josef george kamel, s.j. drawing of pili
Pili [Canarium ovatum Engl. Syn. Canarium pachyphyllum Perkins, Canarium melioides Elmer] Pili is associated with the Bicol region, where the nut is roasted or boiled and used in various sweet culinary preparations like mazapan (marzipan) de pili, pili nut brittle, pastilles and so forth. The oily nut’s mild flavor similar to almond blends well with ice cream and other baked goods. It goes well too roasted and salted.
While the nut is well-known through out the Philippines because it is a favorite pasalubong from Bicol, the violet fruit is hardly known except in Bicol, where it is first blanched or boiled briefly. Then, the fruit is dipped in patis (fish sauce) and eaten skin and pulp, until the hard seed is all that remains.
Pili is endemic to the Philippines where it grows wild in low and medium elevation primary forests in Southern Luzon, parts of the Visayas and Mindanao. While pili is an important crop it is not grown commercially in orchards as most nuts come from the wild.
The tree is a handsome evergreen rising to up to 20 meters. It is highly resistant to wind as its trunk is generally free of branches and branching limited to the upper part of the trunk. Pili lumber is resinous.