Caryota mitis Lour.

Last updated: 07 Apr 2016

Scientific Name

Caryota mitis Lour.


Caryota furfuracea Blume ex Mart., Caryota griffithii Becc., Caryota javanica Zipp. ex Miq. [Illegitimate], Caryota nana Linden, Caryota propinqua Blume ex Mart., Caryota sobolifera Wall. ex Mart., Caryota speciosa Linden, Drymophloeus zippellii Hassk., Thuessinkia speciosa Korth. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Leseh, Leuteu, mudor (Sarawak) [2]; beredin, meredin, merdin, dudok, tukus, tukas, kabong hutan [3]
English Smaller fish-tail palm [2], Burmese fishtail palm, cariota, clustered fishtail palm, fishtail palm, griffithii, toddy fishtail palm, tufted fishtail palm, wine palm [4]
India Mari supari, mei-hle, meihle, phoroto [5]
Indonesia Genduru (Javanese); suwangkung leutik, saraj (Sundanese); risi (Sumatran) [3]
Thailand Tao rang, khen ang mu [3]
Philippines Bato, pugahan [2][5]
Japan Kabu-dachi-kujaku-yashi [5]
Brazil Palmeira-rabo-de-peixe [5]
France Caryote doux [6]
Germany Buschige Fischscwanzpalme [6]
Sweden Tuvad fiskstjartspalm [6].

Geographical Distributions

Caryotis mitis was distributed in Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines [2]. It is now generally found throughout the world as it is a very popular ornamental palm [7][8].

Botanical Description

C. mitis is a member of the Palmae family. It is a cluster forming palm reaching up to a height of 8 m. [8]

The leaves are bipinnate, 1-3 m long. The leaflets are numerous obliguely wedge-shaped, 10-20 cm long. [8]

The inflorescences are borne among or below the leaves. They are usually 1.5 m long with up to 60 flowering branches. The flowers are purple to maroon. [8]

The fruits are globose, 2 cm in diameter, purple-black or reddish. [8]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

No documentation.

Plant Part Used

No documentation.

Traditional Use

Various parts of the plant have been used in many different ways by natives of countries where this plant grows in the wild. The kernels of the fruit and the terminal bud are edible but only after proper processing. The inflorescence can yield saps which can be consumed fresh as ‘nira’ or fermented to produce ‘toddy’, then distilled into potent ‘arak’. A process of refining the sap can produce sugar called jiggery which contains 2.3% protein and significant amount of vitamins.  The core of the growing tip can be cooked and eaten. Starch (sago) can be extracted from the pith which forms part of the diet of the aboriginal dwellers of the rainforest. More than that, it has beed used widely as an onamental. [7]

Preclinical Data

No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

Toxic parts

Fruit, leaves and stems contain various alkaloids. Pulp of mature fruit contains calcium oxalate crystals. Fibrous hairs of the leaf stalk produce skin irritation. [7]


Calcium oxalate, alkaloids and mechanical (fibrous hairs of base of leaf stalk). [7]

Risk management

As an ornamental plant, it should not pose much danger to children as the ripe fruits would be well above the reach of the child. However, it would be best if parents could cut off the fruit bunch as they begin to ripen and discard them. [7]

Poisonous clinical findings

The crystalline needles form the juice of the ripe fruit causes intense itching within seconds. This is followed by redness and swelling lasting up to 12 hours. It can also cause intense pain and irritation in the eye. If ingested it will result in painful burning sensation of the lips and oral cavity. The inflammatory reaction is often accompanied with oedema and blistering. Victim may experience hoarsness, dysphonia and dysphagia. If very severe it can result in asphyxiation should the larynx be affected. [7]


The crystals can be manually removed using adhesive tapes. However, the pain and swelling would subside slowly without treatment [7]. For those who ingested the fruits, cold liquids or demulcents can be giving and retained in the oral cavity in order to relieve the pain. Analgesics can be given if the pain is unbearable. There is however no danger of systemic oxalate poisoning as the calcium oxalate is insoluble [4].

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List.  Ver1.1. Caryota mitis Lour. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Apr 07]. Available from:
  2. Hanelt P, editor. Mansfeld's encyclopedia of agricultural and horticultural crops: (except ornamentals). Berlin: Springer; 2001. p. 2787.
  3. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 1. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR, 2002; p. 151.
  4. Nelson LS, Shih RD, Balick MJ. Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. 2nd ed. New York: Springer, 2007; p. 108-109.
  5. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume II C-D. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press; 2012. p.135.
  6. Wiersema JH, León B. World economic plants: A standard reference. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2013; p. 148.
  7. Nellis DW. Poisonous plants and animals of Florida and the Caribbean. Sarasota, Florida: Pineapple Press, 1997; p. 151.
  8. Henderson A. Palms of Southern Asia. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2009; p. 95.