The other common names of Fishtail Palm are Jaggery Palm, Toddy Palm, Sago Palm, and Wine Palm. Mari in Hindi, Bagane, Bagani, Baine, Paine in Kannada. The botanical name is Caryota urens and belongs to Arecaceae (Palm) family. Urens means sting in Latin, and this refers to the chemicals in the fruit. Fishtail Palm tree is native to India, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka.
I first saw this tree in Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary. It is popular as an ornamental plant in public gardens.
The single trunk of the tree is grey and can grow to a height of 30 feet. The trunk of the tree is covered by leaf scars that are left as the tree grows in height. The leaf is green and shaped triangular and resembles the fin of a fish and hence the name Fishtail Palm. The leaves are around 3.5 meters long with jagged edges.
The flowers of the tree are white and blooms in bunches hanging down. It is a beautiful sight.
The fruit is a round 1 cm drupe, red with a single seed. When the stiff hair of the fruit is removed, the fruit is ready to eat and it tastes sweet and enjoyable. When the flower and fruit process is complete, the tree dies as these types of plants are monocarpic.
Juice is extracted from the trunk and flowers. It is boiled to a syrup and is consumed as liquid jaggery (sweetener). The leaf and the pulp of this plant are fed to the Elephants.
The fibres from the leaves are used to make baskets in Cambodia.