Word of the Week (128): TALIPAT (probability 16202), by David Sutton

The TALIPAT (or TALIPOT) is a very tall southern Indian fan palm with enormous leaves which are used as sunshades etc; the word is Sinhalese in origin. The straw of the talipat palm is called BUNTAL. Another palm with a name of Sinhalese origin is the KITTUL (or KITUL); this is also known as the JAGGERY palm, jaggery being a kind of coarse dark sugar or concentrated sugar syrup much used as a cooking ingredient in India and Sri Lanka.

Let's have a few more palm trees from round the world. The ARECA is a tree of the BETELNUT genus of palms, native to SE Asia and the Indian subcontinent; the name is Malayalam in origin. The nut of the areca is called a PINANG. The NIPA palm grows in the East Indies and has large leaves used for thatching; it is also called the ATAP or ATTAP, all the names being Malay in origin. Malay also gives us GOMUTI (or GOMUTO), a palm yielding a black fibre, and the PANDANUS (plural PANDANUSES or PANDANI), the leaves of which are used to weave mats.

The NIKAU palm grows in New Zealand; this is a Maori name. Australia gives us the BANGALOW, and the HOVEA, a feather palm endemic to Lord Howe Island; one species of howea is also known as the KENTIA palm.

Finally, the LADYPALM is an ornamental fan palm probably native to southern China and Taiwan. It is not now known in the wild; all known plants come from cultivated groups in China.


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