Herbs & Plants

Nypa fruiticans

Botanical Name: Nypa fruiticans
Family: Arecaceae
Subfamily: Nypoideae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Arecales
Genus: Nypa

*Cocos nypa Lour.
*Nipa arborescens Wurmb ex H.Wendl.
*Nipa fruticans (Wurmb) Thunb.
*Nipa litoralis Blanco
*Nypa fruticans var. neameana F.M.Bailey

Common Names: Gol Pata, Nypa Palm

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 estuaries. 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.

Unlike most palms, the nipa palm’s trunk grows beneath the ground; only the leaves and flower stalk grow upwards above the surface. The leaves extend up to 9 m (30 ft) 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 cm (10 in) across on a single stalk. The ripe nuts separate from the ball and float away on the tide, occasionally germinating while still water-borne.


Nypa fruticans is a plant of low elevations in the moist tropics. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 23 – 27°c, but can tolerate 20 – 35°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,000 – 2,800mm, but tolerates 1,500 – 3,500mm.
Grows best in a sunny position. Plants are only found in tidal mudflats of the moist tropics in the wild, though they have also been successfully cultivated in swampy ground some distance from the sea. Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 – 7.5, tolerating 5.5 – 8.5.
Nipa palm is probably the oldest palm species, with evidence to show that it had a pantropical distribution 13 – 63 million years ago. It is considered an advanced palm species, and it has been suggested that it could be related to two genera in the Pandanaceae, Pandanus and Sararanga.
The first flowering occurs 3 – 4 years after germination. The plant can be tapped for its sap by the time of the second flowering.

Propagation: Through seeds.

Edible Uses:
Seeds are eaten raw. 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.

A sugary sap is obtained from the inflorescence. It is used mainly to make an alcoholic beverage, but also to make syrup, sugar and vinegar.The inflorescence is cooked in the syrup obtained from the inflorescence to produce an energy-giving sweetmea

Other Uses:
The long, feathery leaves of the nipa palm are used by local populations as roof material for thatched houses or dwellings. The leaves are also used in many types of basketry and thatching. 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.

Medicinal Uses:
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.

Other Uses:
The plant has been used for erosion control along coastal mudflats.
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).

The strong leaf stalks have many structural uses. They are also made into arrows.
The leaflets and midribs are used for manufacturing of brooms, baskets, mats and sunhats.

The leaves may contain up to 10% tannin.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.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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