Aleurites moluccanus (L.) Willd.

Last updated: 27 May 2016

Scientific Name

Aleurites moluccanus (L.) Willd.           


Aleurites ambinux Pers., Aleurites angustifolius Vieill. ex Guillaumin, Aleurites angustifolius Vieill., Aleurites commutatus Geiseler, Aleurites cordifolius (Gaertn.) Steud., Aleurites integrifolius Vieill. ex Guillaumin, Aleurites integrifolius Vieill., Aleurites javanicus Gand., Aleurites lanceolatus Blanco, Aleurites lobatus Blanco, Aleurites pentaphyllus Wall. [Invalid], Aleurites remyi Sherff, Aleurites trilobus J.R.Forst. & G.Forst., Camerium moluccanum (L.) Kuntze, Camirium cordifolium Gaertn., Camirium oleosum Reinw. ex Blume, Dryandra oleifera Lam., Jatropha moluccana L., Mallotus moluccanus (L.) Müll.Arg., Manihot moluccana (L.) Crantz, Ricinus dicoccus Roxb., Rottlera moluccana (L.) Scheff., Telopea perspicua Sol. ex Seem. [1]

Vernacular Name



Kemiri, kembiri, buah keras [2]


Candlenut tree, Indian walnut, lumbang tree [2]


Kemiri, miri (General); muncang (Sundanese) [2]


Phothisat (Bangkok); kue-ra, purat (Peninsular); mayao (Northern) [2]


Kôk namz man [2]


Lumbang, biaw (Cebuano) [2]


Lai [2]

Papua New Guinea

Tutui [2]


Noix des Indes, noix de Bancoul, noix des Moluques [2]

Geographical Distributions

The origin of Aleurites moluccana is not accurately known, but it is distributed from India and China, throughout Southeast Asia, to Polynesia and New Zealand. It has been introduced for cultivation in many tropical countries all over the world. [2]

Botanical Description

A. moluccana  is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family. It is a large, evergreen, monoecious tree, which can grow up to 10-40 m tall, with heavy, irregular and large-leafed crown that appears whitish or frosted from a distance due to a cover of white star-shaped hairs especially on the young parts. The stem diametre is up to 1.5 m, with grey bark and rather rough with lenticels.

The leaves are arranged alternate and simple. The stipules are small and early caducous. The petiole is up to 30 cm long and bears a pair of small and green-brown glands at the top on the upper side. The blade in young trees and suckers are subcircular in outline, measures up to 30 cm in diametre, with a cordate base and 3-5 triangular lobes. The blade in adult trees are ovate-triangular or ovate-oblong, measuring 12-23 cm x 6-12 cm, with entire or slightly sinuate margin, pointed at apex, curved and drooping and dark green with a silvery gloss.

The inflorescence is 10-20 cm long, thyrsoid and terminal or upper-axillary. The flowers are unisexual, borne on a small pedicel and white. The female flowers terminate the ultimate branchlets of the cymes while the male flowers are much more numerous, smaller, open earlier and arranged around the female flowers in bunches. The sepal is 2-3-lobed at the anthesis. There are 5 lance-shaped petals which are 6-7 mm long in male flowers and 9-10 mm in female ones. There are 5 disk glands. The male flowers are with 10-20 stamens, arranged in 3-4 series with the outer ones free and the inner ones connate whereas the female flowers are 2-4-locular, with hairy ovary and 2-4 deeply bipartite styles.

