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For the snail genus, see Canarium (gastropod).
Canarium harveyi, leaves, fruits.jpg
Fruiting branch of the canarium nut Canarium harveyi
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Burseraceae
Genus: Canarium

About 100, see text

Canarium is a genus of about 100 species of tropical and subtropical trees, in the family Burseraceae. They grow naturally across tropical Africa, south and southeast Asia, Indochina, Malesia, Australia and western Pacific Islands; including from southern Nigeria east to Madagascar, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and India; from Burma, Malaysia and Thailand through the Malay Peninsula and Vietnam to south China, Taiwan and the Philippines; through Borneo, Indonesia, Timor and New Guinea, through to the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Palau.[2]

They grow up to large evergreen trees of 40–50 m (130–160 ft) tall, and have alternately arranged, pinnate leaves.[2]

Common names[edit]

The trees and their edible nuts have a large number of common names in their range. These include Pacific almond, canarium nut, pili nut, Java almond, Kenari nut, galip nut, nangai, and ngali.[3]


This species listing was sourced from The Plant List data aggregation website that takes in some inaccurate data. The brief species distribution information was sourced from Flora Malesiana,[2] the Flora of China (series) and the Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants information system.

Canarium resinieferum seeds dispersed by hornbills in Pakke Tiger Reserve

Uses and ecology[edit]

Several species have edible nuts, known as galip nut or nangae (C. indicum), pili nut (C. ovatum), or simply canarium nut (C. harveyi and C. indicum). C. indicum are among the most important nut-bearing trees in eastern Indonesia and the Southwest Pacific. C. ovatum is cultivated extensively only in the Philippines.[citation needed]

Dabai (C. odontophyllum) is a species which is a delicious[opinion] and nutritious fruit which tastes something like avocado.[citation needed] The skin and flesh are edible after soaking in warm water. The fruit contains large amounts of protein, fat and carbohydrate, thereby making it an ideal food (most nuts are low in protein).[citation needed] It has been introduced from Borneo to Queensland in Australia.[citation needed] In addition to providing food for humans, this plant's fruit is eaten by certain animals, such as the red-bellied lemur (Eulemur rubriventer) and the ruffed lemurs (Varecia) of Madagascar's eastern rainforests.

Canarium album fruit at a market in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

C. album is also a delicious fruit consumed in Vietnam, Thailand (where it is known as nam liap (Thai: หนำเลี๊ยบ), samo chin (Thai: สมอจีน) or kana (Thai: กาน้า))[4] and in China (Chinese olive) with an appearance of a big olive.

C. luzonicum, commonly known as elemi, is a tree native to the Philippines. An oleoresin, which contains Elemicin, is harvested from it.

Superb fruit-doves (Ptilinopus superbus) are known to be fond of the fruit of scrub turpentine (C. australianum), which they swallow whole.[5][6]


  1. ^ International Organization for Plant Information (IOPI). "Plant Name Search Results" (HTML). International Plant Names Index. Retrieved 13 Nov 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Leenhouts, P. W.; Kalkman, C.; Lam, H. J. (March 1956). "Canarium (Burseraceae)". Flora Malesiana (Digitised, online). Series I, Spermatophyta : Flowering Plants 5 (2). Leiden, The Netherlands: Rijksherbarium / Hortus Botanicus, Leiden University. pp. 249–296. Retrieved 13 Nov 2013. 
  3. ^ "Canarian indicum", accessed 12 Dec 2013; Sheppard, Peter J. "Lapita Colonization across the Near/Remote Oceania Boundary" Current Anthropology Vol. 52, No. 6 (Dec 2011), p. 802
  4. ^ Canarium album Thai Biodiversity.
  5. ^ Crome, F. H. J. (1975). "The ecology of fruit pigeons in tropical northern Queensland". Wildlife Research 2 (2): 155–185. doi:10.1071/wr9750155. Retrieved 16 Nov 2013. 
  6. ^ Frith, H. J.; Crome, F. H. J.; Wolfe, T. O. (1976). "Food of fruit-pigeons in New Guinea". Emu 76 (2): 49–58. doi:10.1071/mu9760049. Retrieved 16 Nov 2013.