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Kithul Tree

Kithul Tree AKA Caryota Urens

According to Wikipedia, Caryota urens is a species of flowering plant in the palm family from the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia where they grow in fields and rain forest clearings.  The term Urens is Latin for "stinging", referring to the chemicals present in the fruit. This plant is also commonly called solitary fishtail palm, toddy palm, wine palm, and jaggery  palm. Its leaf is used as fishing rod, after trimming the branches and drying it up.

Kithul are solitary trees that measure up to 12m (39ft) in height and up to 30cm (12in) wide. Widely spaced leaf-scar rings cover its gray trunk, which culminate in a 6m (20ft) wide, 6m tall leaf crown.

The bipinnate leaves are triangular in shape, bright to deep green in color, 3.5m (11ft) long, and held on 60cm (24in) long petioles. The obdeltoid pinnae are 30cm long with a pointed edge and a jagged edge. The 3m (9.8ft) long inflorescence emerge at each leaf node, from top to bottom, producing pendent clusters of white, unisexual flowers. The fruit matures to a round, 1cm (0.39in)drupe, red in color with one seed.

The fruit contains oxalic acid, a skin, and membrane irritant. As these plants are monocarpic, the completion of the flower and fruiting process results in the death of the tree.

Uses 

This species is called Kithul in Sri Lanka. It is the source of Kithul treacle, a liquid jaggery toddy extracted from the inflorescence, which is considered somewhat powerful compared to toddy extracted from other palm trees. Pulp of the fully grown up plant is cut, sun dried, powdered, and processed for consumption. It is sweet in taste.

This powder is considered cool and nutritious in coastal districts of Karnataka, India. Even elephants are fed both the leaf and the pulp of this plant.

Purpose

Caryota urens is cultivated as an ornamental tree, and planted in gardens and parks in tropical and sub-tropical climates.It is also used as an interior and house plant when smaller.

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