Palmyra palm tree is also known as African fan palm, Borassus palm, Doub palm, Great fan palm, Lontar palm, Ron palm, Toddy palm, and Wine palm. In Hindi it is known as Taad, Kannada it is Taatinungu, Tamil it is Talam, Sanskrit it is Taalah. Botanical name is Borassus flabellifer and belongs to Arecaceae (Palm) family.
As you cross the border from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu, seeing the sheer number of Palmyra grown in this part of the region, it is evident that this tree has to be the state tree of Tamil Nadu and indeed it is!
Palmyra Palm Tree is native of tropical Africa but is grown throughout India. There are many species of this tree that grows around the world. The tree grows to a height of 30 meters. Leaves are grayish green, fan-shaped, leathery, 1 – 3 meters wide.
The stalks of the leaves are long and the edges are lined with hard spines. The flowers bloom in clusters and are white string-like inflorescence.
Fruits are like Coconut, round, 15 – 25 cm wide and capped at the base. Each fruit contains 3 large seeds. When the fruit is very young, the kernel is hollow, sweet, aromatic, soft as jelly and translucent like ice. In the middle is a watery sweetish and edible liquid. Each seed is enclosed in a woody endocarp. During summer, it is refreshing to bite into the fruit. It is a great coolant!
The sweet sap of the tree is collected to be consumed as toddy. The toddy ferments after few hours after sunrise.
Palm Sugar, a king of jaggery is also obtained by the sap of the tree.
Parts of the tree are used as building materials, boats, furniture, and handicrafts. The leaves have been used as writing material to pen ancient scripts and poems by writers. A stylus was used to write on these leaves and the completed leaves were tied us as sheaves.
All parts of the tree is used in traditional medicine to cure innumerable diseases.