Nipa palm (Nipa fruticans)

Nipa palm fruit/nutsThe Nipa palm has a short, mainly underground, horizontal trunk (from above ground it appears to have no trunk at all) and very large, erect leaves up to 9 meters (30 feet) tall. The leaves are divided into leaflets. A flowering head forms on a short erect stern that rises among the palm leaves. The flowers are globular shape with catkin-like red or yellow flowers on the lower branches.  The flowers yield a woody nut arranged in a cluster.  This fruiting (seed) head is dark brown and may be 30 centimeters (12 inches) in diameter. The ripe nuts separate from the cluster and float away.

Nipa palm growing on bank of riverWhere to Find: This palm is common on muddy shores in coastal regions throughout eastern Asia.  They prefer soft mud and slow moving tidal and river waters.  The palm can be found inland too.

Edible Parts: The young flower stalk and the seeds provide a good source of water and food. Cut the flower stalk and collect the sweet juice. The juice is rich in sugar. The seeds are hard but edible.  Immature fruits will be hard, jelly-like.  The petals of the flower can be brewed to make tea.

Other Uses: The leaves are excellent as thatch and coarse weaving material and make excellent roof material for thatched dwellings.  The large stems are buoyant and can be used as a semi-floatation device.

Nipa palm trees appear to have no trunk (trunk is underwater)

Round, ball-like Nipa palm fruit cluster

Nipa palm fruit cluster

Nipa palm flowers can be boiled to make tea

Nipa palm flowers

Color drawing of Nipa palm tree and its components