Botanical Name: Corypha utan
Species: C. utan
*Borassus sylvestris Giseke nom. illeg.
*Corypha elata Roxb.
*Corypha gebang Mart.
*Corypha gembanga (Blume) Blume
*Corypha griffithiana Becc.
*Corypha macrophylla Roster
*Corypha macropoda Kurz
*Corypha sylvestris Mart. nom. illeg.
*Gembanga rotundifolia Blume
*Livistona vidalii Becc.
*Taliera elata (Roxb.) Wall.
*Taliera gembanga Blume nom. illeg.
*Taliera sylvestris Blume nom. illeg.
Common Names: Gebang Palm. Corypha palm, Sugar palm, Cabbage palm, Buri palm
Habitat: Corypha utan is native to E. Asia – India, Malaysia and Indo-China to Australia. It grows on flat, low-lying land in woodlands and forests in monsoonal areas. Open grasslands, and along rivers and wetlands.
Corypha utan is a massive, solitary-stemmed, evergreen fan palm growing to about 20 metres tall with leaves from 4 – 6 metres across. The bole can be 1 metre in diameter.. Like other palms of genus Corypha, this species flowers at the end of its lifetime, producing a massive inflorescence up to 5 meters tall containing up to one million flowers.
One of the largest of all the palms, it provides a wide range of food and materials for the local people..Growing along watercourses, floodplains and grasslands, the Palm and Cycad Societies of Australia write about the Corypha utan palms occurring in Cape York:
Plants succeed in moist tropical climates where temperatures never fall below 10 deg.c, the average annual rainfall is 1,500mm or more and the driest month has 25mm or more rain. They can also succeed in drier areas with an annual rainfall as low as 250mm and one month or more where rainfall is below 25mm. Plants grow well in full sun, even when small. Plants are monocarpic – living for many years without flowering, but then dying after they flower. Like all members of this genus, these palms only flower at the end of their life, sending up a massive inflorescence, up to 5 metres high, and with up to 1 million flowers. Plants are slow growing when young.
A sweet sap is obtained from the inflorescence. This can be used as a sugar or fermented into an alcoholic drink. Apical bud – raw, cooked with rice or pickled. Eaten raw as a salad, or cooked as a vegetable. Eating this bud effectively kills the plant because it is unable to make side branches. A starch obtained from the pith of the stem is used to make sago. The kernels of young seeds are eaten or made into sweetmeats.
The roots are demulcent, diuretic, emollient and stimulant. The roots are chewed in the treatment of coughs. The juice of the roots is used for treating diarrhea. A decoction of the young plant is used in the treatment of febrile catarrh . The starch from the trunk is used in the treatment of bowel complaints.
The leaves have a wide range of uses, including thatching for roofs and walls, weaving into baskets, mats, hats etc. The ribs of the leaves is used for making brooms. A fibre, known as ‘buntal’, is obtained from the leaf petioles. It is used for making Lucban and Baliuag hats, and for making rope. A very fine fibre is obtained from the unfolded leaves. Used for cloth, fancy articles and as a string. Fibres from the ribs of unfolded leaves are used for making Calasiao hats. The mature seeds are made into buttons or used as beads on rosaries.
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