Galip Nut (Canarium Indicum): A Tropical, Nutritional Nut
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)
Commercial Cultivation of Galip Nut
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.
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.
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.