Caryota urens

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Caryota urens
Caryota urens full.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Arecales
Family: Arecaceae
Genus: Caryota
Species: C. urens
Binomial name
Caryota urens
L.

Caryota urens is a species of flowering plant in the palm family from the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia where they grow in fields and rainforest clearings. The epithet urens is Latin for "stinging" alluding to the chemicals in the fruit. They are commonly called solitary fishtail palm, toddy palm, wine palm, jaggery palm (கூந்தற்பனை in Tamil, කිතුල් in Sinhala, ಬೈನೆ ಮರ in Kannada, ചൂണ്ടപ്പന - Choondappana in Malayalam). Its leaf is used as fishing rod after trimming the branches of the leaf and drying. According to Monier-Williams, it is called moha-karin ("delusion maker") in Sanskrit. It is one of the sugar palms.

Description[edit]

Caryota urens trees.
Caryota urens unripe fruit.

Caryota urens species is a solitary-trunked tree that measure up to 12 m (39 ft) in height and up to 30 cm (12 in) wide. Widely-spaced leaf-scar rings cover its gray trunk which culminate in a 6 m (20 ft) wide, 6 m tall leaf crown. The bipinnate leaves are triangular in shape, bright to deep green, 3.5 m (11 ft) long, and held on 60 cm (24 in) long petioles. The obdeltoid pinnae are 30 cm long with a pointed edge and a jagged edge.

The 3 m (9.8 ft) long inflorescences emerge at each leaf node, from top to bottom, producing pendent clusters of white, unisexual flowers. The fruit matures to a round, 1 cm (0.39 in) drupe, red in color with one seed. Like all Caryotas, the fruit contains oxalic acid, a skin and membrane irritant. As these plants are monocarpic, the completion of the flower and fruiting process results in the death of the tree. Elephants love this plant - both leaf & the pulp. Toddy is extracted from the inflorescence, and is considered some what powerful compared to toddy extracted from few other palm trees. Pulp of the fully grown up plant is cut, sun dried, powdered and is edible. This powder is considered cool and nutritius in Coastal districts of Karnataka.

Uses[edit]

This species is called kithul in Sri Lanka. It is the source of kithul treacle, a liquid jaggery.[1]

Famous Bastar Beer prepared from Caryota urens
Cultivation

Caryota urens is cultivated as an ornamental tree, and planted in gardens and parks in tropical and sub-tropical climates. It is also used as an interior and houseplant when smaller.

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