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.
- 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.
Roots, leaves, and flowering
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
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.
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
• 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.