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Candlenut Tree, Varnish Tree, Kukui, Indian Walnut, Candleberry Tree

Aleurites moluccana

Family: Euphorbiaceae (yoo-for-bee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Aleurites (al-yoor-RY-teez) (Info)
Species: moluccana (mol-oo-SAN-uh) (Info)



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


over 40 ft. (12 m)


over 40 ft. (12 m)


USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Seed is poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:



Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer


Grown for foliage


Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Direct sow as soon as the ground can be worked

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:


Fort Myers, Florida

Kissimmee, Florida

Merritt Island, Florida

Naples, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida

Ahuimanu, Hawaii

Kailua, Hawaii

Kilauea, Hawaii

Kurtistown, Hawaii

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 23, 2013, hselrahc from Kalihiwai, HI wrote:

Planted several small kukui trees. All grew rapidly to 6 to 15 feet, when they flowered and produced fruit (nuts). Then they stopped growing, their leaves reduced in size, and they became ugly. Some died. What's up with this?


On May 10, 2010, gilbertBright from West Palm Beach, FL wrote:

this is a very fast growing tree, this one is 35 years old. When the nuts fall off they will sprout on their own without doing anything


On Jul 6, 2004, punaheledp from Kailua, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

The kukui are very nice trees, they stand out on the hillside or in valleys because of their light green folliage. I had one in my yard, but finally took it out last year. While they are pretty trees, and I highly valued it's shade, They get HUGE, and the root system was verging on distructive even though the tree was a good 50' from lanai. (Yes, fast growing, and apparently easy to grow from seed as am still getting seedlings sprouting up from hidden nuts eventhough the tree came down last Nov). Perhaps called candle nut because oil from nut used to make torches? The seeds are often sanded to remove ridges, polished and made into leis. I copied some interesting info from UH site below:

Aleurites moluccana, Euphorbiaceae, kukui, candle nut tree. A polynesian tree probab... read more


On Dec 25, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

THis is a fast growing tree, used in the tropics as a source of oil and dye. It is known for its abiliy to grow in poor soils. This is a native to Malaysia, New Guinea and Australia. Saw it growing in Hawaii, too.