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Fruiting branch of Canarium harveyi
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Burseraceae
Genus: Canarium
L. (1754)[1]

About 120, see text

  • Canariellum Engl. (1896)
  • Canariopsis Miq. (1859)
  • Colophonia Comm. ex Kunth (1824)
  • Lipara Lour. ex Gomes Mach. (1868)
  • Mehenbethene Besler ex Gaertn. (1790)
  • Nanari Adans. (1763)
  • Pimela Lour. (1790)
  • Rumphia L. (1753)
  • Sonzaya Marchand (1867)
  • Strania Noronha (1790), nom. nud.

Canarium is a genus of about 120 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, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Palau.[3]

Canarium species grow up to large evergreen trees of 40–50 m (130–160 ft) tall, and have alternately arranged, pinnate leaves.[3] They are dioecious, with male and female flowers growing on separate trees.[4]

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.[5]


As of January 2024, Plants of the World Online accepts 121 species.[2] The brief species distribution information was sourced from Flora Malesiana,[3] the Flora of China (series), the Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants information system, and Plants of the World Online.

Canarium resiniferum 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 as a food crop only in the Philippines.[6]

Dammar resin

C. odontophyllum, known commonly as dabai or kembayau, is a species with a nutritious fruit with a creamy taste. It is hard when raw and may be pickled or softened with hot water when prepared. Many animals feed on the fruit in the wild, such as the red-bellied lemur (Eulemur rubriventer) and the ruffed lemurs (Varecia) of Madagascar's eastern tropical forests. Canarium fruit is also an important part of the diet of the aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascarensis).[7]

Canarium album produces a fruit consumed in Vietnam, Thailand (where it is known as nam liap (Thai: หนำเลี้ยบ), samo chin (Thai: สมอจีน) or kana (Thai: กาน้า)) and in China (Chinese: 橄欖) with an appearance of a big olive.

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

Canarium strictum produces a resin called black dammar.

Superb fruit-doves (Ptilinopus superbus) are known to be fond of the fruit of scrub turpentine (C. australianum), which they swallow whole.[8][9]


  1. ^ "International Plant Names Index". International Plant Names Index (IPNI). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Harvard University Herbaria & Libraries; Australian National Botanic Gardens. Retrieved 13 Nov 2013.
  2. ^ a b Canarium L. Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 19 January 2024.
  3. ^ a b c Leenhouts, P. W.; Kalkman, C.; Lam, H. J. (March 1956). "Canarium (Burseraceae)" (Digitised, online). Flora Malesiana. Series I, Spermatophyta : Flowering Plants. Vol. 5. Leiden, The Netherlands: Rijksherbarium / Hortus Botanicus, Leiden University. pp. 249–296. Retrieved 13 Nov 2013.
  4. ^ Federman, Sarah; Donoghue, Michael J.; Daly, Douglas C.; Eaton, Deren A. R. (2018). "Reconciling species diversity in a tropical plant clade (Canarium, Burseraceae)". PLOS ONE. 13 (6): e0198882. Bibcode:2018PLoSO..1398882F. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0198882. PMC 6003679. PMID 29906281.
  5. ^ "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
  6. ^ Pili Nut, Canarium ovatum, New Crop Fact Sheet. Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plant Products.
  7. ^ Timothy M. Sefczek; Zach J. Farris; Patricia C. Wright (2012). "Aye-Aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) Feeding Strategies at Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar: An Indirect Sampling Method". Folia Primatologica; International Journal of Primatology. - 83 (1): 1–10. doi:10.1159/000338103. PMID 22627178. S2CID 207622496.
  8. ^ Crome, F. H. J. (1975). "The ecology of fruit pigeons in tropical northern Queensland". Wildlife Research. 2 (2): 155–185. doi:10.1071/wr9750155.
  9. ^ 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.

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