The fruit is drupaceous, laterally compressed, ovoid-spherical and 2-seeded or semi spherical and 1-seeded, measuring 5-6 cm x 4-7 cm, hairy, indehiscent and olive-green with whitish flesh. The seed is compressed-spherical and measures up to 3 cm x 3 cm. The endocarp is thick, bony and rough while the albumen is thick and rich in oil. [2]


A. moluccana occurs commonly in the drier regions of Southeast Asia. In the more humid parts, it is present naturally in rather specific locations, such as well-drained sands near the coast and on limestone, but it is also found naturalised in mixed and teak forests at altitudes up to 1200 m. [2]

Chemical Constituent

A. moluccana  has been reported to contain (3α,5β,10α)-13-methoxypodocarpa-8,11,13-triene-3,12-diol, (5β,10α)-12,13-dihydroxypodocarpa-8,11,13-trien-3-one, (5β,10α)-12-hydroxy-13-methoxypodocarpa-8,11,13-trien-3-one, (5β,10α)-13-hydroxy-12-methoxypodocarpa-8,11,13-trien-3-one;2-O-rhamnosylswertisin, 5,6,7-trimethoxycoumarin, 6,7-dimethoxycoumarin, 6,7-dehydromoluccanic acid, 12-hydroxy-13-methylpodocarpa-8,11,13-trien-3-one, 13-O-myristyl-20-O-acetyl-12-deoxyphorbol, acetil, aleuritolic acid, ascorbic-acid, β-carotene, β-sitostenone, calcium, carbohydrates, ent-3α-hydroxypimara-8(14),15-dien-12-one, ent-3β,14α-hydroxypimara-7,9(11),15-triene-12-one, hentriacontane, linoleic-acid, linolenic-acid, moluccanic acid, moluccanic acid methyl ester, moluccanin, oleic-acid, phosphorus, swertisin, tannin, thiamine, spruceanol. [3][4][5][6][7][8]

Plant Part Used

Seeds [9]

Traditional Use

Generally in the South Pacific, A. moluccana is used to treat stomach and bowel disorders in children, asthma, bad breath, skin sores or ulcers, swollen womb and rejuvenation of the body after poisoning [10]. The most commonly used part is the fruit or nut. The oil extracted from the nut is a good laxative and is frequently used by the inhabitants of the Malay Archipelago right to the South Pacific Islands [10][11]. The oil is also used to soften the skin of the abdomen of pregnant ladies and of infants. It serves as an external lubricant for masseurs [12]. The pulped kernel is used as poultice in the treatment of headache, fevers, ulcers, swollen joints and constipation [11]. The fruit is eaten to produce aphrodisiac activity [13].

The Indonesian used the bark as a remedy for dysentery while the Japanese used them for treatment of tumours. The gum from the bark mixed with coconut milk is a remedy for sprue [11]. It is compounded with other herbs in a remedy for asthma. By itself the gum is chewed for its aphrodisiac properties [13].

The fresh leaves of A. moluccana are used in poultices for swelling, deep bruises, and other ailments where local concentration of heat and sweating is desired [10][12]. The boiled leaves are applied externally to treat headaches and gonorrhoea [11].

Preclinical Data


Ocular burn healing

The irrigation of corneal ulcers induced by methanol or sodium hydroxide (NaOH), with marine solution followed by treatment with a mixture of Calophyllum inophyllum and A. maluccana oils was found to hasten the healing process [14]. It is reported that A. moluccana oil does not have cytotoxic effects and increased cell membrane omega-3 fatty acid contents [15].

Lipid-lowering activity

Methanol extract of A. molaccana leaves had been demonstrated to have lipid-lowering effects in a dose of 300 mg/kg body weight in rats. It is believed that the effect was mediated through the inhibition of hepatic cholesterol biosynthesis and reduction of lipid absorption in the intestine. [16]

Antimicrobial activity

A number of selected plants traditionally used for the treatment of infectious diseases by the Polynesians were screened for their antimicrobial activities. A. moluccana extract was found to inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. [17]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

Toxic parts

Whole plant, but seeds are involved most often in human exposures. [18]


A derivative of phorbol, an irritant. [18]

Risk management

Raw seeds are poisonous so it must be roasted before use. [9]

Poisonous clinical findings

A sensation of discomfort, warmth, and nausea develops shortly after ingestion. This may be followed by vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhoea, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. [18]


