Flora of the Hawaiian Islands
Dicotyledon Literature for Aleurites moluccana
Wagner et al., 1990, 1999; Lorence & Wagner, 2020.
   Euphorbiaceae -- The Spurge Family Bibliography
      Aleurites moluccana

Common name(s): candlenut, kuikui, kukui
General Information
DistributionNative from northern Australia to Malesia, although its precise native range is essentially impossible to determine because of its early spread by man, now widespread in many tropical areas.In the Hawaiian Islands, a Polynesian introduction on Ni`ihau, Kaua`i, O`ahu, Moloka`i, Lana`i, Maui, Hawai`i.

Spreading tree, 10–20 m tall; branches and leaves pubescent with stellate hairs at least on younger parts.
Leaves usually pale green, petiolate; blade variable in shape, broadly ovate to rhomboid, cordate, or lanceolate, (7–)14–40(–61) cm long, (2.5–)8–15(–31) cm wide, pubescent with stellate hairs, especially on abaxial surface and when young, 3–5(–7) lobed or rarely unlobed, apex long acuminate, base truncate, cordate, or sometimes broadly cuneate; petiole (5.5–)10–16(–19) cm long.
Inflorescences a terminal, paniculate cyme usually 10–15 cm long, pubescent with stellate hairs, flowers numerous. Staminate flowers with calyx ca. 3 mm long, petals white, 6–8 mm long, stamens 15–20, in 4 series; pistillate flowers with calyx ca. 6 mm long, petals white, 7–10 mm long, ovary bilocular, ovules 1 per locule.
Fruit subglobose, 50–60(–70) mm in diameter, slightly compressed laterally, with 4 shallow furrows, indehiscent.
Seeds 1–2, (2.3–)3–4 cm in diameter, brown to black, seed coat thick and very hard.
2n = 22, 44.
According to Brown (1935) the oily nuts of ‘ama had many uses, some widespread and some more restricted in the Pacific. Torches were made from the seeds strung on coconut leaf midribs, ash from slowly burnt nuts was used in tattooing, and nuts were also used in obtaining a dark reddish color dye for tapa. A mash from green fruits was used as a treatment for skin disease as well, and the fruits were apparently used as a diuretic and in obstetrics. Sometimes nuts were eaten in small quantities after roasting over a fire. Because the seeds contain saponin and phorbol, they are mildly toxic when raw.
Nancy Khan