Overview

Comprehensive Description

Brief

Flowering class: Monocot Habit: Tree Distribution notes: Exotic
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Distribution

"
Global Distribution

Native of Africa; introduced and cultivated in Indo-Malesia and Australia

Indian distribution

State - Kerala, District/s: All Districts

"
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Distribution: Probably native to India. Rarely cultivated in Pakistan (Karachi).
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Borassus flabelliformis Murray:
Honduras (Mesoamerica)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Borassus flabellifer L.:
Burma (Asia)
Bangladesh (Asia)
Cambodia (Asia)
Gabon (Africa & Madagascar)
Indonesia (Asia)
India (Asia)
Laos (Asia)
Sri Lanka (Asia)
Thailand (Asia)
United States (North America)
China (Asia)
Vietnam (Asia)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Solitary palm with rough and black stem, 20-25 (-30) m tall. Petiole 60-120 cm, semiterete, edges with hard irregular spines; leaf blade 60-120 cm long, segments 60-80, linear-lanceolate, induplicate. Male inflorescence 90-150 cm long, with c. 7 primary branches, secondary branches c. 30 cm long, c. 2 cm in diameter; sepals narrowly cuneate with truncate inflexed tips; petals shorter, obovate-spathulate; anthers subsessile, large; female inflorescence with flowering portion to 30 cm long, 2.5 cm in diameter, flowers 8-16, spirally arranged, c. 2.5 cm in diameter; sepals fleshy, reniform; petals smaller; ovary subtrigonous; stigmas sessile, recurved. Fruits broadly ovoid, 15-20 cm in diameter, mesocarp fibrous and fleshy. Pyrenes usually 3, obcordate, 6-7 mm broad, black.
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Diagnostic Description

Diagnostic

"Trees to 40 m; stem obscurely hoped. Leaves simple, palmate, plicately multifid; leaflets 60-80, induplicate, apex acuminate; petiole stout, spinous, base broad, split. Spadices interfoliar, large, dioecious, branched; peduncle sheathed with open spathes. Male flowers small, clustered; bracts scaly, secund, overlapping. Sepals 3, oblong, to 3 mm. Petals 3, obovate-spathulate, to 2 mm. Stamens 6; anthers to 1 mm; pistillodes small, bristly. Female flowers large, globose. Perianth fleshy, accrescent. Sepals reniform, imbricate. Petals smaller, convolute. Ovary globose, entire or 3-or-1-cleft, 3-or 4-celled; ovules basal; stigmas 3, sessile, recurved; staminodes 6-9. Drupes to 13 cm across, globose, yellow when ripe, with 1-3 compressed pyrenes."
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Ecology

Habitat

General Habitat

In dry areas and along bunds in paddy fields
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering and fruiting: March-September
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Borassus flabellifer

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Borassus flabellifer

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 12
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Uses

Medicinal
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Wikipedia

Borassus flabellifer

Borassus flabellifer, the Asian palmyra palm, toddy palm, sugar palm, or Cambodian palm, is native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, in the Indomalaya ecozone. It is a palm tree, one of the sugar palm group.

Description[edit]

Borassus flabellifer is a robust tree and can live more than 100 years and reach a height of 30 metres (98 ft), with a canopy of green-bluish, leaves several dozen fronds spreading 3 m (9.8 ft) across. The very large trunk resembles that of the coconut tree and is ringed with leaf scars. Young palmyra palms grow slowly in the beginning but then grow faster with age.

Uses[edit]

Fruit[edit]

Main article: Palmyra fruit

Palm fruit sherbath, Tamil Nadu, India.
Edible jelly seeds of palmyra palm, Guntur, India

Nungu(நுங்கு) in Tamil,Tale Hannu or Taati ningu(ತಾಳೆ ಹಣ್ಣು / ತಾಳೆ ನಿಂಗು) in Kannada, Taati Munjalu (తాటి ముంజలు) in Telugu, The Borassus flabellifer plant and fruit is known as Tal gaha in Sinhala, Tala in Oriya, Tnaot (Khmer: ត្នោត) in Khmer, Thốt Nốt in Vietnamese, Tari in Hindi, Taal (তাল) in Bengali, , Pana Nangu(ml:പനം നൊങ്ക്)in MalayalamMunjal in Urdu, Lontar in Indonesian, Siwalan in Javanese, Ta'al in Madurese, Ton Taan (th:ตาล) in Thai, Akadiru by the East Timorese, Tao in Divehi, Tadfali (pronunciation variations are Tad-fali or Taadfali) in Gujarati, Targula in Konkani, Tadgola (ताडगोळा) in Marathi and sometimes Ice-apple in British English especially by the immigrants living in India. The fruit measures 4 to 7 inches in diameter, has a black husk, and is borne in clusters. The top portion of the fruit must be cut off to reveal the three sweet jelly seed sockets, translucent pale-white, similar to that of the lychee but with a milder flavor and no pit. The jelly part of the fruit is covered with a thin, yellowish-brown skin. These are known to contain watery fluid inside the fleshy white body. These seed sockets have been the inspiration behind certain sweets Sandesh called Jalbhara (জলভরা) found in Bengal.

