|Salak, Snakeskin Palm- Salacca zalacca|
to Edible Palms
Ripe fruit, cut open to reveal the flesh
Frond with spines
Cultivated plant in Hawai‘i Tropical Botanical Garden, Big Island
Plant growing in native habitat
This is some salak (snake fruit) growing on the tree in Bali
Salak Pondoh cultivar
Salak, Salak (snakefruit)
'Bali' fruit at market in Dubai
Salak fruit for sale at Dubai market
Fruits for sale in the market
Women selling salak and krupuk at the market
Salacca zalacca (Gaertn.) Voss
Snake Palm, Snakeskin, Yingan, Sala, Lizard-skinned salak, Roftan-zalak
Calamus zalacca Gaertn.; S. edulis Reinw.; Salakka edulis Reinw. ex Blume
Malesia: Indonesia - Java, Sumatra
Edible fruit; impregnable hedge and the very spiny leaves are also cut to construct fences 4
Grows to 10 ft (3m)
Small cluster palm
Prickly, stemless clumping palm
Evergreen; pinnate fronds; 13-23 ft (4-7 m) long; leaf sheaths, petioles and leaflets armed with numerous long, thin, grey to blackish spines
Dioecious; requires male and female plants are required for fruiting
Rich yellow-white mea is slightly crisp, delicate delicious blend of acidity and sugars 8
In principle, this palm flowers and fruits continuously throughout the years but still has peak periods during the year
At least 30% shade for the first 3 years by way of shade cloth or shade trees i. e. under existing fruit trees 7
Appears to grow well on calcareous limestone soils 8
Prefers moist conditions; because of its superficial root system it requires a high water table during most of the year
Very cold sensitive; has to be kept above 50°F (10°)
8 ft (2.5 m)
Roots not extending to great depth
Invasive potential *
The Salak Palm from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
Salak Suwaru from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
PalmSalakFactSheet from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
Salak Palm by W. Whitman from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
It is native of Indonesia. The plant is commonly cultivated for its edible fruit in tropical Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia where it is very highly esteemed and is often found in local markets. 2
The palm has a very short trunk with pinnate fronds that grows in the rain forest as an understory tree.
A relatively small, very spiny, creeping and tillering, almost stemless palm reaching 1-5 m in height, growing in compact clumps caused by successive branching at the base. 1
Salak palm occurs at elevations between sea level and 500 m in the humid tropics throughout the Malay Archipelago. 1
Beware, it is a spiny palm though, when you see this palm, you will know why it is commonly used as a living fence in Asia.
This fruit is grown in many countries of the South East Asia. The best salak fruits are, however, from Bali.
Fruits exceptionally firm and crisp for a tropical fruit, globose, reddish brown, 1-4 x 2-3 in. (2.5-10 x 5-8 cm.). 1
It is quite sweet when fully ripe, but the unripe fruit is sour and astringent due to the presence of a little tannic acid.
Considered to be one of the finest of palm fruits for eating raw. In Indonesia the fruits are also candied ('manisan salak'), pickled ('asinan salak') and fresh unripe ones may be used in 'rujak', a spicy salad of unripe fruit. 4
Produces large clusters of spherical fruit covered with overlapping brown scales. Borne in compact clusters among the branches at the base of the palm, the fruit are difficult to harvest.
The fruits grow in clusters at the base of the palm, and are also known as snake fruit due to the reddish-brown scaly skin. They are about the size and shape of a ripe fig, with a distinct tip. The pulp is edible. The fruit can be peeled by pinching the tip, which should cause the skin to slough off so it can be pulled away. The fruit inside consists of three lobes with the two larger ones, or even all three, containing a large inedible seed. The lobes resemble, and have the consistency of, large peeled garlic cloves. The taste is usually sweet and acidic, with a strong astringent edge, but its apple-like texture can vary from very dry and crumbly (salak pondoh from Yogyakarta) to moist and crunchy (salak Bali). 5
The most delicious of all salak are found on Bali where the different strains are identified by odor. The 'Gondak' variety has a sweet smell like the bali gondak flower. 'Nangka' is a slightly smaller fruit with a darker skin but the same taste as 'Gondak' ('Nangka' is the Balines word for jakfruit.). 'Lipan' is a scarce, hard-to-find poor variety that makes a small fruit with red lines on the flesh ('Lipan' means centipede in Bali). 8
The palm starts flowering three to four years after sowing. It can be productive for 50 years or more. The scarce data available suggest that annual yields vary from 5 - 15 t/ha. 4
Usually dioecious, some have been found to be monoecious. Pollination is most probably by insects. The fruits mature in 5-7 months after pollination.
There is at least one monoecious variety.'Bali' produces inflorescences with both hermaphrodite and staminate flowers; the latter produce functional pollen. 4
The seeds are sown directly in the field (2-5 seeds together in 2 in. [5 cm] deep holes) or in nursery beds. The seedlings are planted out in the field during the rainy season when they are a few months old.
