Invasive Species Compendium

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Datasheet

Aleurites moluccanus
(candlenut tree)

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Datasheet

Aleurites moluccanus (candlenut tree)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 30 April 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Aleurites moluccanus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • candlenut tree
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • A. moluccanus, native to the Indo-Malaya region, is a distinctive medium-sized tree, recognisable by its silvery green leaves. It has been intentionally introduced, and is subsequently, widespread throughout th...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); tree habit. Hana Highway, Maui., Hawaii.  June 18, 2009
TitleTree habit
CaptionAleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); tree habit. Hana Highway, Maui., Hawaii. June 18, 2009
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); tree habit. Hana Highway, Maui., Hawaii.  June 18, 2009
Tree habitAleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); tree habit. Hana Highway, Maui., Hawaii. June 18, 2009©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); typical yhabit in a grove. Honomanu Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii,  June 18, 2009
TitleTypical habit in a grove
CaptionAleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); typical yhabit in a grove. Honomanu Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii, June 18, 2009
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); typical yhabit in a grove. Honomanu Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii,  June 18, 2009
Typical habit in a groveAleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); typical yhabit in a grove. Honomanu Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii, June 18, 2009©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); trunk. Iao, Maui, Hawaii. April 30, 2010
TitleTrunk and bark
CaptionAleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); trunk. Iao, Maui, Hawaii. April 30, 2010
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); trunk. Iao, Maui, Hawaii. April 30, 2010
Trunk and barkAleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); trunk. Iao, Maui, Hawaii. April 30, 2010©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); foliage. Kula Botanical Garden, Maui.  March 07, 2011
TitleFoliage
CaptionAleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); foliage. Kula Botanical Garden, Maui. March 07, 2011
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); foliage. Kula Botanical Garden, Maui.  March 07, 2011
FoliageAleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); foliage. Kula Botanical Garden, Maui. March 07, 2011©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); Fruits and foliage. Wahinepee, Maui, Hawaii.  August 03, 2002
TitleFruits and foliage
CaptionAleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); Fruits and foliage. Wahinepee, Maui, Hawaii. August 03, 2002
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); Fruits and foliage. Wahinepee, Maui, Hawaii.  August 03, 2002
Fruits and foliage Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); Fruits and foliage. Wahinepee, Maui, Hawaii. August 03, 2002©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); flowers at Keopuolani Park, Maui.  July 03, 2006
TitleFlowers
CaptionAleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); flowers at Keopuolani Park, Maui. July 03, 2006
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); flowers at Keopuolani Park, Maui.  July 03, 2006
FlowersAleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); flowers at Keopuolani Park, Maui. July 03, 2006©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); beach flotsam at Kanaha Beach, Maui. March 23, 2004
TitleFruits as beach flotsam
CaptionAleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); beach flotsam at Kanaha Beach, Maui. March 23, 2004
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); beach flotsam at Kanaha Beach, Maui. March 23, 2004
Fruits as beach flotsamAleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); beach flotsam at Kanaha Beach, Maui. March 23, 2004©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); mature tree habit.
TitleMature Tree
CaptionAleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); mature tree habit.
Copyright©Rafael T. Cadiz
Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); mature tree habit.
Mature TreeAleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); mature tree habit.©Rafael T. Cadiz
Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); wildlings.
TitleWildlings
CaptionAleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); wildlings.
Copyright©Rafael T. Cadiz
Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); wildlings.
WildlingsAleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); wildlings.©Rafael T. Cadiz
Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); wildling.
TitleWildling
CaptionAleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); wildling.
Copyright©Rafael T. Cadiz
Aleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); wildling.
WildlingAleurites moluccanus (kukui, kukui nut); wildling.©Rafael T. Cadiz

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Aleurites moluccanus (L.) Willd.