The ripened fibrous outer layer of the palm fruits can also be eaten raw, boiled, or roasted. Bengali People have perfected the art of making various sweet dishes with the yellowish viscous fluidic substance obtained from a ripe palm fruit. These include Mustard oil fried Taler Bora (তালের বড়া), or mixed with thickened milk to form Taalkheer (তাল ক্ষীর). Palmyra Tuber Palm shoot is cut and the juice is traditionally collected in hanging earthen pot. The juice so collected before morning is refreshing and light drink called Thaati Kallu (తాటి కల్లు) in Telugu, Neera (नीरा) in Marathi and "Pathaneer" (பதநீர்) in Tamil has extremely cool in sensation, and sugary sweet taste. The juice collected in evening or after fermentation becomes sour - is called Tadi (ताडी) in Marathi. Tadi is consumed by coastal Maharashtra mostly by villagers as raw alcoholic beverage.

A sugary sap, called toddy, can be obtained from the young inflorescence, either male or female ones. Toddy is fermented to make a beverage called arrack, or it is concentrated to a crude sugar called jaggery or Taal Patali (তাল পাটালী) in Bengali and Pana Vellam or Karuppukatti (கருப்புகட்டி or கருபட்டி) in Tamil. It is called Gula Jawa (Javanese sugar) in Indonesia and is widely used in Javanese cuisine. In addition, the tree sap is taken as a laxative, and medicinal values have been ascribed to other parts of the plant.

Sprouts[edit]

Main article: Palmyra sprout

In the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Bihar India, and in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, the seeds are planted and made to germinate and the fleshy stems (below the surface) are boiled or roasted and eaten. It is very fibrous and nutritious, Thegalu (తేగలు) or Gaygulu (గేగులు) or Gengulu (గెంగులు)(especially in Telangana areas) in Telugu and known as Panai Kizhangu or Panangkizhangu (பனங்கிழங்கு) in Tamil.

The germinated seed's hard shell is also cut open to take out the crunchy kernel, which tastes like a sweeter water chestnut. It is called "thavanai" in Tamil. The white Kernel of the ripe palm fruit after being left for a few months has got its uses. It is used as an offering in Lakshmi Puja in various parts of Bengal and is also eaten raw.

Leaves

Female tree, showing foliage crown with fruit
Male tree with flower
Sugar palm as seen in Mumbai,India

The 'Borassus flabellifer leaves are used for thatching, mats, baskets, fans, hats, umbrellas, and as writing material.

All the literature of the old Tamil was written in preserved Palm leaves also known as Palm-leaf_manuscript. In Tamil Yaedu or Olai chuvadi. It was written with a sharpened iron piece called a Eluthani (எழுத்தாணி in Tamil).

In Indonesia the leaves were used in the ancient culture as paper, known as "lontar". Leaves of suitable size, shape, texture, and maturity are chosen and then seasoned by boiling in salt water with turmeric powder, as a preservative. The leaves are then dried. When they are dry enough, the face of the leaf is polished with pumice, cut into the proper size, and a hole is made in one corner. Each leaf will make four pages. The writing is done with a stylus and has a very cursive and interconnected style. The leaves are then tied up as sheaves.

The stem of the leaves has thorny edges (called "karukku" in Tamil). Fence can be prepared from these stems by nailing it together. Skin of the stem can be peeled off and it can be used as rope and also used to weave into cots (நாற்கட்டில் in Tamil). In some part of Tamil Nadu, a variety of rice flour cake (called "Kolukattai") is prepared using the leaf.

Trunk[edit]

The stalks are used to make fences and also produce a strong, wiry fiber suitable for cordage and brushes. The black timber is hard, heavy, and durable and is highly valued for construction. In Cambodia, the trunk are also used to make a canoe.

The young plants are cooked as a vegetable or roasted and pounded to make meal.

Crown[edit]

When the crown of the tree is removed, the segment from which the leaves grow out is an edible cake. This is called thati adda(తాటి అడ్డ/తాటి మట్ట) in Telugu or pananchoru in Tamil. Palmyra Tuber Palmyra tuber has 98% fibre that means up to 95% is starch content which will be not suitable for sugar patients in large amounts.

Cultivation[edit]

Borassus flabellifer has a growth pattern, very large size, and clean habits that make it an attractive ornamental tree, cultivated for planting in gardens and parks as landscape palm species.

Cultural symbolism[edit]

Borassus flabellifer in Cambodia, 1965.
  • The palmyra tree is the official tree of Tamil Nadu. Highly respected in Tamil culture, it is called "karpaha Veruksham" ("celestial tree") because all its parts without exception have a use. Panaiveriyamman, named after panai, the Tamil name for the Palmyra palm, is an ancient tree deity related to fertility linked to this palm. This deity is also known as Taalavaasini, a name that further relates her to all types of palms.[1]
  • The Asian palmyra palm is a symbol of Cambodia where it is a very common palm, found all over the country. It grows also near the Angkor Wat temple.[2]
  • The palm is also common in Thailand, especially in the northeast or Isaan area, where it is a prevailing part of the landscape.
  • This plant has captured the imagination of Bengalis in the words of Rabindranth Tagore whose nursery rhyme 'Taal Gaach ek Paye daariye' (তাল গাছ এক পায়ে দাড়িয়ে..) in Sahaj Path (সহজ পাঠ) is a staple reading material in most schools in West Bengal

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Heinrich Zimmer, Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization. (1946)
  2. ^ The Cambodian palm tree
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Notes

Comments

Economically Palmyra palm is very important. It is a source of sugar and toddy, the sweet sap is extracted from the cut made in the inflorescence from which the juice exudes. The endosperm of young fruit is juicy and edible.
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