|Palmyra Fruit Quick Facts|
|Scientific Name:||Borassus flabellifer|
|Origin||Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, including Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines|
|Colors||Black to brown|
|Shapes||Broadly ovoid, 10–18 cm (3.9 in - 7.1 in) in diameter with a fibrous and fleshy, mesocarp and with a tightly adhering persistent large calyx at the base|
|Health benefits||Helps relieve digestive problems, Helps relieve skin related problems, Cools the Body, Helps Reduce Weight, Home Remedy for Many Ailments, Heals Migraines, Prevention of Diabetes, Rich in Phytonutrients|
The sweet sap of the Palmyra tree is called Toddy and is used in preparation of Palm jaggery. Sap is fermented to make Arrack which is an alcoholic beverage. Almost every part of the tree is useful to mankind. The fan shaped tall tree bears fruits like that of a coconut tree. The pulp is tender and the husk is fibrous similar to that in Coconut. The fruit has a black husk and is 4 to 7 inches in diameter. It is borne in clusters. The top portion of the fruit is cut off to reveal the three sweet jelly seed sockets.
Palmyra Fruit is a tall, single-stemmed evergreen palm tree that can grow about 20–30 m tall and the trunk may have a circumference of 1.7 m at the base. The trunk is tall going up to a height of 30 meter. It is strong, cylindrical and black in color, with a circumference of approximately 1.5 to 2.5 meter at the base and approximately 1 meter at middle and tail parts. The hard outer wood of the trunk is used as pillars, furniture and supporting tool for kutcha houses. The trunk is also used as pipes to supply water in agricultural land and streams. The wood is used to make walking sticks and windows grills. Dried and holed trunk is used for make boats in coastal region. In a nutshell, the trunk is used appropriately depending on the size, texture and condition of the trunk and in no condition does it go completely waste. The tree wood will be stronger an old age trees. The old age trees are good income for the local people; the single tree cost around 700 rupees.
Palmyara tree have 20-25 large fresh looking leaves, gray green in color that are fan shaped with a length of 1-2 meter and folded along the midrib. Leaf is divided into 30-40 linear lanceolate and ends with marginal spiny segments. Leaves have strong, woody stalk up to 2 meter long, margins with hard spines, smooth on upper surface and rough in lower area.
Leaves obtained from trees have myriad uses; including social uses like used for thatching for kutcha houses, fencing, and also to create livelihood options for local people by making mats, baskets, hand held fans, hats, rain coats. Additionally the local people also use the leaves to make playing kits for children play. Palmyra leaves have great ecological, economical, spiritual and cultural importance since olden days. The most significant of which is that these leaves were used for writing manuscripts. Many manuscripts in Hindu culture were written using this leaves. Used leaves of thatching and fencing are used as organic manure in their farm lands. Leaf stalks are used as fuel wood and in many villages this is one of the major fuel wood sources. The fleshy shoot apex of the tree is edible and is consumed frequently by local people growing the tree.
Like all Borassus species, B. flabellifer is dioecious with male and female flowers on separate plants. Male inflorescence is 90–150 cm long, much branched with primary and secondary branches. Male flowers are sub sessile, with narrowly cuneate sepals with truncate inflexed tips and obovate-spatulate and shorter petals, large anthers. Female inflorescence has a flowering portion to 30 cm long, with 8–16 flowers spirally arranged. Female flowers have fleshy, large, reniform sepals, smaller petals, sub trigonous ovary, recurved stigmas and sessile. Flowering normally takes place from February to April.
Palmyra fruits are edible in all the stages. The male and female flowers are always produced in two different plants. The flowers are small, and pale yellow growing in clusters with a white string like inflorescences. Fruits are sub globose, and again in clusters. Usually a single tree will produce anywhere between 50 to 300 fruits. The size of the fruits range from 4-8 inches diameter, and are black, greenish white and black when ripe. The upper part of the fruit must be cut off to reveal the sweet jelly seed sockets to eat. There is one to a maximum of five jelly sockets in a single fruit although it is most commonly found to have three sockets. The kernel which is soft as jelly and translucent like ice is accompanied with sweetish water. This liquid has medicinal properties and is used by the local people to treat skin diseases. The ripened fruit of outer layer also can be eaten raw or boiled. The fresh fruits are used as wheels for playing by children.
