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Family Aracaceae / Palmae
Licuala spinosa Wurmb.

Ci shan ye zong

Scientific names Common names
Corypha pilearia Lour. Balabat (P. Bis.)
Licuala horrida Blume Balatbat (Bis., Tag.)
Licuala pilearia (Lour.) Blume Likuala (Tag..)
Licuala ramosa Blume Silad (Pal.)
Licuala spinosa Wurmb Ugsang (Sul.)
  Licuala palm (Engl.)
  Mangrove fan palm (Engl.)
  Spiny licuala (Engl.)
Licuala spinosa Wurmb is an accepted name. The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Ci zhou lu, Ci shan ye zong.
INDIA: Jungli selai (Andaman Islands).
KHMER: Pə'ao (Protial).
MALAYSIA: Palma, Palas tikus.
PORTUGUESE: Palmeira-leque-de-espinho (Brazil).

Licuala is a small clustering palm. Stems are stout, roughened with fallen leaf scars, clustered, 2 to 3 meters high, 5 to 10 centimeters in diameter. Leaves are about 1 meter across, glossy and fan-shaped, deeply divided 9- to 13-partite and horizontally spreading, with toothed edges. Spadix is axillary, elongated, with the branches adnate to the rachis up to the orifice of the spathes, ultimately with many fine pubescent, densely flowered spikes. Flowers are sessile, in 2 or 3 rows, small and nearly oval in shape. Corolla is a little longer than the calyx, divided below the middle in three, broad, lanceolate segments. Fruit is obovoid, 5 to 8 millimeters long, pedicelled by the calyx tube, red when mature, and one seeded. Seed is ovoid, with horny albumen, and horseshoe-shaped.

- In seashores, back of mangroves in brackish mud. Grows wild in thickets at low altitudes.
- Cultivated for ornamental purposes.

- Also found in China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

- Study of leaves yielded vitexin and methyl (25S)-proto-dioscin.

Parts used
Bark, stems, leaves.


- Young shoots reportedly edible, raw or cooked. Eaten with Thai shrimp paste and chili sauce. (4)
- In Cambodia, bark used in combination with other plants for treatment of tuberculosis.
- In Malaysia, leaves used for tuberculosis (5), meristem infusion is taken orally as antidote to poisoning. Also used for dehydration. (2)
- In Thailand, used to treat centipede bites.
- In Khmer, root decoction with pdao used for malaria. Pounded young leaves with tiger balm applied to centipede bite. Poultice of bulb applied to wounds. Roots and wood chips used for postpartum care. (8)
- Poison Preparation: In Borneo, the leaf's fireproof durability is of critical utility in preparing blowpipe dart poison –the latex of Antiaris toxicaria tree is held on a folded boat-shaped young leaf of L. spinosa, and held over a small flame for about a week. The use of the young leaf is considered critical to the poison processing.
- Roofing: Leaves used for roofing.
- Food wrapping: Used as wrapping for glutinoid rice desserts.

- Tools: Stems used to make tool handles. (7)
- Clothing: In the Andaman Islands, leaves used for clothing. (7)
- Ritual object: Ritual object, dung-dung, made from leaves of silad (L. spinosa), frayed and tightened together. (9)

Study of leaves yielded vitexin and methyl (25S)-proto-dioscin. (3)

- Wildcrafted.
- Ornamental cultivation.

Updated September 2017 / January 2017

Photos ©Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Blowpipe dart poison in Borneo and the secret of its production / Free Library by Farlex

Medicinal Plants Used By the Jah Hut Orang Asli at Kampung Pos Penderas, Pahang, Malaysia / H.C. Ong, A.W. Faezah and P. Milow* / Ethno Med, 6(1): 11-15 (2012)
Studies on the Constituents of Palmae Plants. VI. Steroid Saponins and Flavonoids of Leaves of Phoenix canariensis hort. ex CHABAUD, P. humilis ROYLE var. hanceana BECC., P. dactylifera L., and Licuala spinosa WURMB. / Asami Akitoshi, Hirai Yasuaki, Shoji Junzo /Chemical & pharmaceutical bulletin 39(8), 2053-2056, 1991-08-25
Licuala spinosa Wurmb / Synonyms / The Plant List
Antituberculosis potential of some ethnobotanically selected Malaysian plants
/ Suriyati Mohamada, Nabihah Mohd Zin, Habibah A. Wahab, Pazilah Ibrahim, Shaida Fariza Sulaiman, Anis Safirah Mohd Zahariluddin, Siti Suraiya Md. Noor / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 133 (2011) 1021–1026
Common Medicinal Plants Species Found at Burned and Unburned Areas of Klias Peat Swamp Forest, Beaufort, Sabah Malaysia / Andy Russel Mojiol / Journal of Sustainable Development, Vol 3, No 1, March 2010
Tropical Palms / FAO Corporate Document Repository
An examination of medicinal ethnobotany and biomedicine use in two villages on the Phnom Kulen plateau / Taylor Walker / Hollins Digital Commons
Palawan Attitudes Towards Illness / Dario Novellino / Philippine Studies: Ateneo de Manila


It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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