Plant Spotlight: Candlenut Tree
August 20, 2009
by Dick Dutton, Estates Plant Curator
Candlenut Tree, Aleurites moluccana, Euphorbiaceae, Old and New World Tropics
The Candlenut tree is the state tree of Hawaii. It is one of the few trees that has a motto: “Peace, Security and Enlightenment.” The Candlenut tree can grow to 75 feet tall, bears walnut-size nuts and has evergreen leaves resembling the maple in shape.
Parts of the nut are used for cooking, traditional medicine, and soaps. Ancient Hawaiians used the nuts to provide light by stringing them in a row on a palm leaf midrib, lighting one end, and burning them one by one approximately every fifteen minutes. This led to their use as a measure of time, as one could instruct someone to return home before the second nut burned out.
There are three trees growing on the Edison and Ford Winter Estates. Candlenut trees are available for sale at the Garden Shoppe.