Nipa palm (Nypa fruticans).
Nipa palm - Nypa
Nypa fruticans, commonly known as the nipa palm (or simply nipa) or mangrove palm, is a species of palm native to the coastlines and estuarine habitats of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the only palm considered adapted to the mangrove biome. The genus Nypa and the subfamily Nypoideae are monotypic taxa because this species is their only member.
A highly valued food and source of materials for local peoples, providing edible seeds and sap plus an excellent material for thatching. It is often cultivated in smal plantations in order to supply food and materials, and is also widely planted along swampy coastlines, often with mangroves, in order to protect the shore from erosion.
Nypa fruticans is a large, evergreen palm.
Unlike most palms, the nipa palm's trunk grows beneath the
ground. Forming a loose clump of growth from a prostrate or subterranean stem up to 45cm in diameter. This stem branches at intervals to form individual clumps of large, erect leaves that can each be up to
9 metres long. Only the leaves and flower stalk grow upwards above the surface. The leaves extend up to 9 metres (30 feet) in height.
The flowers are a globular inflorescence of female flowers at the tip with catkin-like red or yellow male flowers on the lower branches. The flower produces woody nuts arranged in a globular cluster up to 25 centimetres (10 inches) across on a single stalk. The ripe nuts separate from the ball and float away on the tide, occasionally germinating while still water-borne.
Nipa palms grow in soft mud and slow-moving tidal and river waters that bring in nutrients. They can be found as far inland as the tide can deposit the floating nuts. They are common on coasts and rivers flowing into the Indian and Pacific Oceans, from India to the Pacific Islands.
The palm will survive occasional short-term drying of its environment. Despite the name "mangrove palm" and its prevalence in coastal areas, it is only moderately salt tolerant and suffers if exposed to pure seawater; it prefers the brackish waters of
It is considered native to China (Hainan), the Ryukyu Islands, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Borneo, Java, Maluku, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Sulawesi, Sumatra, the Bismarck Archipelago, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the Caroline Islands, and Australia (Queensland and the Northern Territory). It is reportedly naturalized in Nigeria, the Society Islands of French Polynesia, the Mariana Islands, Panama, and Trinidad.
Japan's Iriomote Island and its neighboring Uchibanari Island are the most northern limit of the distribution.
The young flower stalk and hard seeds are edible and provide hydration.
harvested when the fruits are immature, the seed has a delicious creamy flavour. The white endosperm of immature seeds is sweet and jelly-like, and is consumed as a snack. The mature seeds are sometimes eaten, but are very hard.
In the Philippines and Malaysia, the inflorescence can be "tapped" to yield a sweet, edible sap collected to produce a local alcoholic beverage called tuba, bahal, or tuak. A fruit cluster is ready to be tapped when the unripe fruits are at their peak sweetness. The cluster is cut from the stalk about six inches down, and mud is rubbed on the stalk to induce sap flow.
Sap begins flowing immediately if the fruit maturity was correctly gauged. A bamboo tube or a bottle is fitted over the cut stalk and the sap is collected twice daily, cutting a half centimeter slice off the end of the stalk after each collection to prevent it from gumming over. Sap flow will continue for 30 days per stalk, and the nipa flowers continuously throughout the year, providing a continuous supply of sap.
Tuba can be stored in tapayan (earthenware balloon vases) for several weeks to make a kind of vinegar known as sukang paombong in the Philippines and cuka nipah in Malaysia. Tuba can also be distilled to make arrack, locally known as lambanog in Filipino and arak or arak nipah in Indonesian. Young shoots are also edible; the flower petals can be infused to make an aromatic tisane. Attap chee (Chinese: 亞答子; pinyin: yà dá zǐ) (chee meaning "seed" in several Chinese dialects) is a name for the immature fruits—sweet, translucent, gelatinous balls used as a dessert ingredient in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore, that are a byproduct of the sap harvesting process.
In Indonesia, especially in Java and Bali, the sap can be used to make a variant of Jaggery called gula nipah. In Sarawak, it is called gula apong.
In Thailand, leaf is used for dessert. In Cambodia, its leaves are used for wrapping cakes (such as num katâm), and the flowers are sometimes used to make sugar, vinegar, and alcohol.
Various parts of nipa palm are a source of traditional medicines (e.g. juice from young shoots is used against herpes, ash of burned nipa material against toothache and headache).
The plant (part not specified) is used as a remedy for the bites of centipedes and as a cure for ulcers.
The leaves are an excellent material for thatching and basket making. They can also be woven into walls. When used for thatching, the leaflets are stripped from the rachis and formed into a thick fringe (tagon) on a reed. After having been thoroughly dried the thatch is secured to the framework of the roof by lashings of pandanus leaves split up the middle and deprived of their stiff keel. Two men work at a time on each reed, beginning at the eaves and working toward the ridge, which is covered with a sort of braided matting secured in place by pins passing under the ridge-pole and projecting on each side. The leaves are considered to be far superior to and more durable than coconut thatch (Cocos nucifera).
Because they are buoyant, large stems are used to train swimmers in Burma.
On the islands of Roti and Savu, nipa palm sap is fed to pigs during the dry season. This is said to impart a sweet flavour to the meat. The young leaves are used to wrap tobacco for smoking.
In Cambodia, this palm is called cha:k; its leaves are used to cover roofs. Roof thatching with the leaves occurs in many places in Papua New Guinea. In some coastal areas, the rachis is used for walls in houses, and the leaflets are used for ornaments. The epidermises of the leaves are used as cigarette papers.