Preferred Common Name

  • candlenut tree

Other Scientific Names

  • Aleurites ambinux Pers
  • Aleurites angustifolius Vieill
  • Aleurites commutata Geiseler
  • Aleurites cordifolia Steud
  • Aleurites cordifolius (Gaertn.) Steud.
  • Aleurites erratica O. Deg., I. Deg. & K. Hummel
  • Aleurites integrifolia Vieill. ex Guillaumin
  • Aleurites integrifolius Vieill.
  • Aleurites javanicus Gand.
  • Aleurites lanceolatus Blanco
  • Aleurites lobatus Blanco
  • Aleurites moluccana (L.) Willd.
  • Aleurites moluccanus var. aulanii O.Deg. & I.Deg.
  • Aleurites moluccanus var. floccosa Airy Shaw
  • Aleurites moluccanus var. katoi O.Deg., I.Deg. & Stone
  • Aleurites moluccanus var. remyi (Sherff) Stone
  • Aleurites moluccanus var. serotina O.Deg. & Sherff
  • Aleurites moluccanus var. serotinus O. Deg. & Sherff
  • Aleurites remyi Sherff
  • Aleurites trilobus J. R. Forst. & G. Forst.
  • Camirium cordifolium Gaertn
  • Camirium moluccanum (L.) Ktze.
  • Camirium oleosum Reinw. ex Blume
  • Camirium oleosum Reinw. ex Müll. Arg.
  • Dryandra oleifera Lam.
  • Jatropha moluccana L.
  • Juglans camirium Lour
  • Mallotus moluccanus (L.) Müll.Arg.
  • Manihot moluccana (L.) Crantz
  • Ricinus dicoccus Roxb.
  • Rottlera moluccana (L.) Scheff.
  • Telopea perspicua Sol. ex Seem.

International Common Names

  • English: balucanat; Belgaum walnut; candle nut tree; candleberry; candlenut; candlenut oil tree; Candle-nut tree; Indian walnut; kukui nut; lumbangtree; Otaheite walnut; varnish tree; varnishtree
  • Spanish: Arbol de la cera; arbol llorón; avellano; avellano criollo; camirio; nogal de la India; nuez
  • French: aleurites; bancoulier; Bancoulier des Moluques; noisette; noix; noyer; noyer de bancoul; noyer des Indes; noyer des Moluques; noyer des Moluques
  • Chinese: shi li
  • Portuguese: calumbàn; lumbàn; noz da India

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: nogueira-de-igape; noz-da-índia; saboneteira
  • Cook Islands: tuitui
  • Cuba: árbol de la luz; nogal prieto; nogel de jardín
  • Fiji: lauci; nggerenggere; sikeci; sikeli; sikethi; toto; tuitui; tutui; waiwai
  • French Polynesia: ama; rama; tahii; tahiri; ti'a'iri; tiaiti; tuitui; tutu'i
  • Germany: Kerzennussbaum; Lichtnussbaum
  • Greece/Crete: lerit
  • Guam: lumbang
  • Indonesia: anoi; berau; bontalo dudulaa; boyau; buwa kare; kamere; kamiri; kembiri; kemili; kemiling; keminting; kemiri; kemwiri; kereh; komere; kumiri; lana; madang ijo; mi; midi; miri; muncang; nena; nyenga; pidekan; saketa; tanoan; tenu; wiau
  • Indonesia/Sumatra: kemiri
  • Italy: Albero della vernice
  • Micronesia, Federated states of: raguar; sakan; shakan
  • Niue: tuitui
  • Palau: sakan
  • Philippines: biau; kalumban; kami; kapili; lumbang; rumbang
  • Portugal: calumban; noz da India
  • Puerto Rico: nogal; nuez de la India; palo de nuez
  • Samoa: lama
  • Spain: arbol lloron; avellano; avellano criollo; nogal de la India; nuez
  • Tonga: tuitui
  • USA/Hawaii: kuikui; kukui
  • Vanuatu: kandeltri
  • Wallis and Futuna Islands: tuitui

EPPO code

  • ALEMO (Aleurites moluccana)

Trade name

  • tung

Summary of Invasiveness

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A. moluccanus, native to the Indo-Malaya region, is a distinctive medium-sized tree, recognisable by its silvery green leaves. It has been intentionally introduced, and is subsequently, widespread throughout the tropics. The species has occasionally escaped from cultivation into the wild, most prominently in Hawaii, but also in the Dominican Republic, Florida and sites in New South Wales, Queensland and Christmas Island (University of Queensland, 2011). It is reported to be invasive on American Samoa, the Cook Islands, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Niue, Pitcairn, Samoa, Tonga, Singapore and Mayotte and to be a pest in parts of Australia, including Christmas Island (Kairo et al., 2003; University of Queensland, 2011; PIER, 2013).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Euphorbiales
  •                         Family: Euphorbiaceae
  •                             Genus: Aleurites
  •                                 Species: Aleurites moluccanus

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Aleurites moluccanus, the 'candlenut tree', is a culturally significant species of tree in the genus Aleurites of the family Euphorbiaceae. The genus contains two species: A. moluccanus (L.) Willd and Aleurites rockinghamensis (Baill.) P.I.Forst. The economically important tung oil tree, A. fordii, which was widely planted in South America and elsewhere during the twentieth century (Arce and Paull, 2008) is now recognized in the genus Vernicia.

