We have recently published ‘Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions’: i.e. tropical and sub-tropical regions. We rely on regular donations to keep our free database going and help fund development of this and another book we are planning on food forest plants for Mediterranean climates. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


Nypa fruticans - Wurmb.

Common Name Nipa Palm, Mangrove Palm
Family Arecaceae
USDA hardiness 11-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Mangrove swamps, tidal areas in deep mud in swampy coastal lowland areas, growing in water or subject to tidal inundation[200 , 297 ].
Range E. Asia - India, Malaysia, Indo-China to northern Australia.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Wet Soil Water Plants Full sun
Nypa fruticans Nipa Palm, Mangrove Palm

Bernard DUPONT
Nypa fruticans Nipa Palm, Mangrove Palm


Translate this page:


Nipa Palm or Nypa fruticans, a native to the coastlines and estuarine habitats of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, is an unusual palm tree because its trunk grows beneath the ground and only its leaves and flower stalks grow above the surface. The trunk can reach up to 45 cm in diameter and the leaves can each be up to 6 m long.The inflorescence of this palm is globose and comprised of female flowers at the tip and male flowers at the lower branches. It is edible and also yields sugary sap used mainly to make alcoholic beverages, syrup, sugar, and vinegar. The seed is eaten raw; it is harvested when fruits are immature. Plant parts have medicinal uses and specifically used in traditional medicine to treat toothache, headache, ulcers, and centipede bites. The leaves are used for thatching and making baskets and mats, and considered to be of superior quality than coconut thatch. Nipa palm can be grown from seeds or by dividing off suckers.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Nypa fruticans is an evergreen Shrub growing to 5 m (16ft) by 5 m (16ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Flies.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist or wet soil and can grow in water.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Cocos nypa Lour. Nipa fruticans Thunb. Nipa litoralis Blanco

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Sap  Seed
Edible Uses: Drink  Sweetener

Seed - raw[301 ]. Harvested when the fruits are immature, the seed has a delicious creamy flavour[297 ]. The white endosperm of immature seeds is sweet and jelly-like, and is consumed as a snack[303 ]. The mature seeds are sometimes eaten, but are very hard[459 ]. A sugary sap is obtained from the inflorescence[46 , 297 ]. It is used mainly to make an alcoholic beverage, but also to make syrup, sugar and vinegar[297 ]. The inflorescence is cooked in the syrup obtained from the inflorescence to produce an energy-giving sweetmeat[301 ].

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.
Mouthwash  Odontalgic  Stings

Various parts of nipa palm are a source of traditional medicines (e.g. juice from young shoots is used against herpes, ash of burned nipa material against toothache and headache)[303 ]. The plant (part not specified) is used as a remedy for the bites of centipedes and as a cure for ulcers[459 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Tropical Plants

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Temperate Plants

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital media.
More Books

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital formats. Browse the shop for more information.

Shop Now

Other Uses

Basketry  Broom  Fibre  Roofing  Shelterbelt  Soil stabilization  Tannin  Teeth  Thatching  Weaving

Agroforestry Uses: The plant has been used for erosion control along coastal mudflats[200 ]. Other Uses The leaves are an excellent material for thatching and basket making[46 , 200 , 297 , 459 ]. They can also be woven into walls[297 ]. When used for thatching, the leaflets are stripped from the rachis and formed into a thick fringe (tagon) on a reed. After having been thoroughly dried the thatch is secured to the framework of the roof by lashings of pandanus leaves split up the middle and deprived of their stiff keel. Two men work at a time on each reed, beginning at the eaves and working toward the ridge, which is covered with a sort of braided matting secured in place by pins passing under the ridge-pole and projecting on each side. The leaves are considered to be far superior to and more durable than coconut thatch (Cocos nucifera)[459 ]. The strong leaf stalks have many structural uses[297 ]. They are also made into arrows[46 ]. The leaflets and midribs are used for manufacturing of brooms, baskets, mats and sunhats[303 ]. The leaves may contain up to 10% tannin[303 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Windbreak  Regional Crop  Staple Crop: Sugar

A plant of low elevations in the moist tropics. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 23 - 27?c, but can tolerate 20 - 35°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,000 - 2,800mm, but tolerates 1,500 - 3,500mm[418 ]. Grows best in a sunny position[418 ]. Plants are only found in tidal mudflats of the moist tropics in the wild, though they have also been successfully cultivated in swampy ground some distance from the sea[297 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 - 7.5, tolerating 5.5 - 8.5[418 ]. Nipa palm is probably the oldest palm species, with evidence to show that it had a pantropical distribution 13 - 63 million years ago[303 ]. It is considered an advanced palm species, and it has been suggested that it could be related to two genera in the Pandanaceae, Pandanus and Sararanga[303 ]. The first flowering occurs 3 - 4 years after germination[303 ]. The plant can be tapped for its sap by the time of the second flowering[418 ]. Spacing: 36-48 in. (90-120 cm) 4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m) 6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m) 8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m) 10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m).

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Windbreak  Linear plantings of trees and shrubs designed to enhance crop production, protect people and livestock and benefit soil and water conservation.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.
  • Staple Crop: Sugar  Perennial sugar crops include sugarcane and compare favorably to annuals.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

Shop Now

Plant Propagation

Seed - there is little information on germination of this plant. It seems likely that the seed benefits from a period of being immersed in the sea since germinating seeds are often washed up on shore in the areas where it grows[297 ]. The seed needs to be fresh and also needs to be kept in warm and permanently moist conditions if it is to germinate[200 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Nipa Palm, Mangrove Palm, Chak, Gabna, Golphal, Golpatta, Gulga, Jahk, Nipah, Nipamu, Pardeshi-tadio, Pardeshitadio, Poothada,

Native Plant Search

Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

Found In

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

Australia; Bangladesh; Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia; China; Guam; India; Indonesia; Japan; Malaysia; Micronesia, Federated States of; Myanmar; Northern Mariana Islands; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Sri Lanka; Taiwan, Province of China; Thailand; Viet Nam, Africa, Andamans, Asia, Burma, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Indochina, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pacific, Palau, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, SE Asia, Solomon Islands, South America, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, West Africa,

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 : Status: Least Concern

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Distichlis palmeriNipa. Palmer saltgrass, NyPa Wild WheatPerennial0.4 10-12 FLMHSNMWeWa402

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



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.

Readers comment

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Nypa fruticans  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.