Each fruit consists of 1-3 seeds, each enclosed within a woody endocarp. These seed sockets have been the inspiration behind certain sweets called Jalbhara found in Bengal. Young palmyra seedlings grow slowly, producing only a few leaves each year (establishment phase), but at undetermined time, they grow rapidly, producing a substantial stem.
There is varied view on its origin. Most botanists believed that it originated from Africa and then was introduced into India a long time ago. Another view is that it is native to South Asia, Southeast Asia to New Guinea Tropical Africa. Palmyra palm is widely cultivated in south Asia and Southeast Asia. It is cultivated or found in semi-wild stands in India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, China, West Malaysia, Indonesia, and New Guinea. In India, it is planted as a windbreak on the plains. It can also be found growing in Hawaii and southern Florida.
Health Benefits of Palmyra Fruit
Being rich in minerals and vitamins, sugar palm fruits are a healthy option for people on diet or suffering from diabetes. It is a rich source of vitamins B and C, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, thiamine, and riboflavin. Listed below are few of the popular health benefits of Palmyra Fruit
1. Helps relieve digestive problems
Palm fruit is a natural remedy for several stomach ailments and digestive problems. It helps in relieving constipation and in promoting normal bowel movements. It also helps in preventing acidity and stomach ulcers. Pregnant women are encouraged to eat ice apple, for it helps ease some of the minor stomach ailments and nausea that often occur during pregnancy.
2. Helps relieve skin related problems
Palm fruit is an excellent cure for some of the common skin problems that arise during the hot summer season, such as heat rashes and prickly heat. Applying the flesh of the fruit on the affected area provides soothing effects and relief from these conditions. It also helps relieve the itchiness associated with these heat related problems. The anti-inflammatory properties of the fruit are helpful in treating redness of the skin due to intense heat. Poultice made from palm fruit is found to be effective in treating dermatitis. It can be used safely in babies as well.
3. Cools the Body
Palm fruit is a natural coolant and helps to keep the body cool during summer. It also helps in preventing a number of heat related problems like prickly heat, dehydration, dry skin, kidney failure and hair loss. Not only does it hydrate your body, but it also helps replace the nutrients and electrolytes that are lost due to excessive sweating. Ice apple satisfies your thirst and provides you with the energy to stay active throughout the day.
4. Helps Reduce Weight
Ice apple is a low calorie fruit and is thus beneficial for people trying to lose weight. The fruit is rich in water content, which helps keeps your stomach fuller for a long period of time. This in turn helps in preventing frequent snacking, which is important in maintaining a healthy weight.
5. Heals Migraines
Migraine is the most painful of all headaches. Natural medicinal content of palm jaggery helps to reduce this pain. Just take 1 tsp. of palm jaggery, and you will experience relief from migraine.
6. Prevention of Diabetes
Due to the low Glycemic Index of palm sugar, it is a healthy substitute for artificial sugar thus helps to prevent the onset of diabetes. Palm sugar consumption has been reported not to cause a sudden spike in the blood sugar levels. However, diabetes patients should consider consuming palm sugar at a very low level.
7. Home Remedy for Many Ailments
Palm fruit has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. The fruit pulp helps to cure skin inflammations. It is used to treat nausea and vomiting as well as worm infestation. It is used as an expectorant and also as a liver tonic.
8. Rich in Phyto nutrients
Palm fruit is rich in several phyto chemicals that possess strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds can help in slowing down the process of aging and in lowering the risk of many serious health problems such as heart disease and cancer.
Health and Beauty Tips
Face Pack for Heat Rashes
Pure sandalwood powder is mixed with ground fresh sugar palm fruit with a little coconut water. This pack is applied in a thin coat on the face and left to dry after which it is washed off with cold water. This is a good remedy for treating and preventing boils, prickly heat and redness of the face. It is also effective for the inflammatory skin problems faced after sun exposure.
