Pecan vs. Pili

Someone just dropped me a delicious slice of pecan pie which is utterly divine.. as I munch and savor the flavor and crunch of this delicacy, I cannot help but pine for the even more delicious pili nut which is indigenous to my Mom’s region, Bicolandia.  (My mom hails from Bulan, Sorsogon which is on the southernmost tip of the Bicol Region.)

As the daughter of a native bicolana, I’ve seen the pili nut in its fruit, in the trees, in its shell and served as different pastries and delicacies which I truly miss.  I googled the nut and came across this interesting fact page from a Purdue University website featuring “new crops”

Pili Nut

Contributor: Francis T. Zee, USDA-ARS, National Clonal Germplasm Repository, Hilo, HI.

Copyright © 1995. All Rights Reserved. Quotation from this document should cite and acknowledge the contributor.

English: pili nut
Philippines: pili, anangi, basiad, liputi, pilaui, and pili-pilauai.

Scientific Names

Canarium ovatum Engl.


Pili nut kernel is the most important product. When raw, it resembles the flavor of roasted pumpkin seed, and when roasted, its mild, nutty flavor and tender-crispy texture is superior to that of the almond. (Underscoring supplied by the Pinay New Yorker.) Pili kernel is also used in chocolate, icecream, and baked goods. The edible light-yellow color oil from the kernel is comparable in quality to that of olive oil, (Underscoring supplied again) containing 59.6% oleic glycerides and 38.2% palmitic glycerides. The young shoots and the fruit pulp are edible. The shoots are used in salads, and the pulp is eaten after it is boiled and seasoned. Boiled pili pulp resembles the sweet potato in texture, it is oily (about 12%) and is considered to have food value similar to the avocado. Pulp oil can be extracted and used for cooking or as a substitute for cotton seed oil in the manufacture of soap and edible products. The stony shells are excellent fuel or as porous, inert growth medium for orchids and anthurium.


Philippines: abundant and wild in Southern Luzon, and parts of Visayas and Mindanao in low and medium elevation primary forests.

Crop Status

A minor crop produced only in the Philippines. The bulk of the raw nuts are supplied from wild stands in the mountains around Sorsogon, Albay and Camarines Sur in the Bicol region. The average annual production between 1983-1987 was 2925 tonnes of dried nuts from an estimated 2700 ha. Pili nut has the potential to become a major nut crop. Improvement of and knowledge in efficient vegetative propagation, ecological and cultural requirements of pili as a commercial crop, and the mechanization for commercial processing are needed.

To be touted as being more superior than the beloved almond and the venerated olive oil truly makes me proud.  And this is an academic evaluation of its properties — not some Bicolana like me waxing poetic about the pili.

My Mom would feel sad if she read this article because she would sigh in exasperation at how her kababayans continue to wallow in poverty instead of taking advantage of this possible source of livelihood.  To me, though, this is a source of pride indeed. 



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