Family Arecaceae

Areca catechu

pinang sireh, betel

SE Asia. Widely cultivated. Seed treats diarrhea, half-ripe seed pounded
for skin ointment. Mild narcotic, sliced endosperm of the seed eaten
with betel leaves, lime, gambier or cutch.

Areca catachu.
Areca catechu var. alba


pinang putih

This specimen from Dato Lim Chong Keat 6/05

Areca catachu var. alba.
Arenga caudata


(tailed, bearing a tail)

Thailand. Distinctive wedge shaped leaflets with variously lobed and
lacerated margins and long drawn out tail at apex. Glossy green above,
glaucous below. Dense clumps to 2m. Previously known as Didymosperma

Arenga pinnata

enau, kabong

Thought to be wild in Assam and Burma, widely cultivated for gula
melaka. Massive solitary palm to 20 m with steeply ascending plume-like
leaves to 15m x 3m. Massive inflorescence, flowers from top to bottom
then trunk dies. Cabbage edible, fibre important.

Areca triandra



India, Andamans, Indo-China, Sumatra, Borneo, Philippines. Common
Areca in mountain forest. Solitary or in small clumps, rarely 7m,
crown shaft slightly swollen, green. Leaves with broad prominently
nerved, v. dark green leaflets. Pale inflorescence conspicuous and
lemony fragrant.

Arenga hookeriana



Borassodendron machadonis


Subfamily: Borassoideae

S.Siam, N. Malaya, NE Borneo . Stout solitary fan palms, broad flopping
leaflets. Dioecious. Inflorescences stout, little branched, amongst
leaves hanging from leaf axils. Male flowers in groups of 2-6, covered
in overlapping bracts, female much larger. Beware sharp leaf stalks.

Borassus flabellifer

lontar, tal, shu tou chung

One variable species from Africa to New Guinea. Not wild in Malaya,
monsoonal. Solitary fan palm to 20 m, dense stiff blue green crown.
Fruits to 8″ across, ripening yellow, with 3 hard seeds. Inflorescences
hang through split leaf bases, produce toddy & sugar.

Caryota mitis

rabok, tukas

Indo-China, Burma, Thailand, Andamans, Malaya. Lowlands. Clumping
fishtail palm. Poisonous with irritant crystals. Leaves twice pinnate
with fan like terminal leaflet. Only palm common in secondary forest.
Fluff from leaves and sheathes is used for tinder. Flowers down from
stem tip.

Caryota no


Borneo. Solitary fishtail palm, leaves bi-pinnate. Tree up to 20m.
Strongly ascending leaves up to 5m long & 4m wide. Lateral stalks
but not midribs often drooping, leaflets semi-pendulous. Inflorescence
2m long, cream flowers, fruits ripen to purplish black. Edible cabbage.

Cocos nucifera


Pan tropic. Unknown in the wild. To 30m or more. Leaves 7m with over
100 close regular pointed leaflets held flat in one plane. Inflorescences
over 1m, flowers fragrant, attract bees. Produces material for all
purposes: building, medicinal, food, fibre. Can produce 365 fruits
a year.

Corypha utan

(previously Corypha elata syn.)

gebang, ibus

S. India, Sri Lanka, drier Malesia to Australia. Huge solitary fan
palm, dies after fruiting once. Tree like terminal inflorescence.
Trunk to 20m, persistent leaf bases. Contains up to 70kgs sago, lives
50 to 70 years. Leaves used in India for permanent documents, finer
than B. flabellifer.

Cyrtostachys renda

(previously Cyrtostachys lakka)

pinang raja

Malaya, Borneo. Common in peat swamp forest, clump forming feather
palm with scarlet crown shafts. Stems hooped, leaves stiffly oblique.
Inflorescence below crown shaft, branches, bearing sunken spirally
arranged flowers in triads, female flanked by twinning males.

Iguanura geonomiformis

Genera c. 20 spp., c. 6 in Malaya. This sp. endemic Malaya. Small
clustering, in forest undergrowth, leaves simple with deeply forked
tip. No visible crown shaft Narrowly branched inflorescence. Fruits
ellipsoid, white.

Iguanura sp.
Johannesteijsmannia altifrons


Thailand, Malaya, Sumatra, Borneo. With tall fronds. Threatened by forest disturbance, seed harvesting, land conversion. Creeping sub-terranean trunk & cluster of up to 30 leaves up to 6m ling with petiole of 2.5m. White sour smelling flowers, corky fruits.