Poultice for Prickly Heat
Sterilized and 100% cotton cloth is taken and sterilized by boiling in water. The cloth is soaked and cooled at room temperature. The fruit is taken and the outer skin on the top is peeled off, the pulp is ground in a mixer and spread on the cloth. This poultice is applied on the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes after which the cloth is removed.
Traditional uses and benefits of Palmyra Fruit
- There are innumerable medicinal uses for all parts of the Palmyra palm in traditional local medicine.
- Young plant is said to relieve biliousness, dysentery, and gonorrhea.
- Young roots are reported to be diuretic and anthelmintic, and a decoction is given in certain respiratory diseases.
- Ash of the spadix is taken to relieve heartburn and enlarged spleen and liver.
- Bark decoction, with salt, is used as a mouth wash, and 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 amoebicide.
- Sugar made from this sap is said to counteract poisoning, and it is prescribed in liver disorders.
- 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 cabbage, leaf petioles, and dried male flower spikes all have diuretic activity.
- Pulp of the mature fruit relieves dermatitis.
- Decoction is given in certain respiratory diseases.
- Dried roots can also be smoked to heal nasal complaints.
- Ash of the flower is taken to relieve heartburn and enlarged spleen and liver.
- Bark decoction, with salt, is used as a mouth wash.
- Charcoal made of the bark serves as a dentifrice.
- Sugar made from this sap is said to counteract poisoning and it is prescribed in the treatment of liver disorders.
- It is also useful as an anti-inflammatory and for dropsy and gastric conditions.
- It also has potential immune-suppressive action.
- Root is pounded and a paste is prepared adding rice water. This paste is consumed in a dose of 5-6 g to treat diarrhea.
- The paste can also be rubbed over the navel region to treat diarrhea.
- Gargling with the decoction of the tree bark along with pinch of salt is used to treat gingivitis and oral ulcers.
- Jaggery prepared from the juice is used as a good tonic to strengthen the uterine muscles in post-partum women.
- Juice of the leaf stalks and young root is good for gastric catarrh and hiccough.
- Milky fluid from the immature seeds is sweet and cooling and prevents hiccups and sickness.
- Small fruits are pickled in vinegar.
- Fibrous outer layer of the ripe palm fruits are also boiled or roasted and eaten.
- Gelatinous translucent pale-white, endosperm of young fruit is juicy, nutritious and edible and is a refreshing delicacy in India and Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.
- Shell of the seed can be punctured with a finger and the sweetish liquid sucked out for refreshment like coconut water.
- Tender nutritious endosperm is also canned in Thailand and exported globally.
- It can also be roasted, sundried, conserved and boiled.
- Jams and cordials are also being tried in Sri Lanka.
- Palmyra fruit pulp (PFP) is widely used to manufacture many food products including dried PFP (punatoo), which has been consumed in North-East Sri Lanka for centuries.
- Sprouts consisting of the first tender leaves and fleshy hypocotyl from fresh germinated nuts provide a rich source of vegetable starch and are boiled for immediate consumption or dried or conserved or roasted and pounded to make a meal.
- The sprouts are known as Panai Kizhangu or Panamkizhangu in Tamil.
- Germinated seed’s hard shell is also cut open to take out the crunchy kernel which tastes like a sweeter water chestnut.
- Tender apical bud is tasty and high prized and delicious.
- Fusiform roots are also eaten especially in times of famine.
- Young fleshy roots are baked and eaten.in Andhra Pradesh.
- Palmyra fruit pulp which is regarded as a waste product, appeared to be best used as an alcoholic fermentation base, with the possibility of using the carotenoids (by-product) as a food colorant.
- Sprouted seedlings of Palmyra palm can also be eaten raw, cooked, or sun-dried for later consumption.
- Salt can be made from the leaves.
- Fruit can be consumed raw or cooked.
