Kampala Tree and Palm Directory

Tree Species
Common Name
Tree Description
Tree Uses

English: Candle-nuttree, candleberry, Indian walnut tree Luganda: Kabakanjagala

+ Tree Species

Aleurites moluccana

+ Tree Family

Eupborbiaceae

+ Ecology

A tree growing on hillside forests of S.E. Asia and the Pacific islands where its pale foliage stands out from the darker green vegetation. ("Aleuron" is a Greek word meaning floury.) Well known and used in those areas and imported into Hawaii where it is the national tree emblem, it is now planted throughout the tropics. It grows well in the wetter parts of Uganda and is a garden favorite in Central Region. In Kampala, Candle-nut tree can be found along Kabakanjagala road, Bombo Road, Nakasero hill road, within Makerere university, Uganda Golf course club among other places.

+ Description

A. moluccanus is a medium-sized evergreen tree, reaching 20 m tall, with a diameter at breast height of up to 90cm. It has a large, spreading crown, and often has irregular branches, frequently spreading wide or drooping downwards to ground level. The tree is distinctive from a distance due to the silvery–green colour of the leaves caused by a thick covering of stellate hairs, which often diminishes as the leaf ages.

BARK: grey-brown, fairly smooth with fine vertical lines.

LEAVES: in clusters at the ends of branches, hand sized, 10-30 cm long, ovalor 3-5 lobed, tips pointed, on long stalks. Young leaves pink green, young shoots and leaves covered with grey-white hairs, white floury above, more rust colored below.  Mature leaves shiny above.

FLOWERS: in large loose heads, male and female, each cream-white, less than 1 cm, with 5 oblong petals. Flowering may be several times each year.

FRUIT: clusters of nuts, greenand round, fleshy to 6 cm long, with 1-2 hard-shelled blackseeds containing oil.

+ Uses

Provides shade.

Can be used for fuel or firewood.

Used as an ornamental tree.

Bark is used to make an infusion that preserves fishing nets.

The wood is not resistant to rot but can be used as an effective substrate for growing mushrooms, as low-quality fuel, or for making floats or short-lived canoes.

The sap has been used to waterproof cloth.

The leaves have been used in poultices, or in leis (garlands), either with or without the flowers.

The empty seed shells can be used to make jewellery.

The empty seed shells can be burned to produce soot that can be used in tattooing and dyeing.

An oil can be extracted from the seeds which is used for protecting cotton bolls from insect attack, as a laxative or general folk remedy, for preserving surfboards, for waterproofing paper, in making varnishes and paints, or which can be burnt for illumination.

Agroforestry: the remaining seed cake can be used for animal fodder or as fertilizer, can be planted as a living fence or windbreak.

Cooked nuts are generally edible, although some strains contain high amounts of cyanide.

The nut is pressed for its oil, which is used for a variety of industrial purposes like soap making, varnishes, and fuel.

Medicine: nut oil is sometimes used medicinally similar to castor oil, as well as a laxative.

 

+ Propagation

Seed, wildings, cuttings.

+ Management

Coppices when young and responds to pollarding when old, it's fast growing. Grows easily from seed and has become invasive in wetter parts of the country.

+ Remarks

Plant as a back-yard tree for firewood. Investigation is required on the extraction and use of oil from the seeds. After removing the hard outer coat, the seed is pounded and eaten as a sauce. The oil is semi-drying and can be used for soap, paint and varnish but is much inferior to Tung oil. (Tung oil, which is used mainly for varnishing wood, is extracted from a related Chinese species, A. fordii.).

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