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Aleurites (moluccana)

Kim Wilkinson
Craig Elevitch
Permanent Agriculture Resources
P.O. Box 428
Holualoa, Hawaii 96725
808-324-4129 (fax)

Family Scientific Name: Euphorbiaceae
Family Common Name: Spurge
Scientific Name: Aleurites moluccana (L.) Willd.
Common Name: Candlenut, Candleberry, Varnish tree, Indian or Belgaum walnut, kukui (Hawaii); lauci, sikeci (Fiji); tuitui (Tonga; Cooks); lama (Samoa); tutu'i; ti'a'iri (Societies); 'ama (Marquesas)
Ecotype: Widely adapted 0 - 700 m elevation
General Distribution: Native to Malesia, now widespread throughout the tropics. Widely spread throughout the Pacific Islands by the early inhabitants. Present on many Pacific Islands including all main Hawaiian Islands; also, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Malagasy, Sri Lanka, southern India, Bangladesh, Brazil, West Indies, and Gulf Coast of United States.
Known Invasiveness: This species is widely introduced throughout other tropical regions of the world where it may be invasive in some areas and invasiveness outside its naturally occurring range is unknown.
Propagation Goal: plants
Propagation Method: seed
ProductType: Container (plug)
Time To Grow: 0
Target Specifications: Height: 25 cm, stem diameter: 12mm
Propagule Collection: Kukui flowers and fruits intermittently throughout the year.
Propagule Processing: Mature seeds can be picked from the tree or collected from the ground. Allow the fruits to decay a few days, then peel off the thick, leathery outer husk. This will expose the hard shell that encloses the seed. There are about 100-120 seeds (with shells on) per kilogram. Bad seeds can be removed by floating in water. Seeds are apparently orthodox, and can be stored for several months when dried to 10-12% moisture content.
Pre-Planting Treatments: Untreated seeds germinate in about 4 months. Sun warming in a moist medium is thought to hasten and improve germination. Cracking the seed coat (shell) and soaking overnight in water may hasten germination.
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:
Kukui seeds can grow in moderate shade, however full sun also works and may hasten germination. If seeds are germinated first in a bed, transplant when the seeds just begin to germinate (as seed cracks open due to germination).
Because kukui germinants have a large, thick tap root, it's recommended that seedlings are grown in 1/2 gallon or 1 gallon root training containers. Options include Deepots (Tall Ones, available from Steuwe & Sons), s (Carl Whitcomb), or copper-coated poly bags. A well-drained potting media such as 50% Sunshine peat moss, 25% perlite, 25% vermiculite, amended with a little compost, dolomite lime, gypsum, and slow-release fertilizer such as osmocote 14-14-14 is used. Potting media should also be inoculated with VAM (mycorrhizal fungi).
Establishment Phase: Pregerminated seeds or emergents are transplanted into containers filled with premoistened potting media and covered with about 5mm of potting media. Partial shade is preferred following germination, although full sun works. Daily water is usually necessary, by hand or with an automated system.
Length of Establishment Phase: 4 weeks
Active Growth Phase: Seedlings can be grown in light shade or full sun. Keep the seedlings well-spaced to allow penetration of sunlight and air circulation. In some cases, amending with additional fertilizer such as a light top dressing of Gro-More 8-8-8 will aid in growth and development.
Length of Active Growth Phase: 3 - 4 months
Hardening Phase: Move seedlings to full sun conditions. Space seedlings out further if necessary. Seedlings should never be allowed to dry out, but watering frequency may be reduced to introduce seedlings to temporary, moderate water stress. If fertilization is necessary during the hardening phase, N fertilizer should be minimized or eliminated, with emphasis on P, K, and micronutrients.
Length of Hardening Phase: 2 - 4 weeks
Harvesting, Storage and Shipping: When seedlings have reached target size, they may be delivered to the planting site. Seedlings must be protected from wind and excessive heat during transport, but refrigeration is not recommended. The container should be cut off to reduce damage to the root system.
References: Duke, James A. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. Web: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Aleurites_moluccana.html

Little, Elbert L. and Roger G. Skolmen. 1989. Common Forest Trees of Hawai`i (Native and Introduced). United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Agriculture Handbook 679.

USDA. 1974. Seeds of Woody Plants in the United States (USDA Agric. Handbk. 450). Web: http://wpsm.net/Genera.htm


Elevitch, Craig R.; Wilkinson, Kim M.. 2004. Propagation protocol for production of Container (plug) Aleurites moluccana (L.) Willd. plants Permanent Agriculture Resources Holualoa, Hawaii. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://NativePlantNetwork.org (accessed 2021/07/27). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources.

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