The species was described by Carl Linnaeus in his 1753 work Species Plantarum as two species in separate genera: Croton moluccanus and Jatropha moluccana. The two names are now considered synonyms, with the name in Croton being disregarded (Stuppy et al., 1999). When the genus Aleurites was erected by naturalists Johann Reinhold Forster and Georg Forster, they nominated Aleurites triloba to be the type species. This is a junior subjective synonym of A. moluccanus. A range of other synonyms exist for A. moluccanus, as well as several nomina nuda.

The name Aleurites derives from a Greek word meaning floury, in reference to the underside of the leaves. A. moluccanus is morphologically variable, and a number of taxa have been recognised as various ranks, from varieties to separate species. Although none were accepted as valid by Stuppy et al. (1999), listed varieties of the species may include A. moluccanus var. aulanii, A. moluccanus var. floccose, A. moluccanus var. katoi, A. moluccanus var. remyi, A. moluccanus var. serotina and A. moluccanus var. serotinus. Due to its cultural significance and broad geographical range, A. moluccanus is known by a great variety of vernacular names. In English it is generally known as the 'candlenut tree' or 'Indian walnut', or by its Hawaiian name, kukui.

Description

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A. moluccanus is a medium-sized 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 (Scott and Thomas, 2000) due to the silvery–green colour of the leaves. This pale colour is caused by a thick covering of stellate hairs, which often diminishes as the leaf ages.

The leaves are very distinctively shaped but also quite variable in gross morphology. Young leaves and leaves on lower branches are often three-lobed or five-lobed, while older leaves and those on higher branches, tend to be a simpler triangular or oval shape. They are typically 10–20cm long with wavy margins, and are arranged alternately. Where the leaf stalk joins the blade of the leaf, there are a pair of glands that produce a sweet secretion.

Flowers are in terminal cymes, each about 10–15cm long. Each female flower is surrounded by several smaller male flowers. The female (pistillate) flowers are up to 13mm long, with five separate creamy–white petals. The male (staminate) flowers are similar to the pistillate flowers, but are longer and thinner. The fruit are hard, round drupes, about 5–6 cm long and 5–7 cm wide. The seeds are contained within a tough black shell that resembles that of a walnut; de-husked seeds number approximately 100–120 per kilogram (Elevitch and Manner, 2006).

Distribution

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A. moluccanus was introduced aboriginally throughout the Pacific Islands and is now a common tree of the Pacific. To the Polynesians it is an important cultural tree, and they transported it across much of South-east Asia and Oceania in prehistoric times as a so-called “canoe plant”. This ancient transportation makes it difficult to distinguish between the natural range of the species and the areas where it has been introduced by man. Therefore, there is some debate as to the limits of its true native range. Its native distribution is, however, reported as centred on the Indo-Malaya region, and probably extends from Myanmar and China throughout the Malay Archipelago, and as far east as French Polynesia (PIER, 2013).

As an introduced species, A. moluccanus is now widespread across the tropics, being found in Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda, Madagascar, the Comoros, South Africa, Brazil and many islands in the Caribbean (Elevitch and Manner, 2006; Oyen, 2007), and has even been planted on isolated oceanic islands such as Pitcairn and St Helena (Varnham, 2006). In Brazil, it is abundant in southern and south-eastern states, from São Paulo to Rio Grande do Sul (Quintão et al., 2011). In Hawaii, A. moluccanus is widespread, and has been designated as the official state tree (Little and Skolmen, 2003).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes

