General description

Borassus flabellifer is a robust tree and can reach a height of 30 metres. The male flowers are less than 1 cm long and form semi-circular clusters, which are hidden beneath scale-like bracts within the catkin-like inflorescences. In contrast, the female flowers are golfball-sized and solitary, sitting upon the surface of the inflorescence axis. The fruits are black to brown with sweet, fibrous pulp.

Cooking

  • Fruit : Eat when the outer casing is still unripe while the seeds are eaten as the fruit. But if the entire fruit is left to ripen, the fibrous outer layer of the palm fruits can also be eaten raw, boiled, or roasted. When this happens, the fruit takes a purple-blackish hue and tastes similar to coconut flesh. The skin is also eaten as part of the fruit similar to how mango skins are often consumed along with the fruit. Small fruits are pickled in vinegar. The pulp of mature fruits is sucked directly from the wiry fibers of roasted, peeled fruits. It is also extracted to prepare a product called punatoo in Ceylon. It is eaten alone or with the starch from the palmyra seedlings).
  • Sap : Obtaining the sap traditionally involves tapping the top shoots and collecting the dripping juice in hanging earthen pots. This sap was the main source of sugar production in Thailand even before sugarcane, as for the vocabulary Nahm-Taal  which used to call any kind of sugar in Thailand literally means the water of tala palm. The toddy ferments naturally within a few hours after sunrise and is locally popular as a beverage; it is distilled to produce the alcoholic liquor called palm wine, arrack, or arak. Rubbing the inside of the toddy-collecting receptacle with lime paste prevents fermentation, and thereafter the sap is referred to as sweet toddy, which yields concentrated or crude sugar (gur in India; jaggery in Ceylon); molasses, palm candy, and vinegar.
  • Sprouts : The seeds are planted and made to germinate and the fleshy stems (below the surface) are boiled or roasted and eaten
  • Seedlings : The peeled seedlings are eaten fresh or sun-dried, raw, or cooked in various ways. They also yield starch, which is locally made into gruel, with rice, herbs, chili peppers, fish, or other ingredients added. It has been proposed for commercial starch production.

Benefits

  • Leaves : are used for thatching, mats, baskets, fans, hats, umbrellas, and as writing material.
  • The skin of the stem can be peeled off and be used as rope and also used to weave into cots
  • 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.
  • Crown : When the crown of the tree is removed, the segment from which the leaves grow out is an edible cake
  • Palmyra palm jaggery (gur) is much more nutritious than crude cane sugar, containing 1.04% protein, 0.19% fat, 76.86% sucrose, 1.66% glucose, 3.15% total minerals, 0.861 % calcium, 0.052% phosphorus; also 11.01 mg iron per 100 g and 0.767 mg of copper per 100 g. The fresh sap is reportedly a good source of vitamin B complex.
  • The fresh pulp is reportedly rich in vitamins A and C.
  • The young plant is said to relieve biliousness, dysentery, and gonorrhea
  • Young roots are diuretic and anthelmintic, and a decoction is given in certain respiratory diseases
  • The ash of the spadix is taken to relieve heartburn and enlarged spleen and liver
  • The bark decoction, with salt, is used as a mouth wash, and charcoal made of the bark serves as a dentifrice
  • Sap from the flower stalk is prized as a tonic, diuretic, stimulant, laxative and anti phlegmatic and amebicide
  • Sugar made from this sap is said to counteract poisoning, and it is prescribed in liver disorders
  • The cabbage, leaf petioles, and dried male flower spikes all have diuretic activity.
  • The pulp of the mature fruit relieves dermatitis.
  • A study proved that it shows activity against acute and especially chronic inflammation and it has analgesic and antioxidant properties

Side effects

  • The fleshy, food storage scales of the young shoot of the palmyrah palm when fed to rats for 5 days, produced liver damage and death. A second study asserted that these neurotoxic symptoms can be eliminated by heating the palmyrah flour at 80 degrees C for 45 min; that is, detoxification. More data is needed
Categories: Plants