Intravenous hydration, antiemetics, and electrolyte replacement may be necessary for patients with severe gastrointestinal symptoms, particularly in children. Consultation with a Poison Control Center should be considered. [18]

Line drawing



Figure 1: The line drawing of A. moluccana [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Aleurites moluccanus (L.) Willd. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 May 27]. Available from:
  2. Siemonsma JS. Aleurites moluccana (L.) Willd. In: de Guzman CC, Siemonsma JS, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 13: Spices. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 1999; p. 63-65.
  3. 8 US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. Dr Duke’s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. [homepage on the Internet] c1992-2016 [updated 2016 Jul 07; cited 2016 Jul 28]. Available from:
  4. Morsch M, Girardi LG, Cechinel-Filho V, Meyre-Silva C, Rodrigues CA. Separation of C-glycoside flavonoids from Aleurites moluccana using chitin and full N-acetylated chitin. Z Naturforsch C. 2002;57(9-10):957-959.
  5. Satyanarayana P, Kumar KA, Singh SK, Rao GN. A new phorbol diester from Aleurites moluccana. Fitoterapia. 2001;72(3):304-306.
  6. Girardi LG, Morsch M, Cechinel-Filho V, Meyre-Silva C, Rodrigues CA. Isolation of flavonoids from Aleurites moluccana using chitosan modified with benzaldehyde (CH-Bz) as chromatographic support. Pharmazie. 2003;58(9):629-630.
  7. Morsch M, Girardi LG, Cechinel-Filho V, Meyre-Silva C, Rodrigues CA. Separation of flavonoids from Aleurites moluccana leaves using chitosan modified with heptaldehyde. Z Naturforsch C. 2004;59(9-10):649-652.
  8. Morsch M, Girardi LG, Cechinel-Filho V, Meyre-Silva C, Rodrigues CA. The use of chitosan modified with glutaraldehyde and glyoxal as chromatographic support for the separation of flavonoids from Aleurites moluccana leaves. Pharmazie. 2006;61(8):670-672.
  9. Seidemann J. World spice plants: Economic usage, botany, taxonomy. Berlin: Springer-Verlag; 2005, p. 14.
  10. Elevitch CR, editor. Traditional trees of Pacific Islands: Their culture, environment, and use. Holualoa, Hawaii: Permanent Agriculture Resources, 2006; p. 49.
  11. Oyen LPA. Aleurites moluccana. In: van der Vossen HAM, Mkamilo GS. Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 14: Vegetable oils. Wageningen, Netherlands: PROTA Foundation/Backhuys Publishers/CTA, 2007; p. 22-23.
  12. Grossinger R. Planet medicine: From stone age shamanism to post-industrial healing. Boulder, Colorado: Shambhala Publications, 1982; p. 80.
  13. Stark R. The book of aprodisiacs.  Ontario: Methuen Publications, 1980; p. 8.
  14. Said T, Dutot M, Labbé A, Warnet JM, Rat P. Ocular burn: rinsing and healing with ionic marine solutions and vegetable oils. Ophthalmologica. 2009;223(1):52-59.
  15. Said T, Dutot M, Christon R, et al. Benefits and side effects of different vegetable oil vectors on apoptosis, oxidative stress, and P2X7 cell death receptor activation. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2007;48 (11):5000-5006.
  16. Pedrosa RC, Meyre-Silva C, Cechinel-Filho V, et al. Hypolipidaemic activity of methanol extract of Aleurites moluccana. Phytother Res. 2002;16(8):765-768.
  17. Locher CP, Burch MT, Mower HF, et al. Anti-microbial activity and anti-complement activity of extracts obtained from selected Hawaiian medicinal plants. J Ethnopharmacol. 1995;49(1):23-32.
  18. Nelson LS, Shih RD, Balick MJ.Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. 2nd ed. New York: Springer, 2007; p. 71.