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Borneo tallow nut (Shorea stenoptera) oil meal


Click on the "Nutritional aspects" tab for recommendations for ruminants, pigs, poultry, rabbits, horses, fish and crustaceans
Common names 

Borneo tallow nut, borneo tallow nut [English]; Illipé de Bornéo [French], portianak, tengkawang tayau, tengkawang tungkul [Bahasa indonesia]; engkabang kerangas, engkabang rusa [Bahasa malaysia]


Borneo tallow nut oil cake is the product resulting from the oil extraction of the fruit of Shorea stenoptera, a tropical tree from Indonesia and Malaysia.


Shorea stenoptera is a tree with two genetic types: a large type that becomes 40 m or more in height and has thick branches extended upward, and a small type that is usually shorter than 20 m and has slender branchers hanging down (Suzuki, 1989). The bole is straight, up to 60-70 cm in diameter, with thin, low buttresses.The crown is conical to hemispherical in shape with pendulous branches. The leaves are simple, oblong, thickly leathery, 18-40 cm long × 8-22 cm broad. The fruits are acornlike, large (the largest in the Shorea genus), up to 45 g, equipped with winglike attachments that enable the nut to fall clear of the parent tree (Fern, 2021; Sosef, 1993; Talbot, 2015).


Shorea stenoptera is mainly used for the oil extracted from its seeds, which contain generally 43 to 61% oil though values as high as 70% have been reported (Bolton et al., 1924; Darmawan et al., 2021). This oil is highly saturated, rich in stearic acic, with a high melting point and solid at room temperature, which makes it a valued food ingredient, able to replace milk butter or cocoa butter, and an ingredient in cosmetics. One advantage of this fat is that its price is lower than cocoa butter. However, the commercial exploitation of Shorea stenoptera is made difficult by the fact that the tree flowers only every 6–7 years and availability can vary between 2000 and 25,000 t of nuts. Also, wild trees are often found on riverbanks and part of the production falls into the river as well as on the ground (Talbot, 2015). In river areas bamboo fences and booms are constructed to trap the fruits flowing down stream (Axtell et al., 1992).

In addition to its use as a substitute, local communities widely use it as a raw material for cooking oil and margarine (Darmawan et al., 2021). The fat is named Borneo tallow, tangkawang, false illipe butter or illipe butter. This latter name is a source of confusion: the European Directive on chocolate (EU, 2000) calls "illipe butter" the fat from Shorea species and authorizes its use as substitute for cocoa butter, but illipe is also the name of the tree Madhuca longifolia, which produces an oil also called mowhra fat (Talbot, 2015). In addition, other Shorea species (Shorea pinanga and Shorea seminis, and potentially Shorea macrophylla and Shorea mecistopteryx) yield tangkawang fat. The coproduct of the oil extraction can be fed to farm animals. The tree yields a valuable timber known as light red meranti (Fern, 2021; Darmawan et al., 2021; Sosef, 1993).


Shorea stenoptera is endemic to Indonesia (Kalimantan) and Malaysia (Sarawak) (Randi et al., 2019). It is mainly found in heath forest on poorly drained sandy soils and podzols at low altitudes (Sosef, 1993). Shorea stenoptera is tolerant of flooding. It is mainly found in the wild but some specimen may be grown in agroforestry systems, in rubber plantations, for example (Nöldeke et al., 2021).


The fallen nuts are collected from the ground. Several methods have been reported for shelling the nuts. In one method, the nuts are packed into cases and submerged in streams for 2-4 weeks, until the seed begins to germinate: the shell starts to crack and the seed can be removed manually. Another method consists in removing the wings by beating them and then burying the nuts in shallow pits, where germination starts and splits the shell. The shells can also be broken directly with a sharp instrument, or loosen by heating the fruits in kilns at 55°C, after which the shells can be removed by hand (Axtell et al., 1992). Unless they have already been dried during the shelling process, the kernels are sun-dried or smoke-dried to reduce the moisture content down to 15–20% (from the 40-50% moisture of the fruit). The kernels are usually solvent extracted and the process is traditionally carried out using a device known as an "apit" with a production capacity of 4-5 kg of fat in one operation (Darmawan et al., 2021; Fern, 2021).

