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Macadamia nuts on tree.JPG
Macadamia nuts
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
Order: Proteales
Family: Proteaceae
Genus: Macadamia

Macadamia is a genus of four species of trees indigenous to Australia and constituting part of the plant family Proteaceae.[1][2] They are native to north eastern New South Wales and central and south eastern Queensland. The tree is commercially important for its fruit, the macadamia nuts /ˌmækəˈdmiə/ (or simply "macadamia"). Other names include Queensland nut, bush nut, maroochi nut, bauple nut, and Hawaii nut.[3] In Australian Aboriginal languages, the fruit is known by names such as bauple, gyndl, jindilli,[3] and boombera. Previously, more species, with disjunct distributions, were named as members of this genus Macadamia.[2] Genetics and morphological studies more recently published in 2008 show they have separated from the genus Macadamia, correlating less closely than thought from earlier morphological studies.[2] The species previously named in the Macadamia genus may still be referred to overall by the descriptive, non-scientific name of macadamia; their disjunct distributions and current scientific names are:

  • New Caledonia endemic genus Virotia in 1975 having only the type species, then by 2008 all six endemic species
  • North eastern Queensland, Australian endemic genus and species Catalepidia heyana in 1995
  • North eastern Queensland and Cape York Peninsula, Australia, three endemic species of Lasjia in 2008; in Australia still informally described as northern macadamias
  • Sulawesi (Indonesia) two endemic species of Lasjia in 2008, based on the 1952 name M. hildebrandii and the 1995 name M. erecta

Macadamia species grow as small to large evergreen trees 2–12 m (6.6–39.4 ft) tall. The leaves are arranged in whorls of three to six, lanceolate to obovate or elliptical in shape, 6–30 cm long and 2–13 cm broad, with an entire or spiny-serrated margin. The flowers are produced in a long, slender, simple raceme 5–30 cm long, the individual flowers 10–15 mm long, white to pink or purple, with four tepals. The fruit is a very hard, woody, globose follicle with a pointed apex, containing one or two seeds.

The German–Australian botanist Ferdinand von Mueller gave the genus the name Macadamia in 1857 in honor of the Scottish-Australian chemist, medical teacher and politician John Macadam.[4]

Fresh macadamia nut with husk or pericarp cut in half
Macadamia nut in its shell and a roasted nut


Allan Cunningham was the first European to discover the macadamia plant.
German-Australian botanist Ferdinand von Mueller gave the genus the scientific name Macadamia – named after von Mueller’s friend Dr. John Macadam, a noted scientist and secretary to the Philosophical Institute of Australia.
Walter Hill, Superintendent of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens (Australia), observed a boy eating the kernel without ill effect, becoming the first non-indigenous person recorded to eat macadamia nuts.
King Jacky, aboriginal elder of the Logan River clan, south of Brisbane, Queensland, was the first known macadamia entrepreneur, as he and his tribe regularly collected and traded the macadamias with settlers.[5]
Tom Petrie plants macadamias at Yebri Creek (near Petrie) from nuts obtained from Aboriginals at Buderim (Nut Growing Experiments’ The Queenslander Thursday 8 October 1931 p.13)
William H. Purvis introduced macadamia nuts to Hawaii as a windbreak for sugar cane.
The first commercial orchard of macadamia was planted at Rous Mill, 12 km from Lismore, by Charles Staff.
Joseph Maiden, Australian botanist, wrote, "It is well worth extensive cultivation, for the nuts are always eagerly bought."[6]
The Hawaiian Agricultural Experiment Station encouraged planting of macadamias on Hawaii's Kona District, as a crop to supplement coffee production in the region.[7]
Tom Petrie begins trial macadamia plantations in Maryborough district, combining with pecans to shelter the trees (Nut Growing Experiments’ The Queenslander Thursday 8 October 1931 p.13)
Ernst Van Tassel formed the Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Co in Hawai‘i.
Tassel leased 75 acres (300,000 m2) on Round Top in Honolulu (Nut Ridge) and begins a macadamia nut orchard, Hawaii's first macadamia seed farm.
Ernest Van Tassel established a macadamia processing factory on Puhukaina Street in Kakaako; nuts were sold as Van's macadamia nuts.
W. W. Jones and J. H. Beaumont reported, in "Science", the first successful grafting of macadamia that paved the way for mass production.
Steve Angus, Murwillumbah, Australia, formed Macadamia Nuts Pty Ltd, doing small-scale nut processing.
A large plantation was established in Hawaii.[8][9]
Castle & Cooke added a new brand of macadamia nuts called "Royal Hawaiian", which was credited with popularising the nuts in the U.S.
Australia surpassed the United States as the major producer of macadamias.[7]
South Africa surpassed Australia as the largest producer of macadamias.[10][11]


