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Did you know that is the talipot palm in its flowering stage and that tree was located near the Plant Quarantine Unit at the Union Agricultural Station?
The talipot palm is botanically called Corypha umbraculifera and is a species of palm native to eastern and southern India and Sri Lanka.
It is also reportedly naturalized in Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand and the Andaman Islands
It is one of the largest palms in the world; individual specimens have reached heights of up to 25 m (82 ft) with stems up to 1.3 m (4.25 ft) in diameter.
It is a fan palm, with large, palmate leaves up to 5 m (16 ft) in diameter, with a petiole up to 4 m (13 ft), and up to 130 leaflets. The talipot palm bears the largest inflorescence of any plant, 6-8 m (20-26 ft) long, consisting of one to several million small flowers borne on a branched stalk that forms at the top of the trunk.
The talipot palm is monocarpic, flowering only once, when it is 30 to 80 years old. It takes about a year for the fruit to mature, producing thousands of round, yellow-green fruit 3-4 cm (1.2-1.6 in) in diameter, each containing a single seed. The plant dies after fruiting.
Interestingly, a group of us admired that majestic palm, and monitored it for a period of 12 years. When it finally blossomed and bore fruit that was an extremely amazing sight but then it was just so sad to see that tree die slowly.
One of its’ huge leaves can shelter 10 people from rain.
Historically, the leaves were written upon in various Southeast Asian cultures using an iron stylus to create palm leaf manuscripts. In the Philippines, it is known as buri or buli.
The leaves are also used for thatching and the sap is tapped to make palm wine. In Malabar Coast, the palm leaves were used to make traditional umbrellas for agricultural workers and students in rural areas until a few decades ago.
The tree is known as kudapana in Malayalam Language, which means “umbrella” palm tree. In Southern India and Sri Lank the palm leaf has been used for traditional fortune telling.
This feature runs every Tuesday and Thursday. It is compiled by daughter of the soil Anselma Aimable, a former agricultural officer and former correspondent for Caribbean Net News, who has a deep interest in local culture and history. Send ideas and tips to [email protected]