Macadamia is a genus of four species of trees indigenous to the country of Australia. They are native to north eastern New South Wales and central and south eastern Queensland. The tree is commercially important for its fruit, the macadamia nut. Other names include Queensland nut, bush nut, maroochi nut, bauple nut, and Hawaii nut.
The macadamia tree does not begin to produce commercial quantities of seeds until it is 7–10 years old, 15 years to reach full production potential. Once established, macadamia trees may continue to bear fruit (nut) for over 100 years.
Besides consumable values of macadamia nut, the macadamia oil is prized for its skincare and cosmetic uses containing approximately 22% of the omega-7 palmitoleic acid and high oxidative stability makes it a botanical alternative to mink oil.
Hawai’i Get Nuts!
Macadamia seeds were first imported to the Hawaiian Islands sometime between 1881-1882 by William Herbert Purvis. As the manager of the Pacific Sugar Mill at Kukuihaele on the north coast of the Big Island, Purvis planted the seeds in Kapulena, near Waipio Valley. The macadamia trees thrived, but were grown just as ornamental plants for many years before commercial productivity. [In 1883 William Herbert Purvis introduced the mongoose to Hawai’i to control the sugarcane field rat infestation.]
Hawaii’s macadamia industry is valued at $175 million annually. The majority of macadamia production is on the Big Island of Hawaii, covering over 20,200 acres of land.
Taste Of The Tropics
Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation is the world’s largest processor of macadamia seeds. The company was a subsidiary of The Hershey Company from 2004 to 2015, when it was acquired by Hawaiian Host, Inc. The company takes its name from the volcano Mauna Loa. Their headquarters and main processing plant are near the mountain, south of Hilo in the Puna District of the island of Hawai’i, known as the Big Island.
The original Mauna Loa macadamia orchard plantation was established in 1949. The very first macadamia nut trees were planted early that year near Kea’au on the Big Island of Hawaii, where the company still calls home. The first commercial crop was harvested in 1956.
The company promotes sustainable green causes, and is slowly working to become totally carbon neutral by reducing its dependence on conventionally generated electricity – particularly those involving coal and crude oil. At the main production facility, the company owns its own steam generator, which uses plant waste to generate electricity used in the harvesting and packaging of its macadamia seeds.
Visitors Center & Tourist Attraction
A 3 mile drive through the macadamia nut tree orchard will bring you to the Mauna Loa Visitors Center. The self-guided tour of the processing plant ends at the large gift shop with homemade macadamia ice cream and every mac nut flavor variation sold by the company.
The Hawaiian macadamia nut tree orchard is located on Macadamia Road, southeast of Hilo, near the town of Kea’au, Puna District.