The Palms
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Metroxylon sagu and M. salomonense(Sago palms) in our own wetlands.
(Photo: L.G.Saw)


Johannesteijsmannia lanceolata, a forest understory palm endemic to Peninsular Malaysia.
Photo: L.G. Saw

Most palms are either solitary (growing as a single stem throughout their life) or branched at the base to produce a clump of stems.  Only very few palms show branching above the base. The spiny typically climbing palms with scaly fruits are called the rattans, a few of which produce the cane that we use to make furniture, weave mats and baskets.
Rattan tangle: a fascinating mess.
(Photo: L.G.Saw)
Palms attract a great many people around the world because of their beauty. Palms are also economically important because many species are sources of sago (starch), an important component in the diet of people in the tropics, while some have edible "palm heart" (the tender growing apex of the palm stem, sometimes called the "cabbage" and referred to as "umbut" in Malay).
Arenga microcarpa is one of the American starch palms akin in use to the Southeast Asian sago found
in the Rimba Ilmu's main palm collection.
      (Photo: Teresa Wong)
A young Arenga westerhoutii or langkap palm indigenous to Peninsular Malaysia, in the Rimba Ilmu. 
Photo: Teresa Wong
Most palms produce their inflorescence laterally and stem growth is not affected, but a few (such as Metroxylon sagu, or the Sago Palm) have stems that die after producing a huge apical inflorescence.

Rimba Ilmu's sago palm grove.
Photo: Alan Ng

Mauritia carana, a species native to the Amazonian South American region.
Photo: L.G. Saw
Dypsis decaryi, the Triangular Palm from Madagascar, in the Rimba Ilmu Building courtyard.
Photo: Agnes Loh