Nypa fruticans

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Nipa palms along a tidal riverat Maitum, Sarangani, Philippines
Nipa palms along a tidal river
at Maitum, Sarangani, Philippines
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Arecales
Family: Arecaceae
Genus: Nypa
Species: N. fruticans
Binomial name
Nypa fruticans

Nypa fruticans , known as the Attap Palm (Singapore), Nipa Palm (Philippines), and Mangrove Palm or Nipah palm (Malaysia), Dừa Nước (Vietnam), is the only palm considered a mangrove. This species, the only one in the genus Nypa, grows in southern Asia and northern Australia. Fossil mangrove palm pollen has been dated to 70 million years ago. Fossil nuts of Nypa occur in Branksome sandbeds of Tertiary, Eocene age near Bournemouth, and in the London Clay at Isle of Sheppey, Kent, testifying to much warmer climatic conditions in Britain at that time.

The trunk or stem of the Nipa palm is under the mud. Only the leaves project upwards

The Nipa palm has a horizontal trunk that grows beneath the ground and only the leaves and flower stalk grow upwards above the surface. Thus, it cannot be considered a tree, although the leaves can extend up to 9 m (30 ft) in height. The flowers are a globular inflorescence of female flowers at the tip with catkin-like red or yellow male flowers on the lower branches. The flower yields a woody seed, these arranged in a cluster compressed into a ball up to 25 cm (10 in) across on a single stalk. The ripe seeds separate from the ball and are floated away on the tide, occasionally germinating while still water-borne.

Nipa palms grow in soft mud and slow moving tidal and river waters that bring in nutrients. The palm can be found as far inland as the tide can deposit the floating seeds. It is common on coasts and rivers flowing into the Indian and Pacific Oceans, from Bangladesh to the Pacific Islands. The plant will survive occasional short term drying of its environment. Nypa fruticans is an endangered species in Singapore.


The long, feathery leaves of the Nipa palm are used by local populations as roof material for thatched houses or dwellings. The leaves are also used in many types of basketry and thatching.

A globular flower cluster on a Nipa palm

The inflorescence can be tapped before it blooms to yield a sweet, edible sap collected to produce a local alcoholic beverage called Tuba. Tuba is also stored in Tapayan (balloon vases) for several weeks to make vinegar in the Philippines, commonly knowned as Sukang Paombong (pure vinegar made from the province of Paombong, Bulacan). Young shoots are also edible and the flower petals can be infused to make an aromatic tisane. Attap chee ("chee" meaning "seed" in several Chinese dialects) is a name for the immature fruits -- sweet, translucent, gelatinous balls used as a dessert ingredient in Malaysia and Singapore. On the islands of Roti and Savu, Nipah sap is fed to pigs during the dry season. This is said to impart a sweet flavour to the meat. The young leaves are used to wrap tobacco for smoking.

Nipah has a very high sugar-rich sap yield. Fermented into ethanol, the palm's large amount of sap may allow for the production of 15,000 to 20,000 liters of the biofuel per hectare (compare with sugarcane at 5000-8000 liters, or corn, at 2000 liters).

Original Source

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