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Salacca zalacca - (Gaertn.) Voss.

Common Name Salak Palm, Snake Palm
Family Arecaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling
Habitats Rich soils in moist, shaded forests, often forming impenetrable thickets when growing in swampy areas and along the sides of streams[297 ].
Range E. Asia - Malaysia.
Edibility Rating    (5 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Salacca zalacca Salak Palm, Snake Palm

Salacca zalacca Salak Palm, Snake Palm


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Salak Palm, Salacca zalacca, is a short-stemmed palm native to Java and Sumatra in Indonesia. It has long erect leaves up to 6m long, with each leaf having 2m long petiole with spines and leaflets. The trunk is underground. The fruits, which occur in clusters at the base of the palm, are characterized by its reddish-brown scaly skin. It can be eaten raw when fully ripe or made into candies. Unripe fruits, on the other hand, are used in salads. Among the about 30 cultivars of this plant, there are two popular cultivars named as salad poncho and salad Bali. There are no reported medicinal uses of Salak Palm. The leaflets are used for thatching and the bark of the petioles are used for matting.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Salacca zalacca is an evergreen Shrub growing to 4 m (13ft) by 4 m (13ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Salacca edulis Reinw.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Seed
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw[297 ]. An acid flavour[297 ]. Slightly crisp, with a delicious blend of acids and sugars and an apple-like flavour[200 , 301 ] The flesh is exceptionally firm and crisp for a tropical fruit[303 ]. It is quite sweet when fully ripe, but the unripe fruit is sour and astringent due to the presence of a little tannic acid[303 ]. Considered to be one of the finest of palm fruits for eating raw[301 ]. In Indonesia the fruits are also candied ('manisan salak'), pickled ('asinan salak') and fresh unripe ones may be used in 'rujak', a spicy salad of unripe fruit[303 ]. The reddish-brown, ovoid fruit is 6 - 8cm in diameter[200 ]. The seed is edible[301 ]. The seed kernels of the young fruits of the Javanese 'Pondoh' form are edible[303 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Fencing  Hedge  Thatching

Agroforestry Uses: A closely-planted row of palms forms an impregnable hedge and the very spiny leaves are also cut to construct fences[303 ]. Other Uses The bark of the petioles may be used for matting[303 ]. The leaflets are used for thatching[303 ].

Special Uses

Food Forest  Hedge

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the humid, lowland tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 500 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 - 30°c, but can tolerate 12 - 36°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,700 - 3,100mm, but tolerates 1,400 - 3,500mm[418 ]. Requires a deep, rich, moist soil and some shade[303 ]. Prefers a light-textured soil[418 ]. Young palms require heavy shade which may be reduced after about one year[303 ]. Because of its superficial root system, the palm requires a high water table, rain or irrigation during most of the year, but it does not stand flooding[303 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6, tolerating 4.5 - 6.5[418 ]. The palm starts flowering three to four years after sowing[303 ]. It can be productive for 50 years or more[303 ]. The scarce data available suggest that annual yields vary from 5 - 15 t/ha[303 ]. There are some named varieties[301 ]. A dioecious plant, requiring both male and female forms to be grown near each other if fruit and seed are required[200 ]. One male plant is usually adequate to fertilise nine females[200 ]. There is at least one monoecious variety[303 ]. 'Bali' produces inflorescences with both hermaphrodite and staminate flowers; the latter produce functional pollen[303 ]. Spacing: 10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m) 12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m) 15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m) 20-30 ft. (6-9 m).

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - pre-soak for 24 hours in warm water and sow in containers[297 ]. The seed needs to be fresh, it takes 2 - 3 months to germinate[297 ]. The seeds are sown directly in the field (2-5 seeds together in 5 cm deep holes) or in nursery beds. The seedlings are planted out in the field during the rainy season when they are a few months old[303 ]. Germination becomes visible when the cylindrical embryo-containing plug is extruded through the germpore at the kernel's apex. A radicle soon emerges from the tip of the plug and the shoot, a main root and several secondary roots emerge from the sides of this plug. About 60-90 days after sowing the first complete leaf, bifid and some 20-30 cm long, is fully expanded, the seedling still being firmly attached to the kernel[303 ]. Division of suckers[335 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Sala, Salak pasir, Ke shi sa la zong, Palmier a peau de serpent, Salakpalme, Sarakka yashi, Fruta cobra, Salaca, Rakam, orose, !oroce, calaica, chinese salasia|himbutu, courondi, gorashe, gorrasey, kadalainjil, korotee, kothala himbutu, ken tiú den, lacca sinica exsiccata, leather plum, mubeti, mumbete, mumbeti, okadimbwena, okadongodongo, okandongodongo, oudongodongo, pitila, sandfeldapfel, tambor waska, wild mango, wildelemoentjie.

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Indonesia, Asia, Australia, Burma, Fiji, Indochina, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pacific, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, Ponape, SE Asia, Thailand, USA

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(Gaertn.) Voss.

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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