Candlenut ( Aleurites moluccana (L.) Willd ) is one of the multipurpose trees that have been cultivated widely in the world. Based on various sources, candlenut is native to Indo-Malaysia and has been introduced to the Pacific Islands since ancient times.
In Indonesia, candlenut is known by many local names including, kembiri, gambiri, hambiri (Batak), kemili (Gayo), kemiling (Lampung), kareh fruit (Minangkabau, Nias), keminting (Dayak), muncang (Sundanese) and miri ( Java). Candlenut is a medium-sized tree with a wide canopy. This plant can reach a height of up to 20 m and a diameter of up to 90 cm. In the open, this species can generally only reach a tree height of 10–15 m.
Generally, the shape of the candlenut tree branches is winding, irregular stretches wide, and hangs on the side branches. The bark is gray-brown and slightly smooth with vertical stripes. The leaves are easily recognized by their distinctive shape, generally consisting of 3–5 leaves from the base, alternating and wavy leaf edges. The stalks give off a sweet sap.
Candlenut flowers are greenish-white, fragrant, and arranged in clusters 10–15 cm long, where there are many small male flowers surrounding the female flowers. The flower crown is white with five dull-white petals (cream), oval-shaped with a length of 1.3 cm. Candlenuts are green to brownish in color, oval to round with a length of 5–6 cm, and a width of 5–7 cm. One candlenut generally contains 2-3 seeds, but the male fruit may only find one seed.
Candlenut seeds can be eaten if they are roasted first. Candlenut seed coat is generally rough, black, hard, and elliptical about 2.5–3.5 cm (Elevitch and Manner 2006).versatile treeLeft: candlenut. Right: peeled and dried candlenut seeds.
Almost all parts of the candlenut tree such as leaves, fruit, bark, stems, roots, sap, and flowers can be used. Its use is for traditional medicines, lighting, building materials, coloring materials, food ingredients, decorations, and various other uses (Heyne 1987).
Candlenut contains saponins, flavonoids, and polyphenols. The meat contains oil and the cortex contains tannins. However, the candlenut tree also has poisonous properties so caution is needed if you want to use other tree parts for medicinal or consumption purposes.
Quoted in the book “ Aleurites moluccana (L.) Willd. , Ecology, Silviculture and Productivity "published by CIFOR (2011) explains, in Java, the bark of the candlenut tree is used as a medicine for diarrhea (dysentery).
As in Sumatra, candlenut seeds are believed to be able to overcome constipation by pounding and burning with charcoal then rubbing it around the navel (stomach).In other countries, such as Japan, the skin of the hazelnut is used to treat tumors.
In Malaysia, candlenut leaves are boiled and used as a medicine for headaches, fever, ulcers, swelling of the joints, and gonorrhea. In Hawaii, freshly tapped candlenut flowers and sap are used to treat thrush in children (Scott and Craig 2000).
Dry candlenut seeds are also commonly used as a cooking ingredient in Indonesia and Malaysia. The crushed pecan seeds can also be used as a substitute for soap. In addition, hazelnut is used as a hair growth stimulant or as an additive in hair care.
Currently, high-quality hazelnut oil has become the main commercial product and is widely sold in the cosmetics industry. Furthermore, the remaining oil-extracted seeds can be used as fertilizer (Elevitch and Manner 2006).