Borassus flabellifer, also known as Palmyra Palm or Ice Apple, might sound like an alien term to many. But the fruit of this tree is a savior for the summers. The Palmyra Fruit, commonly known as Taal in the Indian subcontinent is one of the most favorite fruit for every person residing there. The fruit gives a very cooling effect and has a lot of nutritional values. It is full of health as well as skin benefits. Many doctors have been recommending this fruit to be essential for everyone. It is also grown for decorating and ornamental purposes in some places. Along with its healthy value, it is very delicious and is a very enjoyable treat for the scorching heat.
Some Other Names
Palmyra Palm has many different names in different countries and places. Its scientific name is Borassus flabellifer. It is also known as double palm, toddy palm, taal palm or wine palm.
The Palmyra Fruit is also popularly known as Taal, Talgora, Tal, Sugar Palm fruit or Ice Apple.
Where is it found?
The Palmyra palm is mainly native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It is very popular in places like – Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines of Southeastern Asia. And reportedly, it is naturalized in Pakistan, Socotra, and parts of China.
This fruit is a boon for these countries which sometimes become like a fireball in the summers.
It is a massive tree and has a height of up to 98 ft. the trunk of the tree is robust, grey and ringed with leaf scars. Old leaves cling to the trunk for several years before falling cleanly. The leaves are fan-shaped and have strong black teeth on the petiole margins.
The fruit grown on Palmyra palm has a black husk and is borne in clusters. It measures upto 4 to 7 inches in diameter. The outer part of the fruit has a green body and is slightly woody towards the ends. It is slightly thick and is removed to get to the inner fleshy part. From inside, the fruit resembles the litchi fruit because of its fleshy look. When the top part of the fruit is removed, it reveals three seed sockets, translucent pale white, covered in a thin yellowish-brown skin. These seed sockets are full of watery fluid and nutritions.
The Taal fruit has a very striking resemblance with the litchi fruit. But taste wise, it is way more flavourful and juicy. The proper ripened ones or the slightly unripe ones have a really sweet tint to it, while the mature fruits have less sweet content. But the juicy and fleshy nature of it is consistent in both. While some prefer to just have it as a fruit, many people like experimenting it into dishes.
- It is mainly eaten as a summer fruit. It can be found with the street vendors in huge numbers and becomes a blessing for the passer-by in the sizzling heat of summer months.
- The fruit is also made into some regional sweet dishes to be consumed as a treat. Taal-kheer is very popular in the West Bengal. They also make fritters from it, known as Taal-er bora.
- It can also be eaten boiled and tastes like coconut flesh.
- Its leaves are used for thatching, mats, baskets, fans, hats, umbrellas and also as writing materials.
- In the eastern part of India, the leaves are used to make hand fans.
- The stalks are used to make fences. The black timber is hard and is highly used for construction purposes.
- Its sap is used in sugar production.
- Fibres extracted from it are used for making brushes and brooms.
- The skin of the stem can be peeled off and used as ropes and also to weave into cots.
- Sugar palm fruit is rich in phosphorus and calcium. It has a negligible amount of protein.
- It is rich in vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamin B-complex and also Vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid.
- It also contains minerals like Potassium, Iron, and Zinc.
- Because of its rich nutritional values, it is suggested as a healthy option for diabetic people.
- It has no fats and hence can be a part of the diet.
- The pulp of the mature fruit can be used to cure Dermatitis.
- It also consists of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
- It is works as a great natural cooling coolant for the body.
- It helps settle the stomach from nausea or vomiting and also worm infection. Its sap can help in improving digestion.
- It is also used as a laxative. Its sap is used as a tonic, laxative for treating ulcers and liver problems.
- It also helps pregnant women overcome the nauseous feeling and also helps in their constipation related problems.
- It also helps bring down the intensity of chicken pox.
- It helps in strengthening bones and protects from heart related diseases.
- Due to its cooling properties, it can help in treating inflammatory skin problems like redness.
- It keeps the skin hydrating and makes it glowy.
- Rubbing the pulp of the fruit on the face can help in feeling refreshed and also prevent boils in the skin.
- It is very soothing for the skin.
- It alleviates all skin problems.
- The Palmyra tree is the official tree of Tamil Nadu and is highly respected in their culture.
- It is an economically important plant.
- It is dioecious in nature. The male and female inflorescences are borne on different trees.
- It belongs to the Arecacea family.
- The Asian Palmyra Tree is a symbol of Cambodia. It is grown all over the country.
- In the Hindu epic, Mahabharata, a Palmyra tree is the chariot- banner of Bheeshma.
- In Indonesia, the leaves of this tree were used in the ancient culture as paper, known as “lontar”.
- Many old religious texts of Hinduism and Buddhism were written in these palm leaves and have been preserved. In some places, it is still used for writing purposes.
- In some states of India and in Sri Lanka, the seeds are planted and made to germinate. That fleshy stem is then boiled or roasted and eaten. It is said to be very fibrous and nutritious.
- A young sap called toddy can be obtained from the young inflorescence. Toddy can be fermented to make a beverage called arrack. Or it can be concentrated to a crude sugar and made it into jaggery, also known as Taal Patali in Bengali.
- The crown of the tree when removed, the segment from which the leaves grow out is an edible cake. It is called as ‘pananchoru’ in Tamil or ‘thati adda’ in Telugu.
While for some it’s just a fruit with lots of nutritional values but for many it’s like a very nostalgic memory. Enjoying summer vacations in nani ghar (maternal grandmother’s house) and eating the Tal fruit with all the cousins in late afternoons, is becoming just a memory for the new tech-savvy kids. It is still unknown in many parts of the world. It is a very rare and exotic fruit which has made the summer bearable. It’s like a life saver for the travelers dying under the fiery sun. The taste of the fruit is a beauty on its own. Taal- an exotic delicious summer treat.