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Sugar palm (Arenga pinnata)

Enau or aren or moka or sugar palm (Arenga pinnata) is a plant species, the most important palm after coconut (Cocos nucifera) in Arecaceae which is a versatile plant, growing to 25 m high and 65 cm in diameter, stems sturdy and at the top wrapped in by black fibers as leaf fronds that surround the stem.

A. pinnata has pinnate compound leaves, up to 5 m long with stems up to 1.5 m. Minor leaves such as corrugated ribbon, 7x145 cm, dark green on the top and whitish by a layer of wax on the bottom.

Dlium Sugar palm (Arenga pinnata)

The male flowers separate from the female flowers in different cobs that appear in the armpit of the leaf and are up to 2.5 m long. Bullet-shaped fruit for a diameter of 4 cm, has three chambers and three seeds and arranged in chains.

Each bunch has 10 or more stalks and each stalk has approximately 50 rows of green or yellowish brown fruit. This fruit cannot be eaten directly because the sap causes severe itching.

Aren are easy to grow in tropical Asia, grow wild or planted on slopes or river cliffs at altitudes up to 1,400 m. The sap causes itching, but ripe fruit is preferred by many animals including weasels and wild boar which indirectly function as seed dispersers.


Enau produces many things and is popular as a versatile plant, especially the producer of sugar obtained by tapping bunches of male flowers that start to bloom and scatter the yellow pollen.

These bunches are first blended by striking them for several days until liquid sap comes out called Nira, then cut and using bamboo to collect the dripping, sweet and murky white liquid.

The sap is immediately cooked until it thickens and becomes liquid sugar. This liquid sugar is processed using other ingredients to freeze and print into chunks of sugar or add a separator to form crystalline sugar.

The sap is also usually fermented into an alcoholic drink called tuak by applying one or several kinds of bark or roots including Xylocarpus and Garcinia for one to several days. Tuak has a sweet, sour or bitter taste depending on the herbs added.


Each fruit has 2 or 3 white endosperm wrapped in a thin hard shell. Young fruit is still soft and somewhat clear, usually burned or boiled to remove it and then the seed cores are soaked in lime water for several days to remove the itchy and poisonous sap.

Another way is the young fruit after peeled and then steamed for three hours, the core of the beaten until flattened and then soaked in water for 10-20 days. The core of the processed seeds is then traded on the market as atep or fro as a mixture of cold drinks, sweets or cooked as syrup.


Leaves are commonly used as roofing material. The leaf tips are used as cigarette leaves. Leaf sheets are also used as wrappers of palm sugar or durian fruit. These leaf sheets are often spun into ropes and sticks produced for plaited goods and brooms.

The fibers are spun into ropes that are very strong, durable and resistant in sea water. Fibers can also be used as a roofing material, brush and broom maker. The fronds and petioles are processed for strong, durable fibers to be used as thread, fishing line and guitar strings.


Hard woody stems on the outside and somewhat soft fibrous on the inside are used as boards, rafters or made into sticks. Pith or gumbar can be crushed and processed to produce sago. Stems that are split lengthwise and discarded pith are used as waterways. The root is also to produce fiber for webbing, fishing line or whip.

Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Arecales
Family: Arecaceae
Genus: Arenga
Species: A. pinnata



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