Palmyra palm

Borassus flabellifer (Arecaceae)

Characteristics

Robust palm tree, up to 30 m tall. Trunk grey, ringed with leaf scars (old leaves remain attached to the trunk for several years before falling cleanly). Leaves fan-shaped and 3 m long. Dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants). Fruits black to brown with sweet, fibrous pulp and each seed is enclosed within a woody endocarp. Young palmyra seedlings grow slowly, producing only a few leaves each year (establishment phase), but at an as yet undetermined time, they grow rapidly, producing a substantial stem.

Distribution

Native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Naturalized in Pakistan and parts of China. The Palmyra palm has a growth pattern, very large size, and clean habits that makes it an attractive ornamental tree, cultivated for planting in gardens and parks around the world as landscape palm species.

Natural Medical Properties

Innumerable traditional medicinal uses are known for all parts of the toddy palm.
The young plant is said to relieve biliousness, dysentery and gonorrhoea.
Young roots are anthelmintic and diuretic.A decoction is given in certain respiratory diseases. Dried roots can also be smoked to heal nasal complaints.
The ash of the flower is taken to relieve heartburn and enlarged spleen and liver.

The bark decoction, with salt, is used as a mouth wash.

A 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 the treatment of liver disorders.

When candied, it is a remedy for coughs and various pulmonary complaints.

Fresh toddy, heated to promote fermentation, is bandaged onto all kinds of ulcers.
The apical bud, leaf petioles, and dried male flower spikes all have diuretic activity.
The pulp of the mature fruit relieves dermatitis. It is also useful as an anti-inflammatory and for dropsy and gastric conditions.Also has potential immuno-suppressive action. Constituents are gum, fat and albuminoids.

Did you know?

Nearly all parts of this palm tree can be used: The fruit to eat, the sap for sugar production, the sprouts to eat, the leaves for baskets and writing material, the trunk for construction works, etc.

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species