Tuesday, January 02, 2007
The Fiji Dilo Tree
If only a massage with Dilo magical cream would cool the fevered brow of a few all-over-the-place guys in Suva!
When we lived beside the sea at Nukutatava not far from Labasa, there was a medicinal tree called Dilo growing near the shore. I wonder if it is still there. Other names are Calophyllum inophyllum, Clusiaceae or Alexandrian laurel. It is a low branching tree from India and the Western Pacific and grows in many islands throughout Polynesia. The Dilo tree draws its sustenance directly from nutrient rich warm waters of the ocean.
The tree grows up to 25 or even 30 metres in height, with long, spreading limbs. The tree trunk is typically thick, with dark, cracked bark. The branches are covered with shiny, dark-green oval leaves and small white flowers with yellow centres. The blossoms give off a sweet perfume.
The fruit of the tree, about the size of an apricot, has a thin flesh and a large nut hull inside. The somewhat poisonous kernel of the fruit yields "dilo oil," a thick, dark-green substance used medicinally and for lights. . The extract of the Dilo nut is believed to possess a unique capacity to enhance the skin's own repair mechanism, thereby accelerating the healing of wounds to the skin.
The reddish-brown timber is hard and straight, thus valued for making boat masts. It is also made into planks.. Because the timber does not smell or taste bad, it was also carved into food containers. The thick, dark green oil which exudes from the drying seeds was used as lamp fuel and to waterproof cloth ... The fruits are also used to make a brown dye. If the trunk is cut, it exudes a gum which solidifies. The fragrant flowers are used in leis. Traditional medicinal uses: The gum, bark, leaves, roots, flowers and the oil extracted from the seeds are used in traditional medicine for a wide range of ills. The oil is used for massages, together with coconut oil and flower fragrances. Reference:
In Fiji a Dilo Gel is produced and sold as a skin lotion, especially for sunburn or dry skin or insect bites. It has a buttery texture and replenishes dry and damaged skin.
More information about the dilo tree can be found on this website