Sunday, July 22, 2007

Nipah (Nypa fruticans)

This is a palm, like a coconut palm. But instead of a vertical stem, it has horizontal underground stems with tall leaves sprouting from the stem. The long palm leaves are used as roofing or 'attap' in traditional kampung houses.This palm is the source of 'attap-chee' which is the young seed. The part we eat is the source of food for the seedling (on the right is a photo of a sprouting seed).
This is the long stalk of tiny male flowers that produce pollen. Tiny stingless bees often gather at blossoming male flowers and pack the pollen baskets on their legs full of yellow pollen.
The female flowers are in the form of a ball. The yellow one is ready to attract pollinators through the little slits. This ball then turns into a ball of fruits.
The sap in a branch of blooms is full of sugars. Traditionally, the sap is collected and may be processed into 'gula melaka' or sweet brown sugar, also used in many of our deserts. Or fermented to produce the alcoholic 'toddy'.

Links to more about Nipah
on the Guide to the Mangroves of Singapore
Nipah (Nypa fruticans)

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