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Caryota urens


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. කිතුල් - Kithul in Sinhala, கூந்தற்பனை - Koonthal Panai in Tamil, ಬೈನೆ ಮರ in Kannada, ചൂണ്ടപ്പന - Choondappana in Malayalam চাউর in Bengali,. 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.


Caryota urens trees.
Caryota urens unripe fruit.

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

The Template:Convert long inflorescences emerge at each leaf node, from top to bottom, producing pendent clusters of white, unisexual flowers. The fruit matures to a round, Template:Convert 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.


This species is called kithul (කිතුල්) in Sri Lanka. It is the source of kithul treacle, a liquid jaggery.<ref>Sweet science: Sri Lanka's rural treacle industry</ref> 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. It is sweet in taste.<ref>https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/01/26/510610923/sri-lankas-kithul-palm-syrup-an-ancient-sweetener-in-need-of-saving</ref><ref>https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/kithul-syrup-can-be-sri-lankas-maple-syrup-to-the-world/</ref> This powder is considered cool and nutritious in Coastal districts of Karnataka. In Sri Lanka, the powder is mixed with coconut milk and cooked to make Kithul Thalapa (කිතුල් තලප).

Elephants are fed both the leaf and the pulp of this plant.

Famous Bastar Beer prepared from Caryota urens


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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  • Riffle, Robert L. and Craft, Paul (2003) An Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms. Portland: Timber Press. Template:ISBN / Template:ISBN (Page 292)

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