Arenga pinnata

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Arenga (ah-REHN-gah)
pinnata (pihn-NAH-tah)
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Gerardo Herrero's Farm, 2008 Costa Rica. 2008 IPS Biennial. Photo by Ryan D. Gallivan.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Arenga (ah-REHN-gah)
pinnata (pihn-NAH-tah)
Arenga saccharifera
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Height: Up to 60 feet (18 m)
Sun exposure: Full sun, to light shade
Watering: Regular water
Survivability index
Common names
Kaong, Solitary Sugar Palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Arenga pinnata is found in Assam, Benin, China South-Central, China
Kampong Botanic Garden, in Coconut Grove (south of Miami), former estate of David Fairchild. Photo by Leu Gardens Botanist Eric S.
Southeast, Hainan, India, Malaya, Myanmar, Philippines, and Thailand. Its exact origin is unknown, but it may be from the region of Minahassa in North Lulawesi, Indonesia, because there is abundant growth of this palm plant in this area.

It is adapted to elevations between sea level and 1,400 meters. It grows wild in primary or secondary forests, especially on sites poor in nutrients and in denuded hillsides.

It is found naturally growing in the Phillippines, oftenly along river banks from low to middle elevations. It is estimated that there are about 4.67 million kaong palms in its dipteroarp forests (Neri, undated). Its fruits are scattered by wild hogs, fruit bats and civet cat.


Height: 58 ft. tall, Leaf: Pinnate, 20 to 25 leaves per crown, very dark green top, silvery bottom, erect, up to 12 meters long. Trunk: Covered with black fibers and spines., 15 to 20 inches in diameter (40 to 50 cm). Flower: Showy yellow flowers. As most of the Caryotas and Arengas, after the tree finishes blooming, it dies, (monocarpic), Flower stalk coming from among the leaves, much longer than the leaves. Fruit: purple. 1.5 inches in diameter (4 cm). round to oval, containing generally 3 seeds, takes over one year to ripen. Kaong is a monoecious solitary palm. The trunk is up to 15-20 m with a diameter of about 30-40 cm. Leaves are pinnate, up to 8.5 m long. Leaf sheaths with fibrous black hairs cover the stem. Axillary inflorescences arise singly first from the top and continue downward until the palm dies. Fruits turn yellow at maturity, having a diameter of about 5 cm. Fruit: Colour Red, each fruit has 2-3 seeds. This palm first flowers when around 10-12 years old; however, sometimes it flowers as early as 5-6 years. Maturity is indicated by simultaneous appearance of 2 short leaves at the top of the stem. The average flowering period of an untapped tree is 4-6 years; on the other hand, Florido and De Mesa (2003) presented a report that flowering starts at 12 to 16 years depending on the elevation. Editing by edric.

In General Santos City which has a dry climate and low elevation, a kaong palm that was grown from a wildling in 1998 started flowering in 6-7 years. The topmost inflorescence emerged at a height of about 3.5 meters from the ground. In 2007 (9 years after planting), the inflorescences from about one meter high downward were tapped for sap. Last flowering was in 2009, 11 years from planting.


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Min. Temperature: 28°F (-2°C), Germination: Easy germination in 2 to 6 weeks when fresh.Low salt tolerance, Moderate drought tolerance, Widely adaptable to many soil types, Growth in Zones 10B through 13, Moderate feeding requirement, Growth Rate: Moderate, Human Hazards: Irritant: Oxylate crystals. Kaong is a promising cash crop with potential for the establishment of plantations or, at the least, for deliberate growing to supplement the natural stands.

Comments and Curiosities

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos, edric.

Special thanks to, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos, edric.

Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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