Backgrounder: Sugar palm trees

By Beth Pollak

  • The sugar palm (Borassus flabellifer) is the national tree of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
  • The roots and male flowers are used as a traditional cure for malaria and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • It is very energy-expensive to produce palm sugar – 4 kg (8.8 lb) of firewood are required to produce 1 kg (2.2 lb) of palm syrup.
  • Farmers can make more profit feeding palm juice to pigs than converting it to palm sugar.
  • The leaves are used for thatching on houses, among other uses. They were formerly used as a writing surface by monks.

Sources: Royal Decree on Designation of Animals and Plants as National Symbols of the Kingdom of Cambodia (3/21/05); Sugar palm (Borassus flabellifer): potential feed resource for livestock in small-scale farming systems (Khieu Borin, 1998).

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