Salacca zalacca  • 

General description

The trunk is usually crawling just below the surface, leaving only the terminal part bearing leaves above ground. It produces many suckers and grows in very dense groups.

The pinnate leaves can reach 3-7 m long. The leaf sheaths, petioles and leaflets are covered with numerous long spines.

The leaves can reach 3-7 m long, the leaflets 20-70 cm long and 2-7.5 cm wide.

The plant is dioecious. The inflorescence is composed of several axillary spadices, surrounded by a spathe. The male inflorescence is 50-100 cm long and consists of 4-12 spadices each measuring 7-15 cm long. The female inflorescence is 20-30 cm long and composed of 1-3 spadices of 7-10 cm long.

The fruit is a globose to ellipsoid drupe, formed in clusters of 15-40 per spadix, 5-7 cm long and 5 cm in diameter, tapering towards the base and rounded at the top. The skin is composed of many overlapping scales, yellow to brown, each with a small fragile spine. The flesh is composed of 3 lobes of white pulp and contains 2-3 seeds. The flesh tastes like pineapple.

It is certainly not the most decorative palm tree with its bald lower trunk and fierce thorns trunk but if you find fruit at a local market, you can have fun by sowing the seeds. It is a very fast grower.

Plant requirements

Habitat: Plains, swampy rainforest between 0-500 m


Hardiness: USDA zone 10 (30 to 40 °F / -1.1 to 4.4 °C)

Soil: Permanently moist soil, slightly acidic
Exposure: Sun, partial shade
Propagation: Seed, division, layering
Division: separate suckers from the parent plant by cutting the underground rooted trunk

Sowing instructions:
Seeds must be very fresh as they lose viability very quickly
Sow in moist sphagnum or potting soil mixed with sand, cover in plastic bag at 30 °C - 86 °F
Germination time: 4-5 days

Keep soil moist at all times
Keep plantules in partial shade, older plants tolerate direct sunlight
Fertilizer for palm trees, twice a month, nothing in the winter
Use gloves when handling because of many thorns

Practical use

This palm is grown primarily for its edible fruit.
It is also used as a barrier: densely growing trunks carrying strong spines form an almost impenetrable barrier



1 - 600 cm
Soil type
Full sun, Partial shade
Poorly-drained, Moist but well-drained
Needs protection