2006

(10) Preliminary phytochemical and pharmacological studies of Aleurites moluccana leaves [L.] Willd. / Meyre-Silva C, Mora TC, Biavatti MW, Santos AR, Dal-Magro J, Yunes RA, Cechinel-Filho V. / Phytomedicine. 1998 Apr;5(2):109-13. doi: 10.1016/S0944-7113(98)80006-8.

(11) Aleurites moluccana and its main ingredient, the flavonoid 2″-O-rhamnosylswertisin, have proming antinociceptive effects in experimental models of hypersensitivity in mice / Nara L M Quintao et al / Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior 102 (2012) 302-311

(12) Chemical constituents of the bark of Aleurites moluccana L. Willd./ Agnes B. Alimboyoguen, Kathlia A. De Castro-Cruz, Chien-Chang Shen, Wen-Tai Li and Consolacion Y. Ragasa* / Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research, 2014, 6(5):1318-1320

(13) Aleurites moluccana (L.) Willd. Ecology, silviculture and productivity / Haruni Krisnawati Maarit Kallio Markku Kanninen / 2011 Center for International Forestry Research


(15) Antibacterial activity of aleurites moluccana against some clinical isolates. / Abd. Samah, Othman and Mohamad Razar, Rasyidah / Research Journal of Biotechnology, 5 (3). pp. 25-30, 2010.

(16) Biodiesel Production from High Iodine Number Candlenut Oil / Hary Sulistyo, Suprihastuti S. Rahayu, Gatot Winoto, I M. Suardjaja / World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, Vol:2 2008-12-23

(17) Crude Candlenut Oil Ethanolysis to Produce Renewable Energy at Ambient Condition / Hary Sulistyo, Suprihastuti S. Rahayu, I M. Suardjaja and Umar H. Setiadi / Proceedings of the World Congress on Engineering and Computer Science 2009 Vol I WCECS 2009, October 20-22, 2009, San Francisco, USA

(18) A new phorbol diester from Aleurites moluccana. / Satyanarayana P1, Kumar KA, Singh SK, Rao GN. / Fitoterapia. 2001 Mar;72(3):304-6.

(19) Candlenut (Aleurites moluccana) Poison Antidote

(20) Antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory and wound healing features in animal models treated with a semisolid herbal medicine based on Aleurites moluccana L. Willd. Euforbiaceae standardized leaf extract: semisolid herbal. / Cesca TG, Faqueti LG, Rocha LW, Meira NA, Meyre-Silva C, de Souza MM, Quintão NL, Silva RM, Filho VC, Bresolin TM. / J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Aug 30;143(1):355-62. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2012.06.051

(21) Contribution of α,β-Amyrenone to the Anti-Inflammatory and Antihypersensitivity Effects of Aleurites moluccana (L.) Willd. / Nara Lins Meira Quintão, Lilian W. Rocha, Gislaine Franciele Silva, Simone Reichert, Vanessa D. Claudino, Ruth Meri Lucinda-Silva, Angela Malheiros, Márcia Maria De Souza, Valdir Cechinel Filho, Tania M. Bellé Bresolin, Marina da Silva Machado, Theodoro Marcel Wagner, and Christiane Meyre-Silva / BioMed Research International, Volume 2014 (2014) /


Parts used
Kernels, leaves.

– Raw seeds are toxic, but cooked seeds can be eaten sparingly, especially as condiment. A variety found in Vanuatu has not apparent toxic effect.
– Hawaiians have used the roasted, pounded kukui seed kernel mixed with salt and seaweed or chili peppers as a condiment called ‘inamona.’


– In the Philippines, the seeds are used as a mild purgative.
– In Madagascar and La Reunion, the leaves, heated with a flatiron, are applied in succession to articulations in cases of acute rheumatism.
– Used for stomach and bowel disorders in children, asthma, bad breath, skin sores and ulcers, for swollen womb, and for rejuvenation after poisoning.
– Kukui nut oil is considered a strong laxative; sometimes used like castor oil.
– Oil has been long used by the Polynesians as a skin moisturizer.
– Kernels used as aphrodisiac.
– Juice of nuts used as a remedy for piles, worms.
– Nuts, soaked in oil, are placed in the anus to relieve piles.
– In India, oil is used as a dressing for ulcers.
– In Indonesia, oil is applied to hair to promote hair growth.
– In Punjab folk medicine, used for headaches, ulcers, fevers, diarrhea and hypocholesterolemia.
– In Brazilian folk medicine, used to treat fever, headaches, tumors, diarrhea and asthma.
– In Japan, bark used for tumors. In Java, bark used for bloody diarrhea. In Sumatra, pounded seeds, burnt with charcoal, applied around navel for costiveness. In Malaysia, pulped kernel or boiled leaves used in poultices for headache, fever, ulcers, swollen joints. In Hawaii, flowers and husk sap used to treat candidiasis in children.