- The immature fruits are pickled.
- Tender flesh of young fruits is cooked in curry.
- Ripe fruit has a yellow edible pulp with a distinctive aroma.
- Mature fruit is soaked in water, after which the wiry fibers are extracted, the yellow pulp mixed with rice starch, this is then folded inside a banana leaf and later steam-cooked.
- Sugar-rich sap is obtained from the inflorescence.
- Juice can be drunk, or concentrated by evaporation to form sweet syrup or a solid palm sugar known as jaggery.
- Soft upper 10 meters of the trunk consists of some starch, which may be harvested in times of food scarcity.
- The young solid or gelatinous endosperm of the seeds is eaten fresh or in syrup.
- Sprouted seedlings can be peeled and eaten raw or cooked.
- Inflorescence can be cooked and added to soups and curries.
Tips for Buying Palm Fruit
When fully ripened, the outer shell of Palmyra Fruit becomes a deep blackish purple color. Make sure to buy tender Palmyra Fruit because overripe ones can be hard to digest and may cause stomach problems. Vendor can help you choose the best and most tender fruit. You can either buy it as a whole fruit or the pods peeled and ready to be eaten.
How to Store palm fruit
Once cut and drained, palmyra fruit become sensitive to oxidation, and the flavor and taste of the fruit begins to change rapidly. The quick fermentation of the fruit makes it a cheap and easy source of alcohol. If you don’t plan to consume the fruit immediately after purchasing, make sure to buy the scooped pods with the fibrous skin still covering the pod. Keep it in the refrigerator and this can extend the life of the palm fruit by about a day or so. However, the fruit should be eaten within a day.
- Tree yields a black timber with desirable unique properties – hard, heavy, and durable and is highly valued for house construction, particle board, and furniture or made into handles, sticks.
- Timber and leaves are also used as fuel wood.
- Chopped leaves are used as green manure in rice fields.
- Leaves are seasoned, dried and used for thatching, mats, baskets, fans, hats, umbrellas, and as writing material.
- Leaves are formerly used in the ancient culture as papers, known as lontar in Indonesia.
- Leaf petioles are used to make fences and also produce a strong, wiry fiber suitable for cordage, baskets and brushes.
- Palm yields five types of fiber a loose fiber from the leaf base, a long fiber from the leaf stalk, a fiber from the interior of the trunk, fiber coir derived from the fruit pericarp and the fibrous material from leaf.
- Fibers, extracted from the leaf bases, are used in the manufacture of many types of brushes.
- Fibers from the midrib of the leaf are used to make brooms.
- Fibers for weaving are obtained from the adaxial part of the petiole and from leaves not yet unfolded.
- Fibers extracted from the frond bases exhibit valuable qualities of resistance to chemicals, termite and water and are exported from the provinces of Andra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala.
- Tender fruits that fall prematurely are fed to cattle.
- Roots, the sap of the plant, and the pulp serve medicinal purposes.
- In India also planted in windbreaks.
- It is also used as a natural shelter by birds, bats and wild animals.
- Recent studies reported that palmyra palm fruit shell extract inhibited the corrosion of mild steel and could have industrial application.
- Leaves have a wide range of uses, such as thatching for house roots and walls, weaving into baskets, mats and many other items.
- Top young leaves are made into hats, boxes to store rice, baskets, fans, etc.
- Bark fiber can be used to make strong ropes.
- Petioles are often used as poles for fencing.
- Dried leaflets were at one time used as a paper to record Indian holy texts.
- Whole trunk can be made into a small boat capable of carrying at least three people.
- The Palmyra tree is the official tree of Tamil Nadu.
- In Indonesia the Palmyra tree is the symbol of South Sulawesi province.
- Stalks are used to make fences and also produce a strong, wiry fiber suitable for cordage and brushes.
- In Cambodia, the trunks are also used to make canoes.
- Skin of the stem can be peeled off and be used as rope and also used to weave into cots.
- Leaves are used to make hand fans in the eastern part of India.