Forage management 

Shorea stenoptera is generally not cultivated and its nuts are harvested in the wild, but plantations exist in Borneo, notably in the West Kalimantan province. The tree bears fruit only when it is at least 18-25 years old, and trees of 30 to 100 years can produce as much as 250- 400 kg of fruits per tree. Yields of 1,138 kg/ha of dried kernels have been reported (Darmawan et al., 2021). When fruiting happens, it takes place between September and November with the fruits ripening some 3–4 months later (Talbot, 2015).

Environmental impact 

Near threathened species

Shorea stenoptera has been classified as near threatened species in Indonesia and Malaysia (Randi et al., 2019).

Agroforestry systems and ecosystemic services

Shorea stenoptera is a valuable agroforestry species. It can be grown in association with rubber trees in plantations where it helps biomass accumulation and carbon sequestration. It is particularly suitable on tropical peatlands as it prevents carbon losses from the peat.  It has been used in peatland restoration in China (MICCA, 2015). The canopy cover provides habitat to orangutan and other species, preserving local biodiversity (Nöldeke et al., 2021).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Very little information exists about the value of the oil meal of Shorea stenoptera, and, as of 2021, the only data available were those reported in 1958 (Kneeland, 1958). The product described is of moderate protein content (12-18% DM) and very low fibre (crude fibre 5-7% DM) and fat content (2-3% DM), which may indicate a large amount of carbohydrates, perhaps starch. It should thus be a good source of energy, though the presence of tannins may limit its use.

Potential constraints 

The fruits and the byproducts of Shorea stenoptera, like those of other Shorea species, contain tannins that limit their use in livestock feeding (Göhl, 1982).


No information was found on the use of Shorea stenoptera oil meal in ruminants. It should be possible to use it at low levels as a source of energy.


The oil meal obtained from several Indonesian species of Shorea, including Shorea stenoptera, could be used as a 10% supplement in feed for pigs (Jemima et al., 1978).


The Shorea stenoptera oil meal contains tannins and should not be fed to chicks. Diets for layers should include not more than 10% as higher levels will produce eggs with greenish brown yolks (Göhl, 1982).


No information seems available in the international literature (as of May 2020) on the use of Shorea stenoptera oil meal in rabbit feeding. The fat being an authorized chocolate substitute and the few data that exists in other species indicate that it could be considered as a potential feed in formulation of rabbit feeds, but direct experiments are necessary before any recommendation of use. One potential constraint is the residual content in highly saturated lipids. Because of the great ability of the rabbit to fix dietary lipids in its own lipids, the use of this oil cake would induce an alteration of the lipid profile of rabbit meat (Lebas, 2007). Including Borneo nut oil cake in rabbit diets would reduce the relatively high content of rabbit meat in linolenic and docosahexanoic acids (Van Lissum et al., 2019) and increase stearic and palmitic acids (Gunstone, 2006), both undesirable fatty acids for humans consuming rabbit meat.

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

The estimated energy values do not take into account the negative effects of tannins and may overestimate the value of the product.

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 89.4   89.1 89.8 2  
Crude protein % DM 14.6   11.7 17.5 2  
Crude fibre % DM 5.7   4.6 6.8 2  
Ether extract % DM 2.6   2 3.1 2  
Ash % DM 3   2.2 3.8 2  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.4         *
Fatty acids Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Myristic acid C14:0 % fatty acids 0.05          
Palmitic acid C16:0 % fatty acids 17.7          
Stearic acid C18:0 % fatty acids 43.7          
Oleic acid C18:1 % fatty acids 32.7          
Linoleic acid C18:2 % fatty acids 0.9          
Linolenic acid C18:3 % fatty acids 0.1          
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 81.2         *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 15         *
MEn growing pig MJ/kg DM 14.5         *
NE growing pig MJ/kg DM 11.4         *
Nitrogen digestibility, growing pig % 83.6         *
Poultry nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
AMEn cockerel MJ/kg DM 15.3         *
AMEn broiler MJ/kg DM 15.2         *
Ruminants nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 90.4         *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 87.9         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 13.4         *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 74.4         *
Rabbit nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE rabbit MJ/kg DM 14.5         *
MEn rabbit MJ/kg DM 13.8         *
Energy digestibility, rabbit % 78.3         *
Nitrogen digestibility, rabbit % 77.3         *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Kneeland, 1958

Last updated on 18/11/2021 23:09:42

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Lebas F., 2021. Borneo tallow nut (Shorea stenoptera) oil meal. Feedipedia, a programme by INRAE, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/24 Last updated on November 18, 2021, 23:12