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Multipurpose palms: the sugar palm (Arenga pinnata (Wurmb) Merr.)


Arenga pinnata is the most important sugar palm of the humid tropics. Besides yielding sugar, it provides a great number of products and benefits to its users, and is one of the most diverse multipurpose tree species in culture.

The various ways in which this palm is used are illustrated for the native population of four Indonesian provinces. Although all people make use of the palm, the intensity of use, and the products which are used, vary widely among places. The peoples of East Kalimantan where there is a very low population density and a Muslim population, makes relatively little use of the palm. The peoples of North Sumatra, with a mostly Christian population, and of West Java, with a very high population density make intensive use of the sugar palm. The most advanced cropping and cultivation patterns have developed in North Sulawesi, where many old traditions are based on sugar palm cultivation.

The potentials of A. pinnata in cropping systems including agroforestry are presented. Prerequisites for intensified cultivation are discussed.

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Mogea, J., Seibert, B. & Smits, W. Multipurpose palms: the sugar palm (Arenga pinnata (Wurmb) Merr.). Agroforest Syst 13, 111–129 (1991).

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Key words

  • Palms
  • Arenga pinnata
  • MPT Indonesia
  • ethnobotany