Benefits of Pili Tree, Pili Fruit and Pili Nuts
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Benefits of Pili Tree, Pili Fruit and Pili Nuts

According to experts, pili nuts possess the highest fat content of all nuts in the world, even fatter than the notable macadamia nut. Pili has the flavor of pumpkin seed when raw but even more delicious when roasted, but some suggest that the nut has a texture and flavor that surpasses almond nut or the taste is a cross between macadamia nut and almond. The kernel is edible raw, roasted, fried or sugar-coated, and is also used in making cakes, puddings and ice cream. Chocolate companies abroad now prefer pili nuts as a substitute for macadamia nuts, which are becoming expensive.


Pili tree (canarium ovatum Engl.) is endemic in the Philippine archipelago: mainly indigenous here in Sorsogon in Bicol region as its center of genetic diversity. They are also spread out and grow in tropical Asia and the Pacific but they are still ‘comfortable’ in the central Philippines with its compatible fertile soil, moisture and temperature.                 

The Pili Tree                                                                                                                                                                            It is a hardy tree with the fruit commonly called a nut is technically a drupe, is about 5-6 centimeters long and has a thin black/purple skin when ripe. Under the skin is a fibrous, hairy and greenish pulp. The hard pointed shell contains the oily and delicious nut. I remember crashing the shell with a hard stone to get the nut inside, when I was a kid. It is the nut within that most Filipinos think of when you say Pili Nut.    

 The pili tree is excellent for landscaping, as a windbreaker (as Bicol region is a landmark to storms and typhoons), and for agro forestation; its roots prevents landslides. Pili nut trees are one of the most typhoon-resistant species.                                             As lumber, the wood is characterized by fine marked grains making it very ideal for making high quality furniture, carved doors, panels and other wooden products. Pili trees generally grow wild rather than in organized plantations so the supply of nuts is limited. Pili farm are now commercially cultivated, an on-going project to the whole Bicol region and is now on the process to be Bicol’s intellectual property, once registered. Bicol pili would get its own geographical indication, or GI, from the intellectual property office.  The tree bark from the pili nut tree is also a source of latex.

The Pili Fruit

                                                                                                                           The young shoots and the fruit pulp of pili is edible. The pili fruit can be made into pickle, while the ripe pulp is edible after boiling. The shots are used in salads, and the pulp is eaten when boiled and seasoned. It resembles sweet potatoes in texture with a food value considered similar to avocado. The fruits spoil relatively faster due to the high-fat content, so that explains why they are rapidly preserved with salt or tons of sugar.

The Pili Nuts 

                                                                                                           According to experts, pili nuts possess the highest fat content of all nuts in the world, even fatter than the notable macadamia nut. Pili has the flavor of pumpkin seed when raw but even more delicious when roasted, but some suggest that the nut has a texture and flavor that surpasses almond nut or the taste is a cross between macadamia nut and almond. The kernel is edible raw, roasted, fried or sugar-coated, and is also used in making cakes, puddings and ice cream. Chocolate companies abroad now prefer pili nuts as a substitute for macadamia nuts, which are becoming expensive. Glazed and honey roasted have become a favorite snack. Sweetened pili nuts are exported to countries like Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore to be used in deserts.

Pili nuts are always ground into a healthier alternative to chocolate. They are added in ice cream. It can make into pili butter spread, candies, pili-nut brittle, pili-tarts or chocolate crunch.

Nutritional Profile

Pili nut contains all 8 essential amino acids and contains 302mg of magnesium which is more magnesium than other nuts. The US Department of Agriculture recommends amount of 400 to 420mg daily for men and 310 to 320mg for women.

The nut also contains 100 percent of the daily required amount of copper and manganese. Its protein content is almost complete, the vital electrolytes, essential fats, and also rich in minerals, which are significant in maintaining bone and muscles tissues, a good and strong heart and keeping the body functioning well.

Medicinal and Traditional Uses

The amino acids in pili helps in balanced blood-sugar levels, development of muscle-tissue, hormones production and nerve-cell health. It also assist in the regulation of energy, support healthy bones and skin, liver detoxification and balance in the brain. Magnesium helps supports healthier nerves, bones and muscle. The omega fatty acids serves immune functions and aid in protection from various diseases including cardiovascular diseases by helping to prevent cholesterol before turning to plaque. The oil in pili is similar to olive oil but it contains more beta carotene, which is more nutritious. Its purgative effect helps one on a natural detoxification of the colon.

The pili nut is commonly used in oriental dessert like “bibingka,” a cake every Christmas time in the Philippines. It is used to prepare moon-cake on moon festivals. It is traditionally used to de-worm livestock and used to treat skin diseases in humans like scabies.

The twenty three percent of the pili nut oil may be used for lighting and cooking. It is also used to manufacture cosmetic, soaps and shampoo including pharmaceutical and industrial products.

The shell of the nuts makes good cooking fuel and can be made into attractive ornaments. The nuts stored well can be used for several months.

Note: There is no a reported known side effect; however, before adding pili nuts to your diet, consult your doctor.


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Comments (18)

I am especially fond of trees that have several functions. The Pili suits me just fine with the flavor of the nut you describe comes from that tree. Thank you for such an interesting article.I learned a lot from it.

I really appreciate your immediate and kind comment Roberta, thank you very much.

Thanks Ruby.

Never heard of this tree. A detailed presentation and a great article. Voted!

Interesting and new information for me. thanks Sir for your educational subjects

Thanks Ron for your research on the Pili Tree and all it has to offer...voted

Excellent information!

Ranked #27 in Food & Nutrition

I have seen this but am unable to find the equivalent Indian name for it...thanks a lot Ron for all the interesting and useful information :)

A very interesting and informative read, Ron. This tree and its fruit was new to me too.

Sounds like a very resourceful tree. I would have them planted in my backyard.

Never heard of them either, sounds yummy.

What an interesting fruit -- I had not heard of it before. The tree is beautiful. Voted and added to StumbleUpon.

An exceptionally educative and informational read. The whole info is completely new to me. thanks for the good share here.

what great info I never heard of that tree or nut before

thanks everyone for the valued comments and votes.

That is really awesome and very interesting post i like your post its amazing thanks for sharing that stuff with us.

Pond Repair

I read your information with interest. I live in SriLanka. Is it possible for you to send a few seeds for planting?

With best wishes, Hemal de Silva -

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