Caryota L.

From the Greek caryon - nut.

Spineless solitary or clustering palms. Trunks slender to stout, dying after fruiting. Crownshaft absent. Leaves bipinnate. Leaflets wedge-shaped, often paired and fishtail-like, without a midrib, the margins jagged, especially on the slanting margin at the tip. Flowers unisexual with both sexes on the same plant. Panicles produced among the leaves, maturing from the top of the trunk downwards. Fruit globose, dark coloured, 1-2 seeded.

A very popular genus in cultivation. The fruiting trunk in all species dies after the lowermost inflorescence has mature fruit. One native species found on Cape York Peninsula, C. albertii F. Muell., is too cold-sensitive to be grown in southern Australia. The fruit of all species contain irritant caustic calcium oxalate crystals in the flesh.

Seeds germinate over 3-12 months.

Many species are cultivated in the tropics for their ornamental features and economic qualities which include edible palm heart, sago and timber from the stems, fibres and sap from cut inflorescences being converted into palm wine or sugar.

Easily recognised by the bipinnate leaves with wedge-shaped or fan-shaped leaflets; trunks dying down after flowering

13 species distributed in India, Sri Lanka, southern China, South-east Asia, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, New Guinea and Australia.

Uhl & Dransfield (1987).

Source: Jones, D; Spencer, R. (2005). Arecaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 5. Flowering plants. Monocotyledons. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Lilianae
order      Arecales
family       Arecaceae
Higher taxa
Subordinate taxa
species         Caryota mitis Lour.
species         Caryota urens L.