– Industrial uses: Used for the preparation of paints, varnishes, and linoleum. Oil extracted from the seed can be used for illumination and soap manufacture.
– Wood preservation: Oil from the nut reported to protect canoes against marine borer damage.
– Kukui oil reported to protect cotton bolls from the boll weevil and prevent feeding by the striped cucumber beetle.
– Cosmetics: Kukui seed oil is used in the manufacture of various cosmetic products – moisturizers, anti-aging creams, body oils, conditioners, lip gloss, shampoos, etc.
– Fodder: After removal of the oil, the remaining seed cake can be used as cattle fodder. Alternatively, the seed cake can be used as fertilizer.
– Ornamental: In Hawaii, empty shells strung to make a popular lei.
– Dye: In Hawaii, seed husk used to make a black dye for tattooing; the root bark used to make a dye for painting canoes.

Toxicity concerns 
– Candle nuts are toxic when eaten raw.
– This blogspot (Candlenut Poison Antidote) offers alternative folkloric antidotes: coconut cream or water, turmeric, grape skin extract pill, almonds, fish oil, among others. Besides sharing these folkloric remedies, the author also shares his experience with candle nut toxicity.

Study Findings
• Flavonoids: Chitin chromatographic separation yielded two flavonoids from AM extract: swertisin and 2″-O-rhamnosylswertisin.
• Anti-Inflammatory / Antipyretic: Study on the methanolic extract of dried leaves of AM significantly prevented an increase in volume of paw edema in a dose-dependent manner. It also caused an antipyretic effect. Results justifies the ethnic uses of the plant.
• Hypolipidemic Activity: Study of the methanol extract of leaves showed a lipid lowering effect mediated through inhibition of hepatic cholesterol biosynthesis and reduction of lipid absorption in the intestine.
• Anti-Termite Activity: Study on the Formosan termite (Coptotermes formosanus) showed that oil-treated wood was resistant to termite damage when the wood contained >27% kukui oil by weight. Results indicate that the oil acted primarily as a feeding deterrent and not as a toxic agent.
• Antinociceptive: Study on a spray dried extract (SDE) of leaves isolated flavonoids swertisin and 2′′-O-rhamnosylswertisin which were effective in inhibiting the hypernociceptive response induced by carrageenan.
• Termite Study: Study on kukul plant oil for termite control properties showed the oil acted primarily as a feeding deterrent and not as a toxic agent.
• Antinociceptive / Phytochemicals: Fractions yielded phenolic compounds, n-hentriacontane, α-amyrin, β-amyrin, stigmasterol, β-sitosterol and campesterol. Compounds inhibited acetic-induced abdominal constrictions, more efficaciously than aspirin and paracetamol. Results showed potent antinociceptive action.
• Flavonoid 2″-O-rhamnosylswertisin / Antinociceptive: Study evaluated a dried extract of A. moluccana and the isolated flavonoid 2″-O-rhamnosylswertsin on different models of long-lasting inflammation and neuropathic pain in mice. Oral treatment with the extract and isolated compound attenuated neutrophil migration and IL-1ß levels following carrageenan injection.
• Podocarpane Trinorditerpenoids / Cytotoxicity: Study of twigs and leaves of Aleurites moluccana yielded three novel 3,4-seco-podocarpane-type trinorditerpenoids, moluccanic acid, moluccanic acid methyl ester, and 6,7-dehydromoluccanic acid. In cytotoxicity studies, 1-3 showed weak activity against Burkitt’s lymphoma cell line, while compound 2 showed moderate cytotoxic activity against HepG2 (hepatocellular carcinoma) human cell line.
• Wound Healing / Bark: Study evaluated the wound healing activity of the bark of Aleurites moluccana in three types of rat models viz. excision, incision, and burn wound model. Results showed remarkable wound healing activity, comparable to standard drug nitrofurazone in terms of wound contracting ability, wound closure time, and tensile strength.
• Antibacterial: Aleurites moluccana extracts have shown inhibitory activity against S. aureus and P. aeruginosa. Study further investigated the antibacterial activity of acetonitrile, extracts of husk, leaf and stem bark against 8 clinical isolates. The antibacterial action was bactericidal for all bacteria except S. pyogenes where it was bacteriostatic. The highest polyphenol content was found in the methanol extract of stem bark.
• Biodiesel: Study investigated the production of methyl ester for use as biodiesel. The biodiesel produced had properties similar to diesel oil except for a higher viscosity. Study concluded that biodiesel production by ethanolysis of candlenut oil can be done under ambient conditions. The biodiesel product has comparable fuel properties with diesel oil and is a suitable alternative to diesel oil.
• Antinociceptive / Anti-Inflammatory / Wound Healing: Study of a semisolid formulation containing 0.5 to 1.0% of saturated dried extract was found effective for topical use in treatment of pain, inflammation, and wound healing.
• α,β-Amyrenone / Anti-Inflammatory / Antihypersensitivity: A mixture of α,β-amyrenone was isolated from a dichlormethane fraction of A. moluccana and evaluated using a carrageenan-induced paw edema or pleurisy and CFA-induced arthritis models in mice. Results showed α,β-amyrenoneinterferes with both acute and chronic inflammatory processes, in part, through a reduction of neutrophil migration. It suggests α,β-amyrenone could be a new therapeutic tool for use in painful and inflammatory diseases.