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Family Arecaceae
Pugahan
Caryota mitis Lour.
FISHTAIL PALM

Jiu ye zi

Scientific names Common names
Caryota furfuracea Blume ex Mart Bato (Tag.)
Caryota griffithii Becc. Pugahan (Tag.)
Caryota mitis Lour. Clustering fishtal palm (Engl.)
Caryota nana Linden Many-stemmed fishtail palm (Engl.)
Caryota propinqua Blume ex Mart. Tufted fishtail palm (Engl.)
Caryota sabolifera Wall. ex. Mart. Jiu ye zi (Chin.)
Caryota speciosa Linden  
Drymophloeus zippellii Hassk.  
Thuessinkia zippellii Korth.  
Caryota mitis Lour. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
ARABIC: Nakhlat câryôtâ.
CHINESE: Duan sui yu wei kui, Cong li kong que ye zi (Taiwan), Tuan sui yi wei k'uei, Chiu yeh tzu.
FRENCH: Caryote doux.
GERMAN: Fischschwanzpalme.
INDONESIA: Sarai.
ITALIAN: Palma cariota.
KOREAN: K'ae ri oh t'a ya cha.
MALAY: Dudar, Nudok, Dudok, Leseh, Leuteu. Mudor (Sarawak).
MYANMAR: Minbow.
SPANISH: Palma cola de pescado (El Salvador).
THAILAND: Taou-rung-dang.
VIETNAMESE: Dung dinh.

Botany
Pugahan is a palm, differing from other Caryota species in having many suckers and producing clusters of small-sized palms, up to 7 meters tall. Stems are solitary or clustered, slender to massive, with conspicuous nodal rings. Petioles, leaf-sheaths and spathes are scurfily villous. Leaves are 1.2 to 3 meters long; leaflets are obliquely cuneiform, erose and toothed; the upper margin acute. Spadix is scurfy, axillary and pendulous. Male buds are cylindric; male flowers are small, about 5 millimeters long. Fruit is 10 to 13 millimeters in diameter, bluish-black when ripe, containing a single globose seed.

Distribution
- In forests, near streams, at low altitudes in Palawan.
- Cultivated for ornamental pot plants in the Philippines.
- Also occurs in Burma and Indo-China to the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, and Borneo.

Constituents
- Fruits, leaves and stems contain various alkaloids.
- Pulp of fruit contains calcium oxalate crystals.
- Phytochemical screening of seed oil yielded phytosterols, triterpenes, alkaloids, flavonoids, and saponins.(10)
- Proximate analysis of seed oil yielded moisture content 42%, crude fiber 34.30, carbohydate 11.92%, crude fat 5.30%, crude protein 4.64% and ash content 1.84% on dry matter basis. Mineral content yielded iron (3.10 ± 0.02 mg/kg) manganese (0.11 ±0.01 mg/kg), sodium (154.15 ±1.98 mg/kg) and potassium (127.04 ± 1.21 mg/kg). (10)


Parts utilized
Roots, leaves.

Caution !
• Pericarp contains stinging crystals (raphides, needle-shaped crystals of calcium oxalate). The seeds inside the poisonous fruit are edible after cooking.
• Crystalline needles from the juice of the ripe fruit can cause intense itching within seconds.
• Fibrous hairs of the leaf stalk can cause skin irritation.
• Handling of the berries may cause burning and swelling of the lips, buccal cavity and throat. May cause redness and swelling of the eyes and skin irritation. Effects are not long lasting.


Uses
Edibility
- Kernels of the fruit and terminal bud are edible but only after processing.
- Seeds inside the poisonous fruit are edible, as is the cabbage, after cooking.
- Stems yield a little starch which the people of Malacca and Borneo use as sago.
Folkloric
- No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- In Kelantan, juice of the fruit, mixed with bamboo hairs and extract of toad is considered a potent poison.
- In Cambodia, soft fibers at the base of the leaf-sheath use for the cauterization of wounds.

