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by : BTF

As I Wander...

Living in tropical Malaysia, we tend to take the hot humid weather, thundery rainstorms and the spectrum of wild evergreen plants as a given.

Recently, I noticed more exotic plants making its way into landscaped home gardens, recreational parks, frontages of shopping malls and
commercial buildings.

Along kerb sides of residential streets and busy motorways, palms, trees and flowering plants make pleasant and interesting fringes.

This is a record of the various species "as I see it" for I am in awe of palms. Hence, my premise for this blog is that the global garden,
i.e. every physical garden (tended or untended), becomes a part of my, simply said, cyber palm garden. ;-)

Please feel free to share your thoughts or comments.

Thank you for visiting!

ShaShinKi - Malaysia's Online Camera Shop!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Nipah Palm

Botanical name : Nypa fruticans

This has got to be the best part of the Kuala Selangor trip (besides the food!).  Notched up another indigenous beauty - the nipah or mangrove palm.  Found this clump behind some stilted homes of a fishing village along the muddy tributary of the Selangor river.

                                                  nipah habitat - slow flowing, calm tributary

A grand beauty with tall, straight, glossy dark green pinnate leaves which resemble the coconut palms, arising from the mud.  As one could not see the trunk, it's easy to imagine the leaves appeared right out of the ground. Strangely, the trunk of the nipah palm lies horizontally below ground and where one sees a clump of fronds, that's where the branches end!

                                                                      poised in the sun

Although the top layer of mud appears hard enough to step on to get closer to the palms, a villager advised not to since it.s unpredictably soft beneath besides mucky for my city shoes. There were several stalks of inflorescence and some mature fruits. Thus, being on that rickety platform (left down), unable to get nearer, it felt helplessly being so near yet so far...

                                                      thrives on nutrients brought in by tides

Unfortunately, it's not too clearly seen in this picture but there were a few round globes of chestnut-brown, woody nuts on stalks. The opened nuts looked like beautiful wood roses. The seeds in these nuts are dispersed by water therefore nipah palms can be found along many tropical mangrove coasts from India to South-east Asia and even as far south as Northern Australia.

The leafy fronds serve as thatching (attap roofs) materials while younger leaves are used for wrapping cigarettes. Sap from the inflorescence stalks are brewed  for an alcoholic drink (toddy) or cooking vinegar or boiled down to make a delicious brown sugar (gula melaka).  The sticky, white translucent, deliciously chewy, young seeds known as 'attap chee' are commonly used as ingredients in local desserts viz. the 'ice kacang' and 'bubur cha cha' - yum!

If you are based overseas and keen to get a taste of this delicacy, the attap chee (attap seeds) are sold in tin cans, available at most Asian food shops. Tasteless on its own, suggest try some with ice cream!

Not just a stunning, interesting palm in mangrove habitat, it's a great food source too. Sorry, you can't have it in your suburbia garden...

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