Arenga pinnata (Wurmb) Merrill


Arenga pinnata (Wurmb) Merrill




Arenga saccharifera Labill.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Enau, kabong, berkat.
English Sugar palm, areng palm.
Indonesia Aren, enau, kawung.
Philippines Kaong (Tagalog), bagobat (Bisaya), hidiok (Bisaya).
Burma (Myanmar) Taung-ong.
Cambodia Chuëk', chraè.
Laos Ta:w ta:d (Northern).
Thailand Chok (Southern), tao (Northern).
Vietnam B[us]ng b[as]ng, do[as]c, do[as]t.
French Palmier à sucre, palmier areng

Geographical Distributions

Arenga pinnata is thought to be indigenous where it is encountered at present except for the Pacific Islands and a few places in Africa where it has been introduced. This implies that its origin lies in an area covering Southeast Asia up to Irian Jaya in the east, extending north-eastwards to the Ryukyu Islands (Japan) and north-west to Annam (Vietnam) and the eastern Himalayas. It is mostly found near villages. It is found growing wild in a primary or secondary forest.


A. pinnata is a moderate to tall unbranched, hapaxanthic and solitary palm. The roots are black and very strong which are extend far (sometimes more than 10 m long) from the stem and going as deep as 3 m. The trunk is 10-20 m long, measuring 30-65 cm in diametre, covered by bases of broken-off leaves and with long black-grey fibres. The crown is dense and with 12-20(-28) erect to spreading leaves. The pinnate leaves are 6-10(-12) m long.

The petiole is 1-1.5(-2.3) m long and with sheath at the base. The strap-like leaflets are numerous (80-130(-155), measuring 140-180 cm x 8-11 cm, crowded along the rachis and held in several planes, with auricles at the base, rounded or obtuse and toothed at the apex, smooth above and scabrous beneath.

The inflorescence is usually unisexual, pendulous, often more than 2 m long, arises from the leaf axil while the peduncle breaks up into a number of flower-bearing spikes. The female inflorescences are 3-7 formed at the top while the male ones is 7-15, which appears later and lower on the stem. The flowers are with 3 coriaceous sepals, a 3-lobed petal and tubular at the base. The male flowers are up to 11, 500 per inflorescence with many stamens, greenish to bronzy when still closed and yellowish when open. The female flowers are up to 15,000 per inflorescence with a spherical and trilocular ovary.

The fruit is a spherical to ellipsoid drupe, measures 5-8 cm long and fleshy. The first stage of fruiting is green but later turns yellow and black after falling. The fruit is 2-3-seeded where the seed is black.

Ecology / Cultivation

A. pinnata grows best in warm conditions with a maximum amount of light and abundant water supply on very fertile soils. However, it can grow under a wide variety of conditions, both in equatorial and seasonal climates, from sea level up to 1400 m altitude, on all soil types from heavy loam to loamy sand and lateritic soils that are not regularly inundated. The growth rate drops substantially where growing conditions are less favorable. It is wild in primary or secondary forests, occurs especially on sites poor in nutrients and in marginal areas such as denuded hillsides. The age of first flowering depends strongly upon the altitude, being 5-7 years at sea level and 12-15 years at 900 m altitude.

Line Drawing / Photograph


Read More

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  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 9: Plants yielding non-seed carbohydrates.