Formerly included in the genus
Lasjia P.H.Weston & A.R.Mast, formerly Macadamia until 2008
  • Lasjia claudiensis (C.L.Gross & B.Hyland) P.H.Weston & A.R.Mast; synonym, base name: Macadamia claudiensis C.L.Gross & B.Hyland
  • Lasjia erecta (J.A.McDonald & R.Ismail) P.H.Weston & A.R.Mast; synonym, base name: Macadamia erecta J.A.McDonald & R.Ismail
  • Lasjia grandis (C.L.Gross & B.Hyland) P.H.Weston & A.R.Mast; synonym, base name: Macadamia grandis C.L.Gross & B.Hyland
  • Lasjia hildebrandii (Steenis) P.H.Weston & A.R.Mast; synonym, base name: Macadamia hildebrandii Steenis
  • Lasjia whelanii (F.M.Bailey) P.H.Weston & A.R.Mast; synonyms: base name: Helicia whelanii F.M.Bailey, Macadamia whelanii (F.M.Bailey) F.M.Bailey
Catalepidia P.H.Weston, formerly Macadamia until 1995
  • Catalepidia heyana (F.M.Bailey) P.H.Weston; synonyms: base name: Helicia heyana F.M.Bailey , Macadamia heyana (F.M.Bailey) Sleumer
Virotia L.A.S.Johnson & B.G.Briggs, formerly Macadamia until the first species renaming began in 1975 and comprehensive in 2008


Macadamia integrifolia flowers

The macadamia tree is usually propagated by grafting, and does not begin to produce commercial quantities of seeds until it is 7–10 years old, but once established, may continue bearing for over 100 years. Macadamias prefer fertile, well-drained soils, a rainfall of 1,000–2,000 mm, and temperatures not falling below 10 °C (although once established, they can withstand light frosts), with an optimum temperature of 25 °C. The roots are shallow and trees can be blown down in storms; they are also susceptible to Phytophthora root disease.

Macadamia 'Beaumont' new growth



A Macadamia integrifolia / M. tetraphylla hybrid commercial variety is widely planted in Australia and New Zealand; it was discovered by Dr. J. H. Beaumont. It is high in oil, but is not sweet. New leaves are reddish, flowers are bright pink, borne on long racemes. It is one of the quickest varieties to come into bearing once planted in the garden, usually carrying a useful crop by the fourth year, and improving from then on. It crops prodigiously when well pollinated. The impressive, grape-like clusters are sometimes so heavy they break the branchlet to which they are attached. In commercial orchards, it has reached 18 kg per tree by eight years old. On the downside, the macadamias do not drop from the tree when ripe, and the leaves are a bit prickly when one reaches into the interior of the tree during harvest. Its shell is easier to open than that of most commercial varieties.

Macadamia 'Maroochy' new growth


A pure M. tetraphylla variety from Australia, this strain is cultivated for its productive crop yield, flavor, and suitability for pollinating 'Beaumont'.

Nelmac II[edit]

A South African M. integrifolia / M. tetraphylla hybrid cultivar, it has a sweet seed, which means it has to be cooked carefully so that the sugars do not caramelise. The sweet seed is usually not fully processed, as it generally doesn't taste as good, but many people enjoy eating it uncooked. It has an open micropyle (hole in the shell) which may let in mould. The crack-out percentage is high. Ten-year-old trees average 22 kg per tree. It is a popular variety because of its pollination of 'Beaumont', and the yields are almost comparable.


A M. integrifolia / M. tetraphylla hybrid, this is a rather spreading tree. On the plus side, it is high yielding (commercially, 17 kg from a 9-year-old tree has been recorded), and the macadamias drop to the ground. However it is thick-shelled, and with not much flavor.


In 2015, South Africa was the world's leading producer of macadamia nuts with 48,000 tonnes compared to Australia's 40,000 tonnes and the total global production of 160,000 tonnes.[11] Macadamia is also commercially produced in Brazil, California, Costa Rica, Israel, Kenya, Bolivia, New Zealand, Colombia, Guatemala and Malawi.

The first commercial orchard of macadamia trees was planted in the early 1880s by Rous Mill, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) southeast of Lismore, New South Wales, consisting of M. tetraphylla.[12] Besides the development of a small boutique industry in Australia during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, macadamia was extensively planted as a commercial crop in Hawaii from the 1920s. Macadamia seeds were first imported into Hawaii in 1882 by William H. Purvis planted seeds that year at Kapulena.[13] The Hawaiian-produced macadamia established the well-known seed internationally. However, in 2006, macadamia production began to fall in Hawaii, due to lower prices from an over-supply.[14]

Food and nutrition[edit]

Macadamia nuts, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 3,080 kJ (740 kcal)
13.8 g
Sugars 4.57 g
Dietary fiber 8.6 g
75.8 g
Saturated 12 g
Monounsaturated 59 g
Polyunsaturated 1.5 g
7.9 g
Thiamine (B1)
1.195 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.162 mg
Niacin (B3)
2.473 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.76 mg
Vitamin B6
0.275 mg
Folate (B9)
11 μg
Vitamin C
1.2 mg
Vitamin E
0.54 mg
85 mg
3.69 mg
130 mg
4.1 mg
188 mg
368 mg
1.30 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.

