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Caryota urens (Fishtail palm)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Monocotyledons > Order: Arecales > Family: Arecaceae > Genus: Caryota

Caryota urens (Fishtail palm)  

Caryota urens, Cape Town Company Gardens, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo H.G. Robertson, Iziko ]


Indigenous from India eastwards to Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia. It has bipinnate leaves (unique to palms) and the drooping clusters of flowers up the trunk of the tree are distinctive. It has been introduced to many countries in warm regions of the world, where it is grown mainly as an ornamental and street tree. It is also used as a source of palm sugar: the sap is collected from where flower clusters have been cut off. Up to 20 litres of sugary sap can be collected per tree per day. The sap is also fermented to produce palm wine or toddy, which when distilled, produces the spirit termed 'arrack'. These products are also produced from other palm species.



  • van Wyk, B.-E. 2005. Food Plants of the World - Identification, Culinary Uses and Nutritional Value. Briza, Pretoria.


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