Caryota urens

Caryota urens  L. (PALMAE)
Common names
Kannada: Baini.
Tulu: Yeend.
Malayalam: Iram-ponei, Chunda pana.
Tamil: Konda panei.
Telugu: Konda jivalaggum, Mari.

Description: A unarmed palms, up to 20 m  tall, 30-45 cm in diam. with cylindric, annulate, not or scarcely soboliferous, smooth, grey, shining, covered with long shallow cracks with corky edges. Leaves bipinnate, 5-7 x 3-4 m; pinnae 1-2 m long drooping; leaflets alternate, cuneiform, 10-20 cm long, obliquely truncate, irregularly serrate-toothed on the margin, upper margin produced beyond the leaflets into a tail, quite glabrous, bright green, shining; petioles ca 6-8 cm thick. Spadix 3-4 cm long; branches simple, forming a dense tassel drooping from the stout peduncle. Spathes ca 45 cm long, closely embracing the peduncle of the spadix. Flowers unisexual. Sepals 3. petals 3, reddish. Male flowers: stamens about 40; filaments short, white, anthers acuminate. Female flowers: staminodes 3, ovary 3-loculed, stigma 3-lobed, sessile. Fruit a berry, globose, ca 2 cm across, reddish. Seeds 1 or 2, brown.

Flowering &  Fruiting: All seasons.

Distribution: India: Throughout. Common in the evergreen forests of Western Ghats, up to 1300 m. 

Uses:  The pith furnishes a good palatable sago. Toddy, convertible into arrack, is obtained by tapping the peduncle. Sweet toddy is used for making jaggery. The terminal bud of the palm is edible and is eaten raw with jaggery, or cooked as vegetable, or pickled. Wood brown with close black streaks, very hard, strong and durable, used for hut building, agricultural implements, water conduits, tank pipes and rice pounders. It is resistant to termite attack. The trunk is used for making drums. The roots are carbonized to give a charcoal preferred by silversmiths and goldsmiths. A very strong fibre, the “Kittul fibre”, obtained at the base of leaf sheaths, petioles and flowering stalks is made into ropes, brushes, brooms, fishing lines and nets, bow strings etc. The nuts are used for making buttons, beads etc. Fresh toddy laxative, but acrid, allays thirst and fatigue, applied to the head in hemicrania.