Sugar palm – Arenga pinnata
This tree grows about 15 meters high and has huge leaves up to 6 meters long. Needlelike structures stick out of the bases of the leaves. Flowers grow below the leaves and form large conspicuous dusters from which the fruits grow.
Habitat and Distribution:
This palm is native to the East Indies but has been planted in many parts off the tropics. It can be found at the margins of forests.
The chief use of this palm is for sugar. However, its seeds and the tip of its stems are a survival food. Bruise a young flower stalk with a stone or similar object and collect the juice as it comes out. It is an excellent source of sugar. Boil the seeds. Use the tip of the stems as a vegetable. CAUTION: The flesh covering the seeds may cause dermatitis. Other Uses: The shaggy material at the base of the leaves makes an excellent rope as it is strong and resists decay.