Arenga pinnata

Invasive species Disclaimer

In view of the fact that some tree species are invasive, the world Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) has put in place a policy document on Invasive Alien Species, currently under draft available at Here.

For more information on this subject, please refer to
100 of the World's worst Invasive and Alien Species.

Species Index    A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Multiple Criteria Search

Abelmoschus moschatus
Acacia aneura
Acacia angustissima
Acacia aulacocarpa
Acacia auriculiformis
Acacia catechu
Acacia cincinnata
Acacia crassicarpa
Acacia elatior
Acacia erioloba
Acacia etbaica
Acacia ferruginea
Acacia glauca
Acacia holosericea
Acacia karroo*
Acacia koa
Acacia laeta
Acacia lahai
Acacia leptocarpa
Acacia leucophloea
Acacia mangium
Acacia mearnsii*
Acacia melanoxylon
Acacia mellifera
Acacia nilotica subsp nilotica
Acacia pachycarpa
Acacia pennatula
Acacia polyacantha ssp. polyacantha
Acacia saligna
Acacia senegal
Acacia seyal
Acacia sieberiana
Acacia tortilis
Acacia xanthophloea
Acrocarpus fraxinifolius
Adansonia digitata
Adenanthera pavonina
Aegle marmelos
Afzelia africana
Afzelia quanzensis
Agathis macrophylla
Agathis philippinensis
Ailanthus altissima
Ailanthus excelsa
Ailanthus triphysa
Albizia adianthifolia
Albizia amara
Albizia anthelmintica
Albizia chinensis
Albizia coriaria
Albizia ferruginea
Albizia gummifera
Albizia julibrissin
Albizia lebbeck
Albizia odoratissima
Albizia procera
Albizia saman
Albizia versicolor
Albizia zygia
Aleurites moluccana
Allanblackia floribunda
Allanblackia stuhlmannii
Allanblackia ulugurensis
Alnus acuminata
Alnus cordata
Alnus japonica
Alnus nepalensis
Alnus rubra
Alphitonia zizyphoides
Alstonia boonei
Alstonia congensis
Alstonia scholaris
Altingia excelsa
Anacardium occidentale
Andira inermis
Annona cherimola
Annona muricata
Annona reticulata
Annona senegalensis
Annona squamosa
Anogeissus latifolia
Anthocephalus cadamba
Antiaris toxicaria
Antidesma bunius
Araucaria bidwillii
Araucaria cunninghamii
Arbutus unedo
Areca catechu
Arenga pinnata
Argania spinosa
Artemisia annua
Artocarpus altilis
Artocarpus camansi
Artocarpus heterophyllus
Artocarpus integer
Artocarpus lakoocha
Artocarpus mariannensis
Asimina triloba
Ateleia herbert-smithii
Aucomea klaineana
Averrhoa bilimbi
Averrhoa carambola
Azadirachta excelsa
Azadirachta indica
Azanza garckeana
Related Links
Young plant.
© Haynes J.
Detail of trunk covered in fiber.
© Haynes J.
Young plant with six leaves.
© Huntington T.
Palm in the Kew Gardens, London.
© Pavone P.

Local names:
Burmese (taung-ong), English (arenga palm,sugar palm,sagwine), French (palmier areng,palmier à sucre), German (Zuckerpalme), Indonesian (ejow,gomuti,aren,kaong), Italian (palma dello zucchero,palma arenga), Lao (Sino-Tibetan) (taw tad), Spanish (palma az

Arenga pinnata is a solitary, unarmed, pleonanthic, monoecious feather palm. The bole is solitary, unbranched and usually reaches a height of 15-20 m, with a diameter of about 30-40 cm.

Leaves pinnate, ascending, up to 8.5 m long. Leaflets dark green above and whitish beneath, giving the trees a dirty greenish appearance. The leaf sheaths cover the stem; their margins are fibrous with black hairs. Young leaf sheaths are usually covered on their lower surfaces with an abundance of soft, mosslike white hairs.

The first inflorescence arises from a node near the top meristem. Inflorescences appear in descending order from the uppermost leaf axil and continue for about 2 years until the palm is exhausted and dies. Each node bears only one inflorescence.

Fruits are yellow when mature, about 5 cm in diameter, with 2-3 seeds each.


Native to southeast Asia, occurring in tropical rainforest and dry forest. Usually it grows close to human settlements where anthropic propagation plays a major role. Otherwise it prefers secondary forest at the border of primary rainforests.