Asia

BangladeshPresentIntroducedKrisnawati et al., 2011
Brunei DarussalamPresentNativeKrisnawati et al., 2011
CambodiaPresentNativeKrisnawati et al., 2011; USDA-ARS, 2012
ChinaPresentNative Planted Oyen, 2007
-FujianPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-GuangdongPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-GuangxiPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-HainanPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-Hong KongPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER, 2013
-YunnanPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)PresentIntroduced Invasive Govaerts, 2014
IndiaPresentNative Planted Oyen, 2007
-AssamPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2012
-KarnatakaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2012
-KeralaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2012
-MaharashtraPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2012
-OdishaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2012
-Tamil NaduPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2012
-West BengalPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2012
IndonesiaPresentNativePlanted, NaturalKrisnawati et al., 2011; USDA-ARS, 2012
-KalimantanPresentNativeGovaerts, 2014
-SulawesiPresentNativeGovaerts, 2014; Govaerts, 2014
JapanPresentIntroducedKrisnawati et al., 2011
LaosPresentNativeKrisnawati et al., 2011
MalaysiaPresentNativePlanted, NaturalKrisnawati et al., 2011; USDA-ARS, 2012
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentNativeGovaerts, 2014
-SabahPresentNativeGovaerts, 2014
-SarawakPresentNativeGovaerts, 2014
MaldivesPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013Malè Atoll
MyanmarPresentNativeKrisnawati et al., 2011; USDA-ARS, 2012
PhilippinesPresentNativePlanted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2012
SingaporePresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013
Sri LankaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2012
TaiwanPresentNative Planted USDA-ARS, 2012
ThailandPresentNativeKrisnawati et al., 2011; USDA-ARS, 2012
VietnamPresentNativeKrisnawati et al., 2011; USDA-ARS, 2012

Africa

ComorosPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedOyen, 2007
Congo Democratic RepublicPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Planted Oyen, 2007
GabonPresentIntroducedORSTOM, 1988
KenyaPresentIntroduced Planted Krisnawati et al., 2011
MadagascarPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedOyen, 2007
MayottePresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013
RwandaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2014
South AfricaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Planted Oyen, 2007KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga
TanzaniaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedOyen, 2007
UgandaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Planted Oyen, 2007

North America

MexicoPresentIntroducedPérez et al., 2005
USAPresentIntroducedKrisnawati et al., 2011
-FloridaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
-HawaiiWidespreadIntroducedPlanted, NaturalOyen, 2007

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroducedKrisnawati et al., 2011
BahamasPresentIntroducedKrisnawati et al., 2011
BarbadosPresentIntroducedKrisnawati et al., 2011
Costa RicaPresentIntroducedBurger and Huft, 1995
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Krisnawati et al., 2011Naturalized
DominicaPresentIntroducedICRAF, 2012
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroduced Invasive Krisnawati et al., 2011
GrenadaPresentIntroducedKrisnawati et al., 2011
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedKrisnawati et al., 2011
HaitiPresentIntroducedKrisnawati et al., 2011
HondurasPresentIntroducedMolina, 1975
JamaicaPresentIntroduced Planted Krisnawati et al., 2011
MartiniquePresentIntroducedKrisnawati et al., 2011
MontserratPresentIntroducedKrisnawati et al., 2011
Netherlands AntillesPresentIntroducedKrisnawati et al., 2011
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedKrisnawati et al., 2011
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentIntroducedKrisnawati et al., 2011
Saint LuciaPresentIntroducedKrisnawati et al., 2011
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroducedKrisnawati et al., 2011
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroducedKrisnawati et al., 2011
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedKrisnawati et al., 2011

South America

BrazilPresentIntroducedKrisnawati et al., 2011
-CearaPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2014
-ParanaPresentIntroducedQuintão et al., 2011; Quintão et al., 2011
-Rio Grande do SulPresentIntroducedQuintão et al., 2011
-Santa CatarinaPresentIntroducedQuintão et al., 2011; Quintão et al., 2011
-Sao PauloPresentIntroducedQuintão et al., 2011
EcuadorPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013San Cristóbal Island
ParaguayPresentIntroduced Invasive IABIN, 2014

