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Edible Wild Food Source - The Sugar Palm

Sugar Palm (Arenga)

The Sugar palm, scientifically named Arenga,is a common palm in throughout Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Usually, it is found more interior than other types of palms. It grows typically to around thirty-five feet and has a dense top of crown leaves. It is known by a variety of local names:

  • Arenga palm
  • Areng palm
  • Black fiber palm
  • Gomuti palm
  • Aren
  • Irok
  • Kaong

sugar palm.jpg

The terminal bud is considered edible, but should only be eaten with caution and as a last resort. The most edible part of this palm is the sugary sap, which can be collected by butting the flower spikes. The mature fruits are often canned. However, the raw juice and pulp are acidic and burning, and should not be consumed without cooking.

In some parts of the world it is considered rare, but not endangered. However, it is an important food source for endangered species. In India, it is a sugar known as gur, and also made into both vinegar and wines. Another use of the Sugar palm is ethanol. Additionally, the black fibrous portion of the base of the leaf stalk can make an excellent material for fishing lines and cord.

Dwarf Sugar Palm

Dwarf Sugar Palm

A Warning and a Few Thoughts!

First A Warning! -- The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only. Be sure you have properly identified a wild edible plant BEFORE you consume it. Remember that some palms, like the Sago palm have look-a-likes, that are poisonous.  Additionally, you can be allergic to some edible plants, just like you can be allergic to foods that others can consume safely. If you at all unsure, just eat a little at first.

Bottom line -- you are 100% responsible for proper plant identification, and thoroughly researching the plant you are considering eating.  Finally -- I'm not advocating you kill a palm tree just to experience eating one. I'm much more interested in opening closed food minds, into being knowledgeable about foods that aren't generally found on the shelves of our generic American grocery stores. Also, remember in terms of a plant being edible, that doesn't always translate to a plant tasting good.