Native range
Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam

Tree management

Depending on altitude and temperature and to a lesser degree on factors such as soil fertility, climate and competing vegetation, the palms will stay in the rosette stage for 3.5-6 years, and then grow to full size in another 3-9 years. Usually after 5-6 years, the fibres can be collected for the first time and after that, every 2 years. When the palm begins flowering, tapping for the sweet sap can start, but farmers usually wait for the first male flowers. The sap is usually tapped only from male inflorescence stalks, because female inflorescences are said to produce sap of inferior quality, and the more fibrous stalk of the females requires extra effort to prepare. Usually, the closer to the ground the male inflorescence arises, the less sap it produces. One inflorescence can produce about 5 litres of sap a day. An inflorescence of sugar palm can be tapped for 1-2 months, and 2-4 inflorescences may be tapped at a time. Since sago, the starchy layer on the inner part of the trunk, is obtained only by cutting trees, it is usually the last product obtained; trees are usually cut for sago when they are more than 30 years old.

As the heavy shade and the dense root system of the sugar palm limit its combination with other crop plants, it is best planted on steeper slopes, easily eroding lands, or in single or double rows near the boundaries of fields, where it contributes to soil stabilization without taking up considerable land area.

Behaviour of seed in storage is recalcitrant; the seed is short-lived, and only 25% survive for 3 months in open storage.

Native to southeast Asia, occurring in tropical rainforest and dry forest. Usually it grows close to human settlements where anthropic propagation plays a major role. Otherwise it prefers secondary forest at the border of primary rainforests.

The best method of producing planting stock is through nursery-raised seedlings from selected seeds. Seeds should be scratched near the germination spot until the brown, inner seed-coat layer becomes visible, then soaked in water overnight. An alternative is a pretreatment in water of around 30 deg. C for 24 hours. The seeds should then be seeded in a clean medium with good aeration, planted with the germination spot downward and covered with a 1-cm layer of sand. The sand should be kept moist at all times. Within 2-3 weeks about 80% of the seeds will have germinated and can be transplanted to any type of container.

Direct sowing is possible but seedlings take a long time to establish well and may grow at irregular distances. Untreated seeds freely dispersed show 10-20% germination after 6 months. A. pinnata can also be propagated through suckers.

Poison:  The roots of A. pinnata are a useful insect repellent.

Erosion control:  Root up to 3 m deep and 10 m wide contribute to soil stabilization.

  A. pinnata is a popular plant because of its year-round food production, especially in the dry season when other food is scarce. Its most important product is sweet sap, called saguer, which is used as a drink and as the raw material for sugar production. Fruits contain 6.8% moisture, 7.9% ash, 16.2% crude fibre, 10% crude protein and 1.5% fat. Trees more than 15 years old produce, which people in some parts of Indonesia use like rice as a staple food. A sago-like flour can be ground from the trunk pith and used for cakes, noodles and other dishes. A product typically made from A. pinnata in West Java is kolang kaling, the cooked endosperm of young sugar palm fruits. One infructescence yields about 4 500 endosperms. It is used for a cocktail and local refreshment known as kolak. The stem is a form of sago, which is converted into sugar when the palm first begins to flower. Palm cabbage is eaten raw as a salad or cooked.

Apiculture:  The flowers are a good source of nectar for honey production.

Old woody leaf bases as well as the long leaves, can be used for fuel. The hairs found on the base of the leaf sheaths are very good tinder for igniting fire.

Fibre:  The leaf sheath is a source of a tough, black fibre (gomuti or yonot fibre). It is used chiefly for a durable rope tolerant of both fresh and salt water and of fire; it is used for marine work, thatching and brushes. The split petioles are used for basketry and a form of marquetry. The youngest leaves are sometimes used as cigarette paper.

Timber:  The very hard outer part of the trunk is used for barrels, flooring and furniture. Posts for pepper vines, boards, tool handles and musical instruments like drums are all made from the wood of A. pinnata. 

Medicine:  Roots provide medicinal products, such as a tea decoction used to cure bladder trouble.

Intercropping:  Although sugar palm grows very well among larger trees when there is sufficient overhead light, very few plants thrive under it. Coffee and pineapple survive under these palms but hardly yield. The tree has a relatively short life span, which must be considered when promoting it as a species for agroforestry or any programme directed towards its propagation. The life span, however, fits well into the practiced rotation cycles of shifting cultivation in Indonesia, which are usually between 12 and 15 years in traditional systems.

Alcohol:  A simple distillation process applied to the fermented sugar sap produces tuak, a beverage containing over 30% alcohol.