Know about the Sugar Palm

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Sugar Palm Quick Facts
Name: Sugar Palm
Scientific Name: Arenga pinnata
Origin Tropical south Asia to South-east Asia
Colors Green to yellow to black
Shapes Rounded or ellipsoid drupe, about 5–7 cm in diameter
Sugar palm is a tall, unbranched and solitary palm which grows to the height of 12 to 20 meters having a stout trunk of 30 to 60 cm diameter. Trunk has distinct bases of broken leaves and long black fibres top by dense crown of leaves. Leaves are pinnate, ascending, 6-10 meters long and the basal part of the petiole is covered with sheath of stout and black fibers. Leaflets are 160 on each side, linear and about 1.5 to 1.8 meters long. Tip is lobed and variously toothed and base is 2-auricled and the lower surface is white or pale. An inflorescence is unisexual, axillary and pendulous having stout  and peduncle bearing female flowering spikes at the top and male flowering spikes lower down the peduncle and appearing later. Flowers are trimerous having 3-lobed tubular corolla. Fruits are rounded or ellipsoid drupe measuring 5 to 7 cm in diameter and is green when immature that turns yellow and then gradually black containing two to three black seeds.


Leaves are ascending, pinnate and about 8.5 meters long. Leaflets are dark green above and whitish beneath which offers dirty greenish appearance to trees. Leaf sheaths cover stem and the margins are fibrous with black hairs. Young leaf sheaths are covered on lower surfaces having abundance of soft and moss like white hairs.


The matured fruits are yellow; about 5 cm in diameter containing 2-3 seeds each.

Health Benefits of Sugar palm

  1. Healthy diet

As our diet determines our health as well. This fruit has 93% of water content and also gelatin which provides the sense of fullness after its consumption. It helps to control our appetite.

  1. Treatment for arthritis

Arthritis can disturb our activities. An intake of this fruit 100 grams per day could gradually heal arthritis.

  1. Digestive health

Palmfruit has high content of fiber which makes it effective for treating constipation. Consume 5 to 10 grains of palmfruit per day. This helps to avoid constipation and also other digestive disorders.

  1. Relieve Itchiness

The sap obtained from the tree is helpful in providing relief from itch. Use the sap to provide relief from itchiness.

  1. Prevention of Osteoporosis

As the person ages, osteoporosis occurs. This condition affects not only old people but also young these days which occurs due to the amount of activity and lack of intake of milk and foods containing calcium. Palmfruit has 91 milligrams of calcium so the intake of this fruit fulfills calcium requirement and prevents the chances of osteoporosis.

Traditional uses

  • The young roots of Arenga pinnata have been reported to be used in a medicine for treating kidney stones and old roots for toothache in Malaysia.
  • In Southeast Asia, consumption of arenga sugar is used as a traditional and homeopathic remedy, believed to revitalize the body.
  • In the Philippines, the stems and petioles are reported to be diuretic and antithermic.
  • The petiole fibers are styptic, used as a hemostatic and cicatrizing for applying to wounds.
  • Stems act as diuretic.
  • Root decoction is beneficial to lungs and supports digestion and promotes appetite.
  • Root decoction is helpful for bladder problems.
  • It is helpful for colds and sinus problems, cold sores and sore throat.
  • Roots are considered to be stomachic and pectoral in Cambodia.
  • Petioles are used in chronic paludism having spleen enlargement.
  • Roots are used to make tea decoction to relieve bladder problems.

Culinary uses

  • The sugary sap from the cut inflorescence makes a fresh drink called saguir, nira or lahang.
  • The juice can be boiled down to make arenga syrup or allow setting in molds to form arenga sugar, called gur in India.
  • Arenga syrup or sugar is used in all kind of dishes, sweets, beverages and preserves.
  • It acts as the perfect sweetener and flavor stimulant for cakes, pastries, pancakes, toast, sandwiches, cereals, beverages, fruit juices, dessert toppings and many other uses.
  • The young crown top or terminal bud called ‘palm cabbage’ is also eaten as a salad or cooked.
  • The endospermum of immature seeds are also eaten as vegetable or dessert.
  • Immature seeds are much eaten by the Filipinos, being usually boiled with sugar to form a kind of sweetmeat.
  • The endosperms of immature seeds are widely consumed in the Philippines and are made into canned fruits after boiling them in sugar syrup.
  • In Indonesian, the white endosperms of immature seeds are extracted and undergo 10–20 days of water immersion and then boiled with sugar to yield buah atap or kolang-kaling which is used as a sweetmeat popularly used in es campur (shave ice delicacy) or in kolak, local refreshment.
  • Sago a starch is also made from the tender pith of trunk of old palms.
  • In Indonesia, arenga sago is used as an ingredient of bakso (noodles), cakes and other dishes.
  • In Java, syrup called chendol is made from it.
  • In India, the Manipuris has been reported to eat the very young, tender white leaves as a pickle.

Other Facts

  • This crop has potential to be developed into a major resource of bio fuel (bioethanol).
  • Boiled starch extracted as sago from the palm is used as hogs feed.
  • The flowers are a good source of nectar for honey production.
  • A toy beetle has been made from the seed.
  • The leaves are used for thatching houses.
  • Leaves are used for rough brooms and woven into coarse baskets.
  • The youngest leaves are sometimes used as cigarette paper.
  • Old woody leaf bases as well as the long leaves can be used for fuel.
  • The petioles when split are used for basketry and a form of marquetry work on tables, stands, screen, boxes and other light pieces for furniture.
  • Leaf petioles and the wood of the stem are also made into walking sticks and the Pagan tribes in Peninsular Malaysia used the wood for the butts of blow-pipes.
  • The very hard outer part of the trunk is used for barrels, flooring and furniture, posts for pepper vines, boards, tool handles and musical instruments like drums are all made from the wood of the trunk.
  • The pith of the leaf rachis is an ideal shape for use as a drinking cup.
  • Fibers especially from that surrounding the trunk are used for ship cordage as they are durable in water.
  • The black horsehair-like fibers of the leaf bases serve the production of rigging and brushes as well as for covers of underwater telegraph cables and for caulking of boats as the fibers can stand long exposure to either fresh or salt water and is also fire resistant.
  • The same fibers are used for stuffing mattresses, for thatching materials, as sieves, brooms and brushes and other minor products.
  • The hairs found on the base of the leaf sheaths are very good tinder for igniting fire.
  • Fibers are also obtained from the trunk pith, leave sheaths and roots.
  • Fibers are also used for making hats in Indo China.
  • Roots are used for matting and the root fibers have been used for making capes in Sulawesi.






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