The Tamanu Nut Tree is actually indigenous to the tropical areas of South East Asia but it especially flourishes in tropical countries such as the exotic Melanesian islands of Vanuatu and to a much lesser extent, in Polynesian islands such as Tahiti. It can also be found in parts of Southeast Asia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and even Southern India, although the quality of the oil can vary significantly.
While the Tamanu Tree can grow inland, it prefers salty, sandy soil, with the result that it tends to grow profusely near the sea. The native Melanesian people of Vanuatu claim that the best quality Tamanu Oil comes from the trees that grow near coastal areas, rather than from those that grow inland. While the tree is slow-growing, it can grow up to 30 meters in height – this is the case in Vanuatu where the tree is normally wild-grown .
The Tamanu Tree has been known by many names. In Vanuatu, the tree is also known as “Nabagura”. In Fiji, it is called “Dilo” or “Dolno”, “Ati” in Tahiti, “Fetau” in Samoa, “Funa” in the Maldives and “Kamani” in Hawaii.
The trunk of the tree is usually covered in dark, cracked bark while the leaves are elongated and glossy. Small, sweet-smelling white flowers (with a yellow center) are produced twice yearly. These flowers then give way to clusters of fruit. These start out green but turn a yellowy color as they mature. Inside this thin, fleshy fruit (which is inedible) is the Tamanu Nut (sometimes called “Punnai”).
The Tamanu Nut must be allowed to fall naturally from the tree and the pale-colored nut kernels are then laid out on racks to cure (for 1-2 months). During this process, these kernels turn a brownish-red color and release a strong, rich oil. This oil is then extracted by cold-pressing and filtration.
It takes a lot of Tamanu Nuts to produce a small quantity of oil. In fact, it takes around four trees to produce approximately 20 Liters of “pure” Tamanu Oil, depending on the size and yield of the trees!
Storage – Tamanu Oil should be stored at room temperature or hotter but extreme heat should be avoided. Precipitation can occur in cool to cold temperatures. This is where the fatty acids tend to separate out. Consequently, shake well before use and keep at room temperature.
Note: Avoid yellow-coloured or lightly coloured oil. Ignore claims of some special extraction process to explain the lighter colour. It is more likely that the oil has been mixed with some other cheap carrier oil (such as olive oil) or it has been subject to a chemical deodorizing process or it comes from the nuts of inland or inferior trees. Always look for 100% pure Tamanu Oil.
The same goes for Tamanu Oil that is black in color. Chances are that the oil is old although it will oxidize to some extent over time. Another explanation could be that the Tamanu Nuts have been thrown in the fire in a futile effort to speed up the curing process).
Tamanu Oil Skin Care
While most people are focused on anti-aging products, many are suffering from skin irritations, skin disorders, or other various skin ailments. With Tamanu oil’s incredible properties we can finally see relief from many skin issues such as:
Acne and Acne Scars Skin Rashes
Dry Itchy Skin Dermaphytosis
General Scaring Scrapes/Cuts
Stretch Marks Eczema
Athletes Foot Herpes Sores
Foot Odor Ring Worm
Sunburn Age Spots
Infected Wounds General Swelling