Pili is an erect and spreading tree, deciduous, predominantly dioecious, medium-sized to large, reaching up to 30 meters or more, with trunk diameters of 50 centimeters or more. Leaves have deltoid to lingulate stipules, spirally arranged, imparipinnate, about 40 centimeters long. Leaflets are ovate to elliptic, 4 to 24 centimeters long and 2 to 12 centimeters wide, stiff-coriaceous, entire, base oblique, rounded to subcordate, apex acuminate with 8 to 12 pairs of nerves. Flowers are borne on cymose inflorescences at the leaf axils of young shoots.
The fruit or nut, botanically a drupe, ovoid to ellipsoid, 4 to 7 centimeters long, 2.3 to 3.8 centimeters wide. Pulp has a thin skin, smooth and shiny, turning from light green to black when ripened. Shell is carpellary, elongated and trigonous, nearly triangular in transverse sections, with a basal pointed end, and a blunt and obtuse apical end, dirty brown outside, shiny and glabrous inside. Inside the shell is the functional locule containing the mature seed.
– Seed kernel.
– Oleoresin (mixture of oil and resin).
– Young shoots are edible, used for cooking and making green salads.
– Pili nut kernel is edible, crispy and delicious.
– Nut in candied in various forms: sugar-glazed, honeyed.
– Pili “turron” is made from a mixture of ground pili kernel, sweet potato and sugar, seasoned with sesame and vanilla, mixed and cooked to desired consistency, cooked, and cut.
– Pili pudding is made from mashed sweet potato, ground pili kernel, condensed milk, butter, sugar and eggs, vanilla seasoning, then baked to a light brown color.
– Kernel seeds are roasted and eaten as nuts. Roasted and sugar-coated, usee as ingredient to cakes, puddings and creams, or preserved in syrup. Roasted kernel sometimes used in chocolate-making.
– Green pulp can be pickled, best after the shell has hardened but before the pulp becomes too fibrous.- Boiled ripe pulp is edible, best with salt, pepper and fish sauce.
– In Sorsogon, the nut concoction is called “nilanta”—boiled in hot water to soften, seasoned with soy sauce, bagoong, and sili.
– Sahing (oleoresin) is used in the Philippines as stimulant, rubefacient, and antirheumatic. Elsewhere, as ointment, the oleoresin is applied to indolent ulcers.Folkloric
– For laxative effect, seed kernel is eaten as tolerated.
– Emulsion from crushed kernels has been used as substitute for infant’s milk.
– Used for making medicinal ointments.Others
– Firewood: Resin-rich wood makes it excellent firewood.
– Wood: Wood used for house framing, musical instruments and box-making.
– Oil: Oil from the pulp has been used for manufacture of soap and other products.
– Soil improver: The hard stony shell makes for excellent fuel and used as growing medium for orchids and anthuriums. (Coronel 1983)
– Gum / Resin: The valuable resin, Manila elemi or ‘breabianca’, is used in the manufacture of plastics, printing inks, and perfumes. Also used by Spaniards for ship repairs. (13)
– Manila elemi: Exported in considerable quantities. Used in the preparation of medicinal ointments; also, in the manufacture of varnish.