From the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia, inc.
by Michael McDonnell, Farm Advisory Manager


Seasons in Australia are opposite to those in the US, as summer is during the months of December, January and February. Autumn is March, April, May; winter is June, July, August; Spring is September, October and November.

Salak Palm

Scientific name: Salacca zalacca, S. edulis
Family: Arecaceae


The fruit is grown throughout Asia and is a stemless spiky palm producing bunches of delicious fruit at the base. Each bunch contains approximately 10 fruit, 5-7cm in diameter and individual fruits resemble tanned crocodile leather in appearance. The tough leathery skin protects the fruit from bruising. It travels well and has a good shelf life. The flesh consists of several creamy-white sections, about the consistency of macadamia nut, crunchy to bite, with a sweet-sour pineapple-banana flavour. The flesh recovery is approximately 80%.

Each palm produces 150 fruit approximately annually and there are about 10 fruits to the kilogram. In Asia, salak fruit is highly valued and should have great export potential.

Salak fruit has a high market acceptability, unique in appearance with an exquisite, exotic flavour and could very easily become a new primary industry for Far North Queensland. It has very restricted growing conditions and will not tolerate frosts. Salaks have no known pests or diseases in Australia and therefore can be grown without spraying and they have the same retail value as mangosteen, approximately $16 per kg.

They require a free-draining soil, with a high organic content. They need an annual rainfall of 2000mm+ and 90mm in the driest month.

A commercial salak plantation should be a minimum of 1000 palms of 1 hectare, each planted 2.5 metres apart in rows 4 metres wide or wide enough for a small tractor. For the first 3 years, they require shade either by way of shade cloth or shade trees, i.e. bananas, paw-paws or tree grapes etc. By winter of the third year, the palms should be flowering.

 Regular dressings of N.P.K. is recommended, also generous amounts of mulch. In a well-maintained orchard, the rows between the salaks should provide all the mulch needed. Soil pH as close to 7 as possible.

Salaks offer an exciting future for small and large scale farmers with a sense of adventure.

Salak fruit clump drawing

Salak Palm Fact Sheet


Tree Description
A small stemless spiky palm with fronds 4 metres in length.

Fruit Description
Bunches of fruit are produced at the base of the palms. Each fruit approximately 5-7cm in diameter with a tanned crocodile leather appearance. The tough skin prevents the fruit from bruising. It travels well and has a good shelf life. The flesh consists of several creamy-white sections resembling macadamia nut, crunchy to bite with a sweet-sour pineapple-banana flavour. Flesh recovery approximately 80%. Each palm produces 10 to 30 bunches per year, up to 20 fruits per bunch.

Fruiting Age
3 to 4 years

Frost Tolerance:NIL

pH: 6-7

Sun Exposure
At least 30% shade for the first 3 years by way of shade cloth or shade trees i. e. under existing fruit trees.

Drainage
Well-drained soil with permanent moisture.

Fertilizer
Generous amounts of N.P.K. four times a year. Calmas twice a year plus a trace metal supplement annually and mulching.

Field Planting
1000 palms per hectare, 2.5 metres apart in 4 metre rows.

Propagation
There are many different species of salak in Asia, most of which are either male or female. Seed must be obtained from bi-sexual palms i.e. Gondok.

Market
Mainly fresh fruit market. In Asia they are pickled.

Pests and Diseases - to date no known in Australia.

Soil Preference - Tolerates a wide range of soils.

Commercial Potential
In Asia salaks are valued the same as mangosteen, and apart from a domestic market, a great export potential exists. An over-supply of this fruit is unlikely as the palms are difficult to grow. Formidable thorns discourage most potential growers and only true exotic fruit-growing fanatics with a sense of adventure will succeed with this fascinating and delicious fruit.



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Bibliography

McDonnell, Michael. "Salak Palm." rfcarchives.org.au. Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia. July. 1990. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

Published 20 Nov. 2015 LR
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