The seeds (nuts) are a valuable food crop. Only three of the species, Macadamia integrifolia, Macadamia ternifolia, and Macadamia tetraphylla are of commercial importance. The remainder of the genus (M. jansenii) possesses poisonous and/or inedible seeds resulting from cyanogenic glycosides.[citation needed]

In a 100 gram amount, macadamia nuts provide 740 Calories and are a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of numerous essential nutrients, including thiamin (104% DV), vitamin B6 (21% DV), manganese (195% DV), iron (28% DV), magnesium (37% DV) and phosphorus (27% DV) (table). Macadamia nuts are 76% fat, 14% carbohydrates, including 9% dietary fiber, and 8% protein (table).

Compared with other common edible nuts, such as almonds and cashews, macadamias are high in total fat and relatively low in protein (table). They have a high amount of monounsaturated fats (59% of total content, table) and contain, as 17% of total fat, the monounsaturated fat, omega-7 palmitoleic acid.[15]

Toxicity in dogs[edit]

Macadamias are toxic to dogs. Ingestion may result in macadamia toxicity marked by weakness and hind limb paralysis with the inability to stand, occurring within 12 hours of ingestion.[16] Depending on the quantity ingested and size of the dog, symptoms may also include muscle tremors, joint pain and severe abdominal pain. In high doses of toxin, opiate medication may be required for symptom relief until the toxic effects diminish, with full recovery usually within 24 to 48 hours.[16]

Other uses[edit]

The trees are also grown as ornamental plants in subtropical regions for their glossy foliage and attractive flowers. Macadamia species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including Batrachedra arenosella.

Macadamia seeds are often fed to hyacinth macaws in captivity. These large parrots are one of the few animals, aside from humans, capable of cracking the shell and removing the seed.[17]


  1. ^ "Macadamia%". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), Integrated Botanical Information System (IBIS) database (listing by % wildcard matching of all taxa relevant to Australia). Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government. Retrieved 26 Apr 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Mast, Austin R.; Willis, Crystal L.; Jones, Eric H.; Downs, Katherine M.; Weston, Peter H. (July 2008). "A smaller Macadamia from a more vagile tribe: inference of phylogenetic relationships, divergence times, and diaspore evolution in Macadamia and relatives (tribe Macadamieae; Proteaceae)". American Journal of Botany. 95 (7): 843–870. doi:10.3732/ajb.0700006. ISSN 1537-2197. PMID 21632410. Retrieved 4 Apr 2013. 
  3. ^ a b The Bopple Nut
  4. ^ Mueller, F.J.H. von (1857) Account of some New Australian Plants. Transactions of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria 2: 72 Type: Macadamia ternifolia F.Muell.[1]
  5. ^ McConachie, Ian (1980). "The Macadamia Story" (PDF). California Macadamia Society Yearbook. 26: 41–47. Retrieved 11 Jan 2014. 
  6. ^ Maiden, J. H., The Useful Native Plants of Australia, 1889, p40
  7. ^ a b Rieger, M., Introduction to Fruit Crops, 2006, p. 260. ISBN 978-1-56022-259-0
  8. ^ Sandra Wagner-Wright (1995). History of the macadamia nut industry in Hawai'i, 1881–1981. E. Mellen Press. ISBN 978-0-7734-9097-0. 
  9. ^ Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Packaging
  10. ^ "Cracking good run for macadamia industry". Farmer's Weekly. Retrieved June 8, 2015. 
  11. ^ a b "South Africa becomes king of macadamia nuts again". FreshPlaza. 14 April 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2016. 
  12. ^ Macadamia Power Pty (1982). Macadamia Power in a Nutshell. Macadamia Power Pty Limited. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-9592892-0-6. 
  13. ^ Schmitt, Robert. "Macadamia Nuts". Hawaiian Historical Society. Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Hawaii Macadamia Nuts: Final Season Estimates" (PDF). Hawaii Department of Agriculture. July 13, 2007. Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Macadamia nuts, raw, per 100 g". Conde Nast for the USDA National Nutrient Database, release SR 21. 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2016. 
  16. ^ a b Christine Allen (October 2001). "Treacherous Treats – Macadamia Nuts" (PDF). Veterinary Technician. Retrieved January 15, 2014. 
  17. ^ Kashmir Csaky (November 2001). "The Hyacinth Macaw". Parrots Magazine. Retrieved December 6, 2010. 

External links[edit]