Caryota mitis

Common name

clustering fishtail palm

Description

Stem: Clustering, upright, to 7-10 m tall and 12-15 cm in diameter, older palms ringed with slender, widely-spaced leaf scars. Leaves: Bipinnate, induplicate, to 7 m long, with dull green, pendulous leaflets growing in one plane. The leaflets are obdeltoid and praemorse. Flowers and fruit: Inflorescences are up to 0.5 m long with many pendant branches with staminate and pistillate flowers on the same inflorescence. Fruits are up to 2.5 cm long and red-orange to black when ripe.

Diagnostic features

Clustering palms with bipinnate, praemorse leaflets

May be confused with

Caryota maxima, but C. maxima is a solitary, single stem palm that ultimately reaches a much greater height

Distribution

Native to India through Southeast Asia to Java and the Philippines

Additional comments

Extreme care is required when handling the fruits, in which calcium oxylate crystals are found.

Individual stems of this palm produce inflorescences from the highest to the lowest node (leaf scar ring) that then mature from the top down. Then the stem dies, but other stems in this clustering palm continue, producing inflorescences and dying in turn.

Scientific name

Caryota mitis Lour.

Family

Arecaceae/Palmae

Synonyms

Caryota furfuracea Blume

Caryota griffithii Becc.

Caryota javanica Zipp. ex Miq.

Caryota propinqua Blume

Caryota sobolifera Wall.

Caryota urens Jacq.

Last Updated May 2014

idtools.org