Fishtail palm (Caryota urens)

Fishtail Palm berriesFishtail palms are large trees, at least 18 meters (60 feet) tall. The trees have a solitary trunk growing to about 1 foot wide.  Leaf scar rings can be found scattered along the gray trunk.  Their leaves are unlike those of any other palm; the leaflets are irregular and toothed on the upper margins. They are triangle shaped, bright to deep green.  All other palms have either fan-shaped or featherlike leaves. Its massive white flowering cluster is borne at the top of the tree and hangs downward.  The fruit is small, red in color, and contains a single seed.

Fishtail PalmWhere to Find: The fishtail palm is native to the tropics of India, Assam, and Myanmar. Several related species also exist in Southeast Asia and the Philippines. These palms are found in open hill country and jungle areas.  They tend to grow in fields and rain-forest clearings.

Edible Parts: Fishtail PalmThe chief food in this palm is the starch stored in large quantities in its trunk. The juice from the fishtail palm is very nourishing and you have to drink it shortly after getting it from the palm flower shoot. Boil the juice down to get a rich sugar syrup or ferment the juice into wine. The pulp of the fruits should not be eaten however the kernel is edible.  The growing tip of the Fishtail Palm is also edible.

Note: The fruit contains a chemical that can cause a stinging sensation.  It should be completed cleaned of its stinging outer flesh.

Other Uses: The wood can be used to make spears and used like gutters to move water.

Fishtail Palm triangular shaped leaves

Fishtail Palm foliage

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Fishtail Palm

Fishtail Palm in the wild

Fishtail Palm (note triangular leaves in foreground)

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