Family • Arecaceae - Borassus flabellifer L. - PALMIRA PALM - Shan ye zi

Scientific names

Borassus flabellifer L.
Borassus sundaicus Becc.
Borassus flabelliformis Murr.
Borassus tunicatus Lour.
Pholidocarpus tunicatus (Lour.) H. Wendl.
Tang zong(Chin.)

Common names

Palmira (Tag.)
Palmyra palm (Engl.)
Fan palm (Engl.)
Toddy palm (Engl.)
Wine palm (Engl.)
Tala palm (Engl.)
Doub palm (Engl.)
Shan ye zi (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

ARABIC: Dom, Tal, Shag el muql. MALAY: Lontar, Arrak.
BENGALI: Taala. MARATHI: Taad, Tadh.
CHINESE: Shan ye shu tou lu, Shan ye shou tou zong, Shan ye tang zong NEPALESE: Taadii, Taal.
DANISH: Palmyrapalme. PORTUGUESE: Broção, Palmira, Palmeira de leque, Palmeira de palmira.
DUTCH: Lontar, Lontarpalm, Palmyrapalm. RUSSIAN: Lontarovaia pal’ma, Pal’mira, Pal’mirova pal’ma
FINNISH: Palmyrapalmu. SINHALESE: Tuak?
FRENCH: Borasse, Palmier de Palmyre, Rondier, Ronier. ye shu tou lu SPANISH: Boraso, Palma palmira.
GERMAN: Borassuspalme, Lontaro, Palmyrapalme, Weinpalme. SWEDISH: Palmyrapalm.
GUJARATI: Taada. TAMIL: Karimbana, Pannei.
HIINDI: Taad, Tad mar, Tala. TELUGU: Karatalamu, Tatichettu.
ITALIAN: Palma de ferro, Palma de Sagu, Palma di Palmira. THAI: Maktan, Tan, Taan tanot, Taan yai.
JAPANESE: Parumira yashi, Ougi yashi. TURKISH: Tal.
KHMER: Dom Thuout. URDU: Taad.


Palmira is a robust palm that can live up to 100 years, growing to a height of 20 to 30 meters, growing slowly at the beginning and accelerating as it ages. Trunk is large and straight, ringed with leaf scars.Canopy of green-bluish leaves has several dozen fronds spreading 3 meters across. Fruit measures 4 to 7 inches in diameter, has a black husk, and borne in clusters. When cut, the top part of the fruit reveal three sweet, translucent, pale-white jelly seed sockets containing water fluid inside.


– Native to South and Southeast Asia.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings


(2) Sorting Borassus names / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher, / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 – 2000 The University of Melbourne.

(3) Sorting Passiflora names / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher, / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / A Work in Progress. School of Agriculture and Food Systems. Faculty of Land & Food Resources. The University of Melbourne. Australia / Copyright © 1997 – 2000 The University of Melbourne.

(4) Aerobiologic and immunochemical studies on Borassus flabellifer pollen: evidence for a 90-kD allergen / Chakraborty P, Chowdhury I, Gupta-Bhattacharya S, Roy I, Chatterjee S, Chanda S. / Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 1998 Apr;80(4):311-7.

(5) ANTIBACTERIAL ACTIVITY OF METHANOLIC SEED COAT EXTRACT OF BORASSUS FLABELLIFER L./ Govinda Rao Duddukuri, Y. Nagendra Sastry, D.S.V.G.K. Kaladhar, K. Kamalakara Rao, K. Krishna Chaitanya / International journal pharmaceutical sciences and research 01/2011; volume 2:748-751.

(6) Dichloromethane-methanol Extract from Borassus aethiopum Mart. (Arecaceae) Induces Apoptosis of Human Colon Cancer Ht-29 Cells / J. Sakande, P. Rouet-benzineb, H. Devaud, J.B. Nikiema, M. Lompo, O.G. Nacoulma, I.P. Guissou and A. Bado / Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, 14: 578-583. / DOI: 10.3923/pjbs.2011.578.583

(7) Nutritional analysis and antioxidant activity of palmyrah (Borassus flabellifer L.) seed embryo for potential use as food source / Karuppusamy Arunachalam, Shanmugam Saravanan, Thangaraj Parimelazhagan / Food Science and Biotechnology, February 2011, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 143-149

– Plant considered a rich source of phytoconstituents: gums, saponins, glycosides, carbohydrates, albuminoids, fats, vitamins A, B, and C.
– Male inflorescence yields spirostane-type steroid saponins (Borassosides and dioscin).
– Yielded flabelliferrins, a bitter compound of steroidal saponins. Spirosterol is a dominant aglycone in odiyal flour and palmyra inflorescence.
– Ungerminated seed embryos was found to be a good source of carbohydrates, fiber, fat, amino acids, protein.