Germination becomes visible when the cylindrical embryo-containing plug is extruded through the germpore at the kernel's apex. A radicle soon emerges from the tip of the plug and the shoot, a main root and several secondary roots emerge from the sides of this plug. About 60-90 days after sowing the first complete leaf, bifid and some 8-12 in. (20-30 cm) long, is fully expanded, the seedling still being firmly attached to the kernel. 4
The salak appears to have a short, weak, root system and falls over easily in windy conditions. The trunk has a habit of growing along the ground continually regenerating as the trailing end disintegrates.
Seedling salak palms 'sucker' a lot for the first few years and all, except one, should be removed. Most suckers die when potted up.The salak appears to have a short, weak, root system and falls over easily in windy conditions. The trunk has a habit of growing along the ground continually regenerating as the trailing end disintegrates.
Seedling salak palms 'sucker' a lot for the first few years and all, except one, should be removed. Most suckers die when potted up. 9
This is a tropical palm that can be container grown, it will produce fruit if grown in large tubs.
The ripe fruit is mostly eaten fresh. It can be candied or canned and unripe fruits are used as pickles. 1
The seed kernels of the young fruits of the Javanese 'Pondoh' form are edible. 4
A closely-planted row of palms forms an impregnable hedge and the very spiny leaves are also cut to construct fences. The leaflets for thatching. The bark of the petioles may be used for matting. 4
Named for the volcano, Mount Salak in West Java, Indonesia
"The salak palm in Florida has not produced as anticipated. Fairchild Tropical Garden, with dioecious palms, had them fruiting after 37 years. The writer grew six Bali type salak palms that were finally removed after 25 years without a fruit. Plans are underway to try agin, using a shade cloth cover instead of a tree-shaded location." 3
William F. Whitman, Five Decades with Tropical Fruit, 2001
List of Growers and Vendors
1 "Salacca zalacca." ecocrop.fao.org. Ecocrop - Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.
2 "Salacca zalacca." tropical.theferns.info. Useful Tropical Plants. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.
3 Whitman, William F. "The Salak Palm." Five Decades with Tropical Fruit. p. 189. Quisqualis Books, Englewood, Florida. 2001. Print.
4 worldagroforestry.org. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.
5 "Salak." wikipedia.org. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.
6 Mogea, Johanis P. 1982. Salacca zalacca var. amboinensis. Principes 26: 71. wikipedia.org. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.
7 McDonnell, Michael. "Salak Palm." rfcarchives.org.au. Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia. July. 1990. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
8 Whitman, William F. "The Salak Palm." rfcarchives.org.au. Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia. Mar. 1980. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
9 Marshall, John. "The Salak Palm." rfcarchives.org.au. Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia. July 1984. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
Fig. 1 istolethetv. Ripe fruit, cut open to reveal the flesh. N.d. tropical.theferns.info. Under (CC BY 2.0). Web. 18 Nov. 2016.
Fig. 2 Culbert, Dick. Inflorescence. N.d. tropical.theferns.info. Under (CC BY 2.0). Web. 18 Nov. 2016.
Fig. 3,4,8 Kwan. Salacca zalacca, Salak, Snake Palm. 2008. natureloveyou.sg. Web. 16 May 2014.
Fig. 5 Abroad, Joel. Cultivated plant in Hawai‘i Tropical Botanical Garden, Big Island. N.d. tropical.theferns.info. Under (CC BY 2.0). Web. 18 Nov. 2016.
Fig. 6 Cliff. Plant growing in native habitat. N.d. tropical.theferns.info. Under (CC BY 2.0). Web. 18 Nov. 2016.
Fig. 7 Xnau. This is some salak (snake fruit) growing on the tree in Bali. 2009. wikimedia.org. Under(CC BY 3.0). Web. 19 Nov. 2015.
Fig. 9 Fruit. N.d. ars-grin.gov. USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN). [Online Database] National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.
Fig. 10 Crisco 1492. Salak pondoh cultivar. 2015. wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY-SA 4.0). Web. 18 Nov. 2016.
Fig. 11 Swaymedia-Jayson. Salak, Salk (snakefruit). 2005. wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY 2.0) Web. 18 Nov. 2016.
Fig. 12 Jaitt, Oscar. Salak, 'Bali'. N.d. fruitlovers.com. Web. 16 May 2014.
Fig. 13,14 Jackson, Karen. "Salak 'Bali'." 2013. growables.org. JPG file.
Fig. 15 Culbert, Dick. Fruits for sale in the market. N.d. tropical.theferns.info. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.
Fig. 16 Midori. Bahasa Indonesia: Penjual salak Pondoh, Jalan Malioboro. 2011. wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY 3.0). Web. 18 Nov. 2015.
Fig. 17 Lawson, Dhr. B. (Boy). Women selling salak and krupuk at the market. 1971. Tropenmuseum, part of the National Museum of World Cultures. wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY 3.0). Web. 18 Nov. 2015.
* UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas
Published 16 May 2014 LR. Updated 2 Dec. 2015, 3 Feb. 2016 LR