- In Thailand, for itches, the fruits are boiled in water and the water used for a bath.
- Negrito tribes of Andaman Islands use the young shoots for vomiting and stomachache.
- In Bangladesh, Roots and fruits used for hemorrhoids, loss of virility, rheumatoid arthritis, and as laxative.
Others
- Toddy: Inflorescence can yield sap which can be consumed fresh (nira) or fermented into toddy, then distilled into an arrack.
- Sugar: Sap can be refined to produce a sugar (jiggery).

Studies
Raphides:
Raphides in the mature fruit of the fishtail palm Caryota mitis were shown to be calcium oxalate monohydrate. On contact with intact human skin, an aqueous suspension of the raphides caused an immediate severe itch sensation, probably a mechanic action of the calcium oxalate needles rather than by penetrating toxin or enzyme action of the raphides. (1)
Antioxidant / Fruits: Among 56 tested wild fruits, Caryota mitis was one of eight that showed the highest total phenolic contents and highest antioxidant activities, and suggested a potential for development of natural antioxidants and functional foods or drugs.
(4)
Prolifin-Loaded PLGA Nanoparticles / Immunotherapy / Allergic Asthma: A mouse model of allergenic asthma established for specific immunotherapy using rCmP-loaded PLGA nanoparticles as adjuvant was evaluated by measuring hyperresponsiveness and levels of serum-specific antibodies. Results showed the PLGA nanoparticles functions more appropriately as specific immunotherapy adjuvant for allergen vaccines than conventional Al(OH)3 due to superior efficacy, longer potency and markedly fewer side effects. (9)


Availability
Ornamental cultivation.

© Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Last Update February 2017
Updated October 2015

Content / Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
(1)
Examination of the itch response from the raphides of the fishtail palm Caryota mitis / Diane Snyder et al / Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology • / Volume 48, Issue 2, April 1979, Pages 287-292 / doi:10.1016/0041-008X(79)90035-8

(2)
Sorting Caryota names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 - 2000 The University of Melbourne.
(3)
Caryota mitis / Vernacular names and uses / GLOBinMED
(4)
Antioxidant Capacities and Total Phenolic Contents of 56 Wild Fruits from South China
/ Li Fu, Bo-Tao Xu , Xiang-Rong Xu , Xin-Sheng Qin, Ren-You Gan and Hua-Bin Li * / Molecules 2010, 15, 8602-8617; doi:10.3390/molecules15128602
(5)
Plants folk medicine of Negrito tribes of Bay Islands / M U Sharief / Indian Journ of Traditional Knowledge, Vol 6(3). July 2007, pp 468-476.
(6)
Herbs from Peat Swamp Forests in Narathivas, Thailand / Tasanee Kitirattrakarn and Choojit Anantachoke / Proc. WOCMAP III, Vol.6: Traditional Medicine & Nutraceuticals / Acta Hort. 680, ISHS 2005
(7)
A Survey of Medicinal Plant Usage by Folk Medicinal Practitioners in Two Villages by the Rupsha River in Bagerhat District, Bangladesh / Mohammed Rahmatullah et al / American-Eurasian Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 4(3): 349-356, 2010
(8)
Caryota mitis Lour. / Synonyms / The Plant List
(9)
Effects of Caryota mitis profilin-loaded PLGA nanoparticles in a murine model of allergic asthma.
/ Xiao X, Zeng X, Zhang X, Ma L, Liu X, Yu H, Mei L, Liu Z / Int J Nanomedicine. 2013;8:4553-62. / doi: 10.2147/IJN.S51633
(10)
Preliminary Studies on the Seed Oil of Caryota mitis: Proximate Composition, Phytochemical Screening and Evaluation of Antimicrobial Activity / Olayinka O. Ajani, Taiwo F. Owoeye, Grace I. Olasehinde, Oluwatosin Y. Audu, Fisayo E. Owolabi, Deborah K. Akinlabu and Abiola Edobor-Osoh /American Journal of Food Technology, 11: 253-263., 2016 / DOI: 10.3923/ajft.2016.253.263
(11)
Antioxidant Capacities and Total Phenolic Contents of 56 Wild Fruits from South China / Li Fu, Bo-Tao Xu, Xiang-Rong Xu, Xin-Sheng Qin, Ren-You Gan and Hua-Bin Li * / Molecules 2010, 15, 8602-8617; doi:10.3390/molecules15128602

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