Restorative, anthelminthic, and diuretic.

Parts used
Roots, leaves, and flowering stalks.

• Ripened fibrous outer layer of the palm fruit can be eaten raw, boiled, or roasted.
• The fruit’s yellow viscous fluid is made into various sweet dishes.


• Decoction used for gonorrhea and respiratory ailments.
• Leaf juice used for hiccups, gastric ailments.
• Bloom on base of leaves used as styptic for external wounds.
» Juice from flowering stalks used for diabetes.
• Used with rice as a poultice, fermented, and used for gangrenous and indolent ulcers and abscesses.
• In Indonesia, the sap is taken as laxative.

• Arrack: Toddy, the sugary sap is obtained from young inflorescences which can be fermented to make an arrack beverage or a concentrated crude sugar called jaggery.
• Thatching / Basketry: Leaves are used for thatching, for making mats, baskets, fans, hats and umbrellas.
• Paper: In Indonesia, leaves used in the ancient culture of paper making, known as “lontar.”
• Rope / Fences: In Indonesia, stems of leaves nailed together to make fences, and the skin of stems peeled off and used as rope. Stalks also used for making fences and cordage.
• Wood: Black timber is hard and highly valued for construction.


Study Findings
• Antiinflammatory: Evaluation of anti-inflammatory activity of ethanolic extract of Borassus flabellifer L. male flowers (inflorescences) in experimental animals: Extract showed dose-dependent antiinflammatory activity and supports it folkloric use as an antiinflammatory agent.
• Diabetes: New Spirostane-Type Steroid Saponins with Antidiabetogenic Activity from Borassus flabellifer: Methanolic extract studied yielded 6 new steroid saponins: borassosides A-F. Results showed inhibition of increase of serum glucose in sucrose-loaded rats.
• Neurotoxic Effect: Study on the neurotoxic effect of palmyrah shoot flour on Wistar rats showed a neurotoxic effect that appears to be a tissue non-specific damage reflected at a subclinical level. Neurotoxic effect was eliminated by heating detoxicification. The nutritional status of the diet influenced the manifestation of the toxic effect.
• Aeroallergen: Study investigated the aerobiologic and allergenic significance of the pollen of palmyra palm (Borassus flabellifer). Pollen grains were found present in the air from February to May and June, comprising 7% of total airborne pollen of the study area. The pollen is a dominant aeroallergen that can cause respiratory problems. The pollen extract isolated a 90-kD component, one of the major allergens.
• Antioxidant: Study showed the leaves and roots to possess antioxidant activity. The antioxidant potential of leaves to be greater than the roots. The activity was attributed to flavonoids, saponins, tannins and phenolic compounds in the leaf.
• Cytotoxic / Flabelliferin: Palmyrah flour (Odiyal) is known to yield a number of toxins with mutagenic, clastogenic, immunosuppressive, and mosquito larvicidal effects. A pressure liquid chromatography separation for dengue mosquito larvicide yielded a white amorphous solid. Study on a melanoma cell line showed cytotoxic activity on differentiating cancer lines.
• Antibacterial: Study of antibacterial activity of a methanol extract of seed coat against Gram-positive bacteria (Staph aureus, Bacillus subtilis) and Gram-negative bacteria (Klebsiella pneumonia and Serratia marcescens) showed consistent inhibitory activity on different bacterial species tested.
• Anticancer / Apoptosis of Human Colon Cancer Ht-29 Cells: An apolar extract from male inflorescence was studied on colon cancer HT29 cells. Phytochemical analysis yielded sterols triterpenes, and saponosids. The extract significantly inhibited cell proliferation by blocking cell population in G0/G1 phase. Results indicated anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic activities.
• Antioxidant / Nutrients / Potential Food Source: Study showed the plant seed embryo to possess micro/macro nutrients and antioxidant properties with neutraceutical potential for the treatment of malnutrition.