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Caryota urens (solitary fishtail palm)

Across India and other Asian countries, the sap of solitary fishtail palm is fermented to produce an alcoholic drink called palm wine or toddy.
Caryota urens (solitary fishtail palm) illustration

Illustration of Caryota urens (solitary fishtail palm) by Alfred Hay

Species information

Scientific name: 

Caryota urens L.

Common name: 

solitary fishtail palm, toddy palm, wine palm, jaggery palm

Conservation status: 

Least Concern (LC) according to IUCN Red List criteria.


Rainforest clearings.

Key Uses: 

Food, beverage, fibre, timber, ornamental.

Known hazards: 

Fruits of all Caryota species contain oxalic acid crystals, which are skin and membrane irritants.


Genus: Caryota

About this species

Caryota species are the only palms with bipinnate leaves (meaning they are divided into leaflets that divide a second time). The ultimate leaflets have a characteristic shape, somewhat like the tail of a fish, leading to the popular English name of fishtail palm. The specific epithet urens is Latin for 'stinging’ or ‘burning', alluding to the oxalic acid crystals in the fruits, which are skin and membrane irritants.

Solitary fishtail palm is used in several ways: the sap is fermented into an alcoholic drink or boiled down to make syrup or sugar, the inner tissue is used as sago (food starch), and the leaves produce strong fibres that are made into ropes, brushes and baskets.


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