Arenga pinnata (Wurmb) Merr.

Last updated: 02 Jun 2016

Scientific Name

Arenga pinnata (Wurmb) Merr.


Arenga gamuto Merr., Arenga griffithii Seem. ex H.Wendl., Arenga saccharifera Labill. ex DC., Borassus gomutus Lour., Caryota onusta Blanco, Gomutus rumphii Corrêa, Gomutus saccharifer (Labill. ex DC.) Spreng., Gomutus vulgaris Oken, Saguerus gamuto Houtt. [Invalid], Saguerus pinnatus Wurmb, Saguerus rumphii (Corrêa) Roxb., Saguerus saccharifer (Labill. ex DC.) Blume, Sagus gomutus (Lour.) Perr. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Enau, kabong, berkat [2], berkat, bakeh (Semang); enau, habong, henau, inau, kabong, nau [3]
English Sugar palm, areng palm [2], areng palm, arenga palm, black-fiber palm, black sugar palm, gomuti palm, sagwire-palme, sugar palm, toddi palm [3]
China Guang lang, suo mu, sha tang ye zi, tang shu [3]
India Thangtung, thanglung (Mizoram); alam panai (Tamil) [3]
Indonesia Aren, enau, kawung [2], inau, anau, enau, nau, hanau, peluluk, biluluk, kabung, kabung enau, juk, ijuk, bergat, mergat (Sumatra); aren, lirang, nanggung (Java); kawung, taren (Sundanese); akol, akel, akere, inru, indu (Sulawesi); moka, moke, tuwa, tuwak (Nusa Tenggara); ejow, gomuti, kaong [3]
Thailand Chok (Southern); tao (Northern) [2]; aren, chok, kaong tao, luk chid [3]
Laos Ta:w ta:d [2]
Myanmar Taung-ong [2], taung, taung-ong [3]
Philippines Kaong, kabo-negro, kauing (Tagalog); bagobat, hidiok (Bisaya); hidiok (Bikol); bagatbat, bagobat, bat-bat, iliok, idiog, idiok, onay, unau (Cebu Bisaya); rapitan (Iloko); hiliok (Manabo); hidiok, igok (Panay Bisaya);irok (Sambali) [2][3]
Cambodia Chuëk', chra [2]
Vietnam B[us]ng b[as]ng, do[as]c, do[as]t [2], bung, bang, doac Dot [3]
Arabs Nakhlet es sukkar [3]
Portugal Gomuteira [3]
Germany Zuckerpalme, Echte Zuckerpalme, Gomuti-Palme [3]
France Palmier à sucre, palmier areng [2], palmier a sucre, palmier aren, palmier areng, palmier condiar [3]
Spain Baru, bary, palma de azucar, palmera del azucar [3]
Netherlands Arengpalm, arenpalm, gomoetoepalm, sagoeweerpalm, suikerpalm [3]
Russia Sakharnia pal’ma [3].

Geographical Distributions

Arenga pinnata is thought to be indigenous where it is encountered at present except for the Pacific Islands and a few places in Africa where it has been introduced. This implies that its origin lies in an area covering Southeast Asia up to Irian Jaya in the east, extending north-eastwards to the Ryukyu Islands (Japan) and north-west to Annam (Vietnam) and the eastern Himalayas. It is mostly found near villages. It is found growing wild in a primary or secondary forest. [2]

Botanical Description

A. pinnata is a member of the Arecaceae family. It is a moderate to tall unbranched, hapaxanthic and solitary palm. The roots are black and very strong which are extend far (sometimes more than 10 m long) from the stem and going as deep as 3 m. The trunk is 10-20 m long, measuring 30-65 cm in diametre, covered by bases of broken-off leaves and with long black-grey fibres. The crown is dense and with 12-20(-28) erect to spreading leaves. The pinnate leaves are 6-10(-12) m long. [2]

The petiole is 1-1.5(-2.3) m long and with sheath at the base. The strap-like leaflets are numerous (80-130(-155), measuring 140-180 cm x 8-11 cm, crowded along the rachis and held in several planes, with auricles at the base, rounded or obtuse and toothed at the apex, smooth above and scabrous beneath. [2]

The inflorescence is usually unisexual, pendulous, often more than 2 m long, arises from the leaf axil while the peduncle breaks up into a number of flower-bearing spikes. The female inflorescences are 3-7 formed at the top while the male ones is 7-15, which appears later and lower on the stem. The flowers are with 3 coriaceous sepals, a 3-lobed petal and tubular at the base. The male flowers are up to 11, 500 per inflorescence with many stamens, greenish to bronzy when still closed and yellowish when open. The female flowers are up to 15,000 per inflorescence with a spherical and trilocular ovary. [2]

The fruit is a spherical to ellipsoid drupe, measures 5-8 cm long and fleshy. The first stage of fruiting is green but later turns yellow and black after falling. The fruit is 2-3-seeded where the seed is black. [2]


A. pinnata grows best in warm conditions with a maximum amount of light and abundant water supply on very fertile soils. However, it can grow under a wide variety of conditions, both in equatorial and seasonal climates, from sea level up to 1400 m altitude, on all soil types from heavy loam to loamy sand and lateritic soils that are not regularly inundated. The growth rate drops substantially where growing conditions are less favorable. It is wild in primary or secondary forests, occurs especially on sites poor in nutrients and in marginal areas such as denuded hillsides. The age of first flowering depends strongly upon the altitude, being 5-7 years at sea level and 12-15 years at 900 m altitude. [2]

Chemical Constituent

No documentation.

Plant Part Used

Roots, seeds, stems, petioles. [3]

Traditional Use

The fibres from theA. pinnata stem and petiole are considered styptic, and are used as a haemostatic and cicatrizant to wound. The Filipinos considered it is as diuretic and antithermic treatments. [3]

In Malaysia, the decoction of the A. pinnata young roots is used in the treatment of kidney stones while the old roots are chewed on to help relieve toothache. A number of reports mentioned that the use of the decoction of the roots as a remedy for bronchitis, an aid to digestion and improvement of appetite. [3][4]

Preclinical Data

No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

Toxic parts

The half-ripe fruit wall and juice of the ripe fruit [5]


Calcium oxalate crystals. [5]

Risk management

A. pinnata is considered poisonous and it is usually avoided by natives of the rainforest. There is a high level of calcium oxalate crystals in the seed-coat. However, the seeds itself is much revered by the Malay population especially during the month of ramadhan (biji kabong). To avoid poisoning the fruit wall is removed and the seeds repeatedly washed. The endosperm is then soaked in lime water for a few days and then boiled in sugar solution. The juice of the ripe fruit is used as a fish poison and can’t be consumed. [5]

Poisonous clinical findings

No documentation.


No documentation.

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of A. pinnata [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Arenga pinnata (Wurmb) Merr. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 May 31]. Available from:
  2. Smits WTM. Arenga pinnata (Wurmb) Merrill In: Flach M, Rumawas F, editors. Plant resources of South-East Asia No. 9: Plants yielding non-seed carbohydrates. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publishers, 1996; p. 53-58.
  3. Lim TK. Edible medicinal and non-medicinal plants. Volume 1, fruits. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer, 2012; p. 280-284.
  4. Lalfakzuala R, Lalramnghinglove H, Kayang H. Ethnobotanical usages of plants in western Mizoram. Indian J Tradit Know. 2007; 6(3): 486-493.
  5. Jules J, Robert EP. The encyclopedia of fruit and nuts. Oxfordshire: CAB International; 2008. p. 87–88.