Johannesteijsmannia lanceolata Johannesteysmannia lanceolata.
Johannesteijsmannia magnifica

sal, koh, lak

N. Sumatra, Malaya, Borneo. Stemless solitary, huge entire diamond
shaped leaf, glaucous back. Flowers spiral, white. Fruit dull brown,
thick wall, corky, knobbly. Largest undivided leaf blade of any Malayan
plant, used for Orang Asli houses. Inflorescence shown in the image
on lower right.

Licuala grandis


New Hebrides, widely cultivated, ornamental. Solitary fan palm.

Licuala spinosa


SE Asia, coastal, often on landward margin of mangroves. Leaf blades
up to 1m across, radiating segments, narrowly wedge shaped and pleated
with central blades longest and broadest. Long arching inflorescence,
white flowers, red ovoid fruit, spinosa bearing spines (stalk).

Licuala sp.
Licuala endauensis.Livistona endauensis Licuala endauensis.
Livistona saribus

serdang, sar

SE Asia, in Malaya but absent from Negri Sembilan, Melaka and Johor.
To 20m. Leaves usually with some lower divisions down to central rib.
Fruits round 1-2cm, with thin fleshy blue green wall. Cabbage and
fruits edible.

Oncosperma horridum


Malaya, Borneo, Philippines. Leaflets held stiffly, whole blade vertical
or nearly so, lowland forest to 500m. Like nibong but clumps smaller,
often only 4-6 stemmed, young leaves held flat, while O. tigillarium
droops immediately.

Oncosperma tigillarium


Many stemmed clumps to 7m across, leaves arching, all leaflets drooping.
Coastal, and in hutan darat, brackish inland mangrove edge. Wood resistant
to salt water borers, used for coastal construction eg. kelong stakes.
Flat trunk strips for flooring. Fruit substitutes for betel.

Pholidocarpus macrocarpus


Malaya. Lowland seasonal swamp forest, along valleys, scattered, endemic.
Like Livistona exc. stamens form long tube free from petals, fruits
with thick corky cracked outer wall. Flesh orange with strong apricot
smell (edible?). Not all leaf divisions to centre, some only 1/3 way
in to stalk.

Pinanga disticha


Malaya. Common in dryland forest undergrowth. Leaves V-shaped, simple,
dark green, marbled with paler patches. Fruiting head below crown
shaft (fruits in 2 ranks: disticha). Inflorescence simple, slender,
spreading spikes, fruits red, ellipsoid, spike axis sometimes red.

Pinanga malaiana


Malaya, Sumatra, Borneo. Small clumps to 7 m. Leaves spreading, equally
spaced equal broad leaflets, 2 main nerves. Crown shaft prominent,
fawn flushed pinkish. Inflorescences pendulous with 2-5 stout flattened
8″ spikes. Flowers yellow-cream, fruits in 2 ranks, ripening
purple red.

Pinanga riparia


Thailand, Malaya, Singapore, Sumatra. Borneo? Clustering, to 5m. Leaves
60-90 cm, w/3-7 prs. falcate (sickle shaped) leaflets. Fruit white-green,
ripening red-black. Riparian, can stand periodic submergence. From
Datuk Lim Chong Keat 5.05.

Pinanga simplicifrons


Thailand, Malaya, Sumatra, Borneo. Miniature clustering palmlet to
1.5m. Few leaves at crown, blades entire, oblong, bifid at apex. Fruit
proportionately large, green to scarlet. Basal shoots/seedlings?colonies
in lowland wet/dry forest. From Datuk Lim Chong Keat 5.05.

Ptychoraphis singaporensis


Singapore, Johor, Dindings. Endemic. Slender clustering stems and
feathery leaves. No crown shaft. Inflorescence with 2 spathes &
several slender spikes developing in axils of hanging dead leaves.
Flowers sessile, yellow. Fruit fleshy, yellow to red. Seed linear
groove on one side.

Rhapis excelsa

China Cane, partridge cane

Sub-family Coryphoideae. SE China? widely cultivated. Origins unclear,
plants in Malaya infertile and believed to be all male. Propogated
for centuries from sucker shoots & used for umbrella handles and
walking sticks.

Salacca edulis


Lowland, cultivated throughout Malesia, in Malaya rare. Clump forming,
prickly, undergrowth palms, growing as big dense rosettes. Leaflets
flat in 1 plane, evenly spaced but in sub-opposite groups of 1-3 with
irregular gaps between, ashy grey on lower surface. Dioecious. Edible

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