Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: 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)

7 members have or want this plant for trade.


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
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

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

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

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There are a total of 18 photos.
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2 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral hselrahc 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?

Positive gilbertBright 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

Positive punaheledp 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 probably brought to Hawaii by early polynesian settlers. Official tree of the State of Hawaii and island flower of Molokai. One of the most important plants of the old Hawaiians, the kukui was used for light, canoes, fishing, tanning, leis, catching birds, and as a source of food, medicine and dye. The pale green foliage of kukui trees, which commonly grow at the head of hanging valleys, stands out from great distances.

Neutral palmbob 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.


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

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