Oceania

American SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive Space and Flynn, 2000Reported as an aboriginal introduction and an invasive species on Tau Island, Tutuila Island
AustraliaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2012
-New South WalesPresentUniversity of Queensland, 2011Escaped cultivation and recognised as a weed
-QueenslandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2012
Cook IslandsPresent Invasive Space and Flynn, 2002; Krisnawati et al., 2011; PIER, 2013Present on many islands but reported as aboriginal introductions and invasive on Mangaia Island, Ma‘uke Island, Miti'aro Island and Rarotonga Island
FijiPresent Invasive Smith, 1981; Krisnawati et al., 2011; PIER, 2013Present on many islands but reported as introduced and invasive on Kandavu Island, Koro Island, Lakemba Island, Ovalau Island, Taveuni Island, Vanua Levu Island and Viti Levu Island. Most reported as aboriginal introductions
French PolynesiaPresent Invasive Krisnawati et al., 2011; PIER, 2013Reported as native to some islands but introduced and invasive on many. Mainly cited as aboriginal introductions
GuamPresentIntroducedPIER, 2013Aboriginal introduction. Cultivated
KiribatiPresentNativeKrisnawati et al., 2011
Marshall IslandsPresentNativeKrisnawati et al., 2011
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresent Invasive Smith, 1981; PIER, 2013Possibly introduced to some parts of Pohnpei Island where it is invasive. Native to Yap (Waqab) Island
New CaledoniaPresentNative Invasive MacKee, 1994; Krisnawati et al., 2011; PIER, 2013Aboriginal introduction
New ZealandPresentNativeOyen, 2007
NiuePresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013Aboriginal introduction
Norfolk IslandPresentNativeKrisnawati et al., 2011
PalauPresentPIER, 2013
Papua New GuineaPresentNativePlanted, NaturalKrisnawati et al., 2011; USDA-ARS, 2012
Pitcairn IslandPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013
SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive Space and Flynn, 2002; Krisnawati et al., 2011; PIER, 2013Savai‘i Island. Aboriginal introduction
Solomon IslandsPresentNativeKrisnawati et al., 2011
TongaPresentIntroduced Invasive Krisnawati et al., 2011; PIER, 2013Reported as aboriginal introduction and an invasive species on Ha‘apai Islands, Kao Island, Lifuka Island, Tofua Island, ‘Eua Island, Tongatapu Island, Late Island, Niuafo‘ou Island, Tafahi Island, Vava‘u Island
VanuatuPresentNative Natural Krisnawati et al., 2011
Wallis and Futuna IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2013Cultivated

History of Introduction and Spread

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This species has been widely introduced to South and Central America, the Caribbean, Japan and Africa. In the tropical oceanic islands of the Pacific, A. moluccanus was intentionally introduced as a useful plant by the first Polynesian migrants at least 1000 years ago and is now widely naturalized (Larrue et al., 2010). In the West Indies, this species first appears in herbarium collections made in Puerto Rico in 1885, in Cuba in 1889 and in Guadeloupe in 1892 (US National Herbarium). 

Risk of Introduction

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The large seeds of A. moluccanus are poorly suited to long-distance dispersal. Although it is capable of surviving in new areas outside its native range, its rate of unaided spread is generally low, and it “is rarely considered a harmful invasive or pest species” (Elevitch and Manner, 2006). It is, however, widely planted across a very large geographical area, which significantly increases the potential for it to escape into the wild. It is reported to be invasive in the Dominican Republic (Kairo et al., 2003) and to be a pest in parts of Australia, including Christmas Island (University of Queensland, 2011).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Natural
Natural forests Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Productive/non-natural

Biology and Ecology

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Physiology and Phenology

There is only weak seasonality to flowering and fruiting in A. moluccanus, with plants above 3–4 years old producing flowers and fruit continuously, and with all stages of the fruiting cycle often present on a single tree at the same time. The flowers are, however, more abundant in the spring. It is estimated that individual trees of A. moluccanus can live for 40–60 years (Elevitch and Manner, 2006). There are few pests of A. moluccanus, none which are serious (Krisnawati et al., 2011).

Associations

The tree species associated with A. moluccanus vary across its natural and introduced range. In the Cook Islands, they include the native species Elaeocarpus floridanus and Hernandia moerenhoutiana and the introduced species Cocos nucifera, Morinda citrifolia, Hibiscus tiliaceus and Psidium guajava; in French Polynesia, they include H. tiliaceus and Rhus taitensis on forested slopes, and a wider range of native species on rocky slopes. In Hawaii, the native species associated with A. moluccanus include species of Diospyros and Pisonia, and introduced species include Syzygium cumini, Schinus terebinthifolia and Eucalyptus species (Elevitch and Manner, 2006).

