salak, what is that?

Terry Kaan lawterry at
Wed Nov 22 21:51:39 EST 1995

Dominique Schaller (dschalle at wrote:
>I am searching information (latin name, classification, cultivation
>method, where to find seed etc) about a indonesian fruit : salak.
>Any hint will be wellcome. Thanks.
>Dominique Schaller
>Department of Biochemistry
>University of Geneva
>30 quai Ernest Ansermet
>CH-1211 Geneva 4

Various species of palms of the genus _Salacca_ in the subfamily
Lepidocaryoideae.  Grows in very low, dense, prickly clumps, with huge
leaves up to 6m long.  Centre of distribution of the dozen or so species
in Southeast Asia.  The fruit "buah salak" ["buah" means "fruit" in the
Malay and Indonesian languages] that one comes across in rural markets
throughout Malaysia and Indonesia is generally from _Salacca edulis_,
which is often cultivated.  The fruit is brown, very roughly elongated
pear-shaped, about 4 - 7cm long, covered all over with a remarkable coat
of brown shiny scales that give them a rather reptