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Inocarpus fagifer - (Parkinson) Fosberg.

Common Name Tahiti Chestnut, Polynesian Chestnut
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Common in coastal forests, margins of swampy places, along rivers, and even in dry forest[311 ]. Lowland secondary forest, stream banks, swamps and marshes, mangrove areas, and coconut plantations at elevations from sea level to 500 metres[312 ].
Range E. Asia - Malaysia to Australia and the southwest Pacific.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Wet Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Inocarpus fagifer Tahiti Chestnut, Polynesian Chestnut

Inocarpus fagifer Tahiti Chestnut, Polynesian Chestnut


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Inocarpus fagifer or commonly known as Tahiti Chestnut is an evergreen tree exhibiting a large and dense canopy, and short, thick, irregular and buttressed bole of up to 90 cm in diameter. It grows usually about 20 m in height. It has a shallow taproot and well-formed network of lateral roots. It is grown in East Asia for its edible seeds. The leaves are dark green, oblong, and leathery. The white to cream or pale yellow flowers are fragrant and form into clusters at the ends of branches and twigs. The plant is fairly shade tolerant, moderately to fast-growing, and lives up to 90 years. Flowering starts at 3 - 5 years old. The seeds can be eaten raw or cooked (boiled or baked). Tahiti chestnut is also used in traditional medicine particularly in the treatment of sickness relapses, burns, diarrhea, scabies, teething problems in infants, pneumonia, bone fractures, stomach pains, bone pains, malarial fever, and internal bleeding. The wood is fairly durable but may be susceptible to termites as sawn timber. It is used for light construction, canoes, crafts, and tool handles among others.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Inocarpus fagifer is an evergreen Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) by 20 m (65ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bats.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid, very alkaline and saline soils.
It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Aniotum fagiferum Parkinson Bocoa edulis (J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.) Baill. Cajanus edulis (J.R.Forst. &

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed
Edible Uses:

Seed - raw or cooked[301 ]. Boiled before they are quite ripe, they resemble chestnuts in flavour and are very nutritious[63 , 301 ]. They can be boiled or baked[301 ]. The grated seeds are used for making flat cakes, breads and puddings[301 ]. Although quite palatable, the seeds are reputed to be somewhat indigestible even when cooked[301 ]. The kernels (seeds) are large, each weighing 5 - 50 g, and measuring 20 - 70mm in length by 16 - 40mm in width[312 ]. The kernel is edible when cooked but is highly perishable and has a short shelf life. It rapidly changes colour from white to reddish brown after being extracted from the shell[312 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antidiarrhoeal  Mouthwash  Skin  Stomachic

The tahiti chestnut is often used in traditional medicine, where it has a range of applications[311 ]. The bark is used to treat sickness relapses[311 ]. An infusion of the bark is used to treat burns; diarrhoea and teething problems in infants[311 ]. A decoction of the bark is used in treating scabies[311 ]. Extracts from heated bark scrapings are used in a treatment for pneumonia[311 ]. The dried inner bark mixed with coconut oil is applied to bone fractures[311 ]. The root is used to treat stomach-ache[311 ]. Liquid from the stems is used to treat pain in the bones[311 ]. Weakness after childbirth and fish poisoning are treated with the fluid from the leaves[311 ]. The plant is also said to stop internal bleeding[311 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Fuel  Shelterbelt  Soil stabilization  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: The tree has a good network of lateral roots including three or four structured buttresses at the base of the trunk; it is used to stabilize soils, especially near the coast and along the banks of rivers[312 ]. A good medium-height tree for windbreaks because it tolerates strong winds and resists breakage[312 ]. The tree can be used to provide shade for plantation crops[312 ]. It has a dense canopy, which makes it unsuitable for close planting between light-demanding agricultural crops such as sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas), taro (Colocasia esculenta), sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum), and corn (Zea mays). However, it is suitable as a boundary tree to provide shade and shelter for more shade-tolerant crops. Some types are compatible with other trees such as vi (Spondias cyathera), canarium nut (Canariumspp.), and breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis).It also grows together well with cutnut (Barringtoniaspp.),sago palm (Metroxylon salomonense), betel nut palm (Areca catechu),and coconut (Cocos nucifera)[312 ]. Other Uses: The wood is fairly durable, but may be more susceptible to termites as sawn timber[312 ]. It is used for crafts, tool handles, canoes, and light construction[312 ]. Fallen branches are used for fuel[312 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Management: Standard  Other Systems: Multistrata  Regional Crop  Staple Crop: Balanced carb

A plant of hot, humid, tropical lowlands at elevations below 500 metres[335 ]. It is found in areas where the mean annual rainfall ranges from 1,500 - 4,300mm and there is only a small or no dry season[312 ]. The mean annual temperature is around 27°c, with the hottest month ranging from 29.4 - 34.5°c and the coolest month 20 - 23°c[312 ]. Plants are fairly shade tolerant, although heavy shade can reduce yields of seeds[312 ]. The plant succeeds in a wide range of soils that include highly calcareous and saline soils and poorly drained seasonal to permanently waterlogged valleys, swamps, and marshes. It occurs in soils with medium to very low fertility rating. It can grow in mildly acidic to very alkaline coastal soils with a pH up to 14[312 ]. It has medium to high tolerance of steady and strong winds and is windfirm due to a strong lateral root system including buttresses[312 ]. The plant has a moderate to fast rate of growth, with annual increases in height when young of up to 2 metres per year[312 ]. Trees can commence flowering when around 3 - 5 years old[312 ]. Yields of up to 75 kilos of fruits per tree per annum can be obtained from trees 25 or more years old[312 ]. Trees can live for 80 - 90 years[312 ]. The tree responds well to coppicing[312 ]. Although many species within the family Fabaceae have a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, this species is said to be devoid of such a relationship and therefore does not fix atmospheric nitrogen[755 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Plants providing crop shade especially trees.
  • Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Plants that contribute to nitrogen fixation include the legume family – Fabaceae.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Other Systems: Multistrata  Multistrata agroforests feature multiple layers of trees often with herbaceous perennials, annual crops, and livestock.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.
  • Staple Crop: Balanced carb  (0-15 percent protein, 0-15 percent oil, with at least one over 5 percent). The carbohydrates are from either starch or sugar. Annuals include maize, wheat, rice, and potato. Perennials include chestnuts, carob, perennial fruits, nuts, cereals, pseudocereals, woody pods, and acorns.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - it does not tolerate dessication and has a very short viability of a few weeks. The seeds are large and can be sown directly into their permanent positions or into deep, individdual containers. Young plants require shade from strong sun. Germination can take place within 7 days, with almost 100% of the seeds sprouting. Nursery sown seeds can be transplanted to their permanent positions about 2 months after germinating, when about 20 - 30cm tall[312 ]. Single-node cuttings, taken from stems of the current year's growth, can root within 14 days, with almost 100% success rate[312 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Tahiti Chestnut, Polynesian Chestnut, Ailali, Arau, Booi, Dola, Dulafa, Gatet, Gayam, Gnuilaba, I'i, Ifi, Ihi, Isi, Ivi, Julapa, Kayam, Keam, Kurak, Mabe, Mape, Marap, Marare, Marau, Mwaqe, Mworopw, Namambe, Naqi, Nokomo, Nyia oki, Otaheite chestnut, Paravu, Paravua, Rata, Te ibi, Te karaka, Tolok, Zulapa,

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Asia, Australia, Cook Islands, East Timor, Fiji, FSM, Guam, Hawaii, Indonesia, Kiribati, Malaysia, Marianas, Marquesas, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Pacific, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, PNG, Ponape, Samoa, SE Asia, Singapore, Society Islands, Solomon Islands, Tonga, French Polynesia - Austral Islands, Timor-Leste, Truk, USA, Vanuatu, Yap,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(Parkinson) Fosberg.

Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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