Environmental Requirements

A. moluccanus grows chiefly on well-drained, moist, slightly acidic soils. It can reach elevations of 1200 m (3900 ft.) close to the Equator, but only reaches 700 m (2300 ft.) in Hawaii. It typically grows in mesic environments, but is apparently unaffected by varying patterns of rainfall, especially since it often grows close to streams. It generally grows in areas with a mean annual rainfall range of 640-4290 mm and a mean of 1940 mm (Elevitch and Manner, 2006). However, it can tolerate as little as 200 mm annual rainfall in Indonesia and once fully grown, A. moluccanus tolerates drought reasonably well (Krisnawati et al., 2011). It grows in areas with a mean annual temperature of 19–27°C and is estimated to tolerate temperatures no colder than 8°C (Elevitch and Manner, 2006).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
20-25 27-32 0 700

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) 8
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 27
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 26 30
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 8 13

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration35number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall6404290mm; lower/upper limits

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive
Environment (generally) Negative

Economic Impact

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A. moluccanus provides a number of useful products, although few of economic significance (see Uses).

Environmental Impact

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The direct impact of A. moluccanus on native ecosystems is not well known. Simply by virtue of its abundance, it must reduce the abundances of native species, but few specific interactions have been documented. On Christmas Island, its spread into the natural forest vegetation causes attrition of the forest edges and interrupts the natural succession (University of Queensland, 2011).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Abutilon sandwicense (greenflower Indian mallow)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1998
Isodendrion longifolium (longleaf isodendrion)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as threatened species USA ESA listing as threatened speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011b
Peucedanum sandwicense (makou)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as threatened species USA ESA listing as threatened speciesHawaiiCompetition - shadingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011a
Pritchardia napaliensisCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010a
Schiedea hookeri (sprawling schiedea)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resources; Ecosystem change / habitat alterationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011c
Schiedea kealiae (Waianae Range schiedea)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010b
Stenogyne kanehoana (Oahu stenogyne)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1997
Urera kaalaeCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiEcosystem change / habitat alteration; Pest and disease transmissionUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011d
Wikstroemia villosa.CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)HawaiiCompetition (unspecified)US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2012a
Zanthoxylum oahuense (Oahu pricklyash)VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition (unspecified)US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2012a

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Altered trophic level
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Soil accretion
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition - smothering
  • Poisoning
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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Social Benefit

A. moluccanus has a vast number of uses, and almost every part of the plant can be used for some purpose. The living plant is used as an ornamental tree, or as a living fence or windbreak. The 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 (Elevitch and Manner, 2006).

Elevitch and Manner (2006) however, highlight that the majority of uses of A. moluccanus derive from their seeds. They are edible in small quantities when cooked, but are otherwise generally toxic. However, there is a variety growing in Vanuatu that appears to lack the toxic effect. The empty seed shells can be used to make jewellery or as part of a lei, or 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. This traditional use explains the tree’s name in Polynesian languages, which comes from a root meaning ‘light’.

Economic Value

The tree’s chief commercial product is probably a soap substitute produced from the seed oil. Once the oil has been harvested, the remaining seed cake can be used for animal fodder or as fertiliser.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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The related species Aleurites trisperma resembles A. moluccanus, but has entire (unlobed) leaves, and its three-sided fruits have prominent ridges (Elevitch and Manner, 2006).

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Where required, populations of A. moluccanus can be controlled by felling and treating the stumps with glyphosate to prevent the tree from re-sprouting. Seedlings can be sprayed with Roundup [glyphosate] plus Pulse in clean water and saplings and trees either cut stump treated or stem injected with Roundup in clean water or basal bark treated with Garlon 600 [triclopyr] in diesel oil (Swarbrick, 1997).

The tree is a conspicuous and distinctive species that is unlikely to be overlooked or misidentified.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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The ecological impact of A. moluccanus on native habitats requires further research. Although it is generally considered a beneficial tree, it may have detrimental effects that have not yet come to light. Compared to the relative depth of study afforded to the species in Hawaii, little is known about its spread in other areas, such as the Dominican Republic and many other countries, where it is reported to be invasive.

References

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Contributors

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18/06/14 Updated by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

03/01/13 Original text by:

Christopher J. Dixon, University of Oxford, Department of Plant Sciences, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3RB, UK

Distribution Maps

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