Palmyra Palm

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Palmyra palm Borassus flabellifer, a common palm of S. Asia, cultivated in India and Sri Lanka, mainly as a source of palm sugar, but also for the extraction of sago and for its fruits and nuts. The palm, like the coconut and the nipa palm, also serves numerous other purposes. Indeed, if Watt (1889–96) is correct in referring to a Tamil poem which records ‘some 800 uses to which the various parts are put’, it may outdo its rivals in versatility. The leaves are used for writing material, thatching, etc., and are also a source of salt; the inflorescence provides juice, drunk fresh or boiled down to yield jaggery (sugar), or fermented to wine and vinegar. See also Blatter (1926).