Caryota furfuracea Blume
Caryota griffithii Becc.
Caryota javanica Zipp. ex Miq.
Caryota nana Linden
Caryota propinqua Blume
Caryota sobolifera Wall. ex Mart.
Caryota speciosa Linden
Drymophloeus zippellii Hassk.
Thuessinkia speciosa Korth.
Common Name: Burmese Fishtail Palm
Photograph by: Ria Tan
Burmese fishtail palm is a multi-stemmed, clustering, evergreen palm tree growing around 8 metres tall and 4 metres across at the top[
]. The unbranched stems are about 15cm in diameter[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a source of food and materials. A highly ornamental palm tree, it is often grown in gardens of the tropical to warm temperate zones[
The fruit contain crystal oxalate which is an irritant to eyes and skin[
E. Asia -southern China, Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines.
Valley forests in southern China[
]. Tropical rainforests[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Plants grow best in high-rainfall tropical areas, but succeed at higher elevations and also in warm tropical areas[
This attractive palm prefers a shaded, well drained position[
]. It doesn't like full sun and being tropical, it also doesn't like to get too dry[
The species in this genus are monocarpic, growing for several years (in some species 15 years or more) without flowering, but then flowering and fruiting profusely over several years before dying[
Before reaching maturity, selected inflorescences are prepared for tapping by beating with a wooden stick and are then tied with a string to keep them in a proper shape. If possible, a number of inflorescences are tied together. A concoction of herbs, salt and ash may be applied to the tip of the inflorescence. Tapping begins 3 - 4 days later by making a fine angular slash. A receptacle, usually a piece of bamboo, is hung under the tapping point to catch the sap. The inflorescence is cut afresh in the morning and evening for 3 - 4 months, until none remains[
]. In India lime or powdered bark of tannin-rich trees is added to the collection pots, to prevent early fermentation[
The very young, unfolded leaves are eaten as a vegetable[
]. A slightly bitter flavour[
]. Cooked and eaten with rice[
]. Although harvesting the apical bud will kill the individual stem (since it is unable to produce side shoots), this species forms a number of stems from the base and so can survive this treatment[
A starch obtained from the trunk is used as sago[
]. Because the outside stem is very tough, the plant tends to get utilized for its starch mainly in times of food shortage[
Seed - edible after removing the poisonous fruit wall[
The seeds can be used as a masticatory in place of betel nut (Areca catechu)[
The sap from the inflorescences is tapped and used for making sugar, alcoholic beverages etc[
After harvest the sap may be boiled in an open pan to produce jaggery. If the sap is allowed to ferment for 12 hours it turns into a pale or cloudy wine with a rather sour taste. Fermented toddy may still be boiled down to a thick syrup and be preserved as a treacle. The treacle can be allowed to crystallize to form a sweetmeat[
A fibre is obtained from the leaf petioles[
The leaf sheath fibre ('kittul') from plants in this genus is durable and is often harvested as a source of thatch, cordage, and to make brushes and brooms[
]. The fibre becomes very pliable after being steeped in linseed oil[
The woolly hairs on the leaf sheaths, petioles and rachis can be used as tinder or as wadding. They may also be used to caulk wooden boats[
The finer fibre can also be spun into fishing lines or coarse threads for sewing[
Seed - usually takes 3 - 4 months to germinate[
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