Botanical Name: Phoenix paludosa
Species: P. paludosa
*Phoenix andamanensis W.T.Mill., J.G.Sm. & N.Taylor bis
*Phoenix siamensis Miq.
Common Names: Hental, Mangrove Date Palm
Phoenix paludosa occurs in E. Asia – India, Bangladesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia.
It grows in the back areas of mangrove and saltwater swamps in areas that are sometimes inundated with brackish water; usually scattered but occasionally forming stands.
Phoenix paludosa is an evergreen, clustering palm forming a dense clump of slender, unbranched stems up to 5 metres tall and 5 – 8cm in diameter (excluding leaf sheaths). The leaves are 200 – 300cm long with a stem 70 – 98cm long.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a source of food and materials.
Phoenix paludosa is threatened by the loss of mangrove habitat throughout its range, primarily due to extraction and coastal development, and there has been an estimated 24% decline in mangrove area within this species’ range since 1980. The plant is classified as ‘Near Threatened’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2008)
The plant can be grown from the warm temperate to tropical zones. It can withstand some frost.
Grows best in a sunny position. Grows best in a moist soil. Phoenix species are quite liable to hybridize where the various species meet as a result of cultivation. A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required.
Seed – pre-soak for 24 hours prior to sowing. The seed germinates best at a temperature of 21 – 27°c.
Division of offsets.
The fruits are eaten in curries. The boiled fruits are eatenThe blue-black, ovoid-ellipsoid fruit is 10 – 12,, long and 7 – 10mm wide, containing a single, large woody seed.
The fruits have been used as a coffee substitute.
The pith of the stem is edible.
The terminal bud is eaten. The palm heart (the inner core and growing bud of the plant) is harvested. It provides a crispy food, rich in nutrients, that can be eaten raw or cooked. Harvesting the heart will lead to the death of the stem it was harvested from, though in multi-stemmed plants such as this the rest of the plant will continue to grow and often produce new stems.
The fruit serves as a tonic and restorative, and is also used as an analgesic to mitigate pain from backache and in the buttocks. In addition, it is widely used as an aphrodisiac, sweetener and diuretic and in the treatment of vomiting, vertigo and unconsciousness.
The fibrous leaves are used to make mats, ropes, umbrellas, and fences as well as for thatching roofs. The stems are used to make walking sticks (believed traditionally to repel snakes), as rafters and for flooring.
The stems are used as posts.
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