Galip Nut (Canarium Indicum): A Tropical, Nutritional Nut

Updated on September 12, 2017
Fresh galip nuts with outer dark purple-black pith, the kernel with brown covering and the edible yellowish-while nut inside
Fresh galip nuts with outer dark purple-black pith, the kernel with brown covering and the edible yellowish-while nut inside | Source

Galip nut is the nut of the Galip tree as known in Pidgin. Scientific name is Canarium Indicum. Canarium Indicum has been cultivated in Melanesia for thousands of years and have been important in the diet of people in the region, including Papua New Guinea. Galip nuts have high nutritional value and contain high oil, protein, vitamins and minerals content. The Canarium species have a similar composition to Macadamia nut.

Nutrition Facts of the Galip Nut

(Protein * = Nitrogen x 5.3)
Moisture (g/100 g)
Fat (g/100 g)
Protein * (g/100 g)
Ash (g/100 g)
Carbohydrates (g/100 g)
Energy (kj/100 g)
Sodium (mg/kg)
Source: National Agriculture Research Institute Publication, Galip Nut, May 2007

Commercial Cultivation of Galip Nut

Galip Trees

Canarium Indicum is a tall tree with a straight bole that grows wild in lowland tropical rainforest. The galip tree can grow up to 40 meters in height and 1-1.5 meters in diameter. It has large leaves up to 30 centimeters long that form a dense canopy, spreading to 30 meters in diameter. In my village, the timber from galip tree is favoured for building houses.

Canarium Indicum belongs to the family Burseraceae, which has 16 genera. The genus Canarium contains approximately 100 species, of which 75 species are found mainly in tropical Asia and the Pacific, including 21 species in Papua New Guinea.

The kernel in the nut of the galip tree is edible. In Papua New Guinea, galip nuts are found in the New Guinea Islands, the Bismark Archipelago, northern coast of Papua New Guinea from Madang to East Sepik and Milne Bay Province. It is also indigenous to the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and some parts of the Pacific.

Galip Treee
Galip Treee

Fruiting and Harvesting

The galip tree matures for fruiting 4-5 years after planting or longer in areas with high rainfall. The fruit takes 5-8 months to reach maturity and this is indicated by the outer pitch surrounding the shell turning from olive-green to dark purple-black in colour. The kernel matures and fills late in the maturing process when the colour turns dark purple-black.

Traditionally, galip harvesting is an important social event. The rights to the galip trees depends on whose land the tree grows on and who planted them or looked after the tree to grow, if not planted. On galip harvesting day, men will climb the trees and cut down the branches bearing large clusters of nuts. The women and children collect the nuts and put them in large baskets made from coconut fronds. If not harvested from the tree, the nut will fall to the ground within 2-3 months after maturity and they can be collected then.

Our parents will then decide on how many baskets to consume while fresh, how many to preserve for later and the rest shared among clan members. The galip nuts to be preserved for consuming or used in ceremonies later are then put into a pool of water along the creeks or rivers for the outer pith to rot off. This takes 3-4 days. After the outer pith rot off, the nuts are then dried in the sun, and put back into the baskets. They can be either sun-dried or hung in the kitchen for the smoke of cooking fires to cure them. Smoke-cured galip nuts are easy to crack, tasty and can last for many years.

How to Eat

Galip nuts can be eaten fresh when harvested from the trees. Some nuts are dried and can be eaten at a later date, even years later as the shells are very strong and the kernel can be preserved for a long time. It can be baked in the oven, with the brown layer on or the brown layer removed and fried. Traditionally, the dried galip nut is used for cooking special dishes likes having the kernels crushed and mixed with grated cassava, sago, pumpkin or banana and baked with coconut over hot stones.

The Taste of Galip Nut

Fresh galip nut has a milky, nutty flavour. The most common closest nut that I can liken the galip nut flavour to is macadamia. The dried or smoke-cured galip nut has a bit of oily flavour. Whether fresh or dried, the taste is very nice. But before one gets to tasting it, galip nuts are hard to crack. Don’t lay it flat and try to crack it as it will smash the kernel. Stand them top end down and hit the bottom end sharply. This will break the nut easily and the kernel will come out whole.

Galip Nuts in the Eco-System

Galip nuts that ripen on the trees in the forest provides food for birds and other animals. The pigeons and hornbills swallow them whole, and when the outer pith is digested from the nut, the nut is passed out. The nuts are spread throughout the rainforest through this means. Thus, many galip nuts can be found and collected under trees where pigeons and hornbills frequent. If the nuts fall to the ground, the cassowaries and bandicoots feed on them. During galip season, some fruits are not harvested to attract these animals which men hunt for food.

Bought this bag of galip nut for $10 from Kokopo Market, ENBP.  Once completely dried, the soft outer covering will come off.  If used strictly for cooking, it will last 3-4 months.
Bought this bag of galip nut for $10 from Kokopo Market, ENBP. Once completely dried, the soft outer covering will come off. If used strictly for cooking, it will last 3-4 months. | Source

Commercial Cultivation of Galip Nut in PNG

The wild galip population in Papua New Guinea is about 6 million hectares at a density of 0.2 trees per hectare. Despite having 21 species of Canarium Indicum and galip nut being popular, it is not commercially cultivated on a large scale in Papua New Guinea. Subsistence farmers cultivate them for their own consumption and trading of the surplus in local markets. Agriculture research is currently being done in the New Guinea Islands for possible commercial production of Canarium Indicum.

Whilst this indigenous nut is important in the diets of the people, the greatest risk now is foreign logging companies raping the forests. Galip trees are favoured as it produces good, strong timber. If logging continues, the 6 million wild population of galip will be gone.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


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    • profile image

      David Pongot 

      2 years ago

      I am from the West New Britain Province of PNG where the Galip is so widespread and plentiful, same as the other parts of Papua. It would be great to look at opportunities and studies to assist in commercializing the product. I would like to do have access to studies done is some can help with this.

      thank you

    • profile image

      Gerega Maiga 

      2 years ago

      This is good direction towards adaptive forest management system for biodiversity vs bio-economy.

    • profile image 

      3 years ago

      I am from Vanuatu and I do miss the taste of these nuts. I am getting a few kg bags send over to New Zealand for personal consumption and would be happy to share this if any one is interested. E-mail me for more details.

    • profile image

      Constance White 

      3 years ago

      I lived in PNG from 1979 to 1984. Lived in Lae for three years and Tabubil for two years. I would love to be able to get galup nuts imported to the US.

      I would purchase them at the local market where I would go to get vegetables

      from the local folks. There is no other taste. Yes I would say it is between an almond and the macadamina nut. There should be more information sent out around the world about trying to save there trees from being depleted from the landscape. Thank you

    • profile image 

      4 years ago

      On the film shown on this interesting site I thought I recognized Tio Nevenimo, my counterpart on a very brief mission to NARI Kerawat in 2002 to test improved clonal propagation methods for galip. I would much like to renew contacts with Tio.

      Yours sincerely, Ed Verheij

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Wasn't familiar with this nut. Very interesting.


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