- Borassus flabellifer
Asian palmyra palm, Sugar palm
Borassus flabellifer Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae (unranked): Angiosperms (unranked): Monocots (unranked): Commelinids Order: Arecales Family: Arecaceae Genus: Borassus
Species: B. flabellifer Binomial name Borassus flabellifer
Borassus flabellifer, the Asian Palmyra palm, Toddy palm, Sugar palm, or Cambodian palm, is native to South and Southeast Asia, in the Indomalaya ecozone. It is palm tree, one of the Sugar palm group, found from Indonesia to Pakistan.
Borassus flabellifer is a robust tree and can live 100 years or more and reach a height of 30 m, with a canopy of leaves several dozen fronds spreading 3 meters across. The large trunk resembles that of the coconut tree and is ringed with leaf scars. Young palmyra palms grow slowly in the beginning but then grow faster with age.
The Borassus flabellifer plant and fruit is known as Tala in Oriya, Tnaot in Khmer, Thot Not in Vietnamese, Tari in Hindi, Tal (তাল) in Bengali, Tale Hannu or Tateningu in Kannada, Nungu(நுங்கு) in Tamil, Pana Nangu in Malayalam, Thaati Munjalu in Telugu, Munjal in Urdu, Lontar in Indonesian, Siwalan in Javanese, Ta'al in Madurese, Ton Taan in Thai, Akadiru by the East Timorese, Tao in Divehi, Tadfali (pronunciation variations are Tad-fali or Taadfali) in Gujarati, Targula in Konkani, TadGola (ताडगोळा) in Marathi and sometimes Ice-apple in British English. The fruit measures 4 to 7 inches in diameter, has a black husk, and is borne in clusters. The top portion of the fruit must be cut off to reveal the three sweet jelly seed sockets, translucent pale-white, similar to that of the lychee but with a milder flavor and no pit. The jelly part of the fruit is covered with a thin, yellowish-brown skin. These are known to contain watery fluid inside the fleshy white body. These seed sockets have been the inspiration behind certain sweets Sandesh called Jalbhara (জলভরা) found in Bengal.
The ripened fibrous outer layer of the palm fruits can also be eaten raw, boiled, or roasted. Bengali People have perfected the art of making various sweet dishes with the yellowish viscous fluidic substance obtained from a ripe palm fruit. These include Mustard oil fried Taler Bora (তালের বড়া), or mixed with thickened milk to form Taalkheer (তাল ক্ষীর).
Palm shoot is cut and the juice is traditionally collected in hanging earthen pot. The juice so collected before morning is refreshing and light drink called Neera (नीरा) in Telugu also in Marathi and "Pathaneer"(பதநீர்) in Tamil has extremely cool in sensation, and sugary sweet taste. The juice collected in evening or after fermentation becomes sour - is called Tadi (ताडी) in Marathi. Tadi is consumed by coastal Maharashtra mostly by villagers as raw alcoholic beverage.
A sugary sap, called toddy, can be obtained from the young inflorescence, either male or female ones. Toddy is fermented to make a beverage called arrack, or it is concentrated to a crude sugar called jaggery or Taal Patali (তাল পাটালী) in Bengali. It is called Gula Jawa (Javanese sugar) in Indonesia and is widely used in Javanese cuisine. In addition, the tree sap is taken as a laxative, and medicinal values have been ascribed to other parts of the plant.
In the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, India, and in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, the seeds are planted and made to germinate and the fleshy stems (below the surface) are boiled or roasted and eaten. It is very fibrous and nutritious, known as Panai Kizhangu or Panamkizhangu in Tamil and Thegalu or Gaygulu in Telugu.
The germinated seed's hard shell is also cut open to take out the crunchy kernel, which tastes like a sweeter water chestnut. It is called "dhavanai" in Tamil. The white Kernel of the ripe palm fruit after being left for a few months has got its uses. It is used as an offering in Lakshmi Puja in various parts of Bengal and is also eaten raw.
In Indonesia the leaves were used in the ancient culture as paper, known as "lontar". Leaves of suitable size, shape, texture, and maturity are chosen and then seasoned by boiling in salt water with turmeric powder, as a preservative. The leaves are then dried. When they are dry enough, the face of the leaf is polished with pumice, cut into the proper size, and a hole is made in one corner. Each leaf will make four pages. The writing is done with a stylus and has a very cursive and interconnected style. The leaves are then tied up as sheaves.
The stem of the leaves has thorny edges (called "karukku" in Tamil). Fence can be prepared from these stems by nailing it together. Skin of the stem can be peeled off and it can be used as rope. In some part of Tamilnadu, a variety of rice flour cake (called "Kolukattai") is prepared using the leaf.
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.
When the crown of the tree is removed, the segment from which the leaves grow out is an edible cake. This is called thati adda in Telugu or pananchoru in Tamil.
Borassus flabellifer, the Asian palmyra palm, at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.
Sugar Palm in Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Asian palmyra palm, at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, 1965.
The palmyra tree is the official tree of Tamil Nadu. Highly respected in Tamil culture, it is called "karpaha Veruksham" ("celestial tree") because all its parts without exception have a use. Palmyra tree is also symbol of South Sulawesi province (Indonesia).
The palm is also common in Thailand, especially in the northeast or Isaan provinces, where it is a prevailing part of the landscape.
This plant has captured the imagination of Bengalis in the words of Rabindranth Tagore whose nursery rhime 'Taal Gaach ek Paye daariye' (তাল গাছ এক পায়ে দাড়িয়ে..) in Sahaj Path (সহজ পাঠ) is a staple reading material in most schools in West Bengal
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National symbols of Cambodia
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