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Family Aracaceae / Palmae
Balabat
Licuala spinosa Wurmb.
SPINY LICUALA

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 Ugsang (Sul.)
Licuala spinosa Wurmb 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).
MALAYSIA: Palma.
PORTUGUESE: Palmeira-leque-de-espinho (Brazil).

Botany
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.

Distribution
- 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.

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

Parts used
Bark, stems.

Uses
Edibility

- Young shoots reportedly edible, raw or cooked. Eaten with Thai shrimp paste and chili sauce. (4)
Folkloric
- In Cambodia, bark used in combination with other drugs for treatment of tuberculosis.
- In Malaysia. meristem infusion is taken orally as antidote to poisoning. Also used for dehydration.
- In Thailand, used to treat centipede bites.
Others
- 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 glutinoud rice desserts.

Studies
Constituents:
Study isolated vitexin and methyl (25S)-proto-dioscin. (3)

Availability
Wildcrafted.
Ornamental cultivation.

Last Update January 2017

Photos ©Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
(1)
Blowpipe dart poison in Borneo and the secret of its production / Free Library by Farlex

(2)
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)
(3)
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
(4)
Licuala spinosa Wurmb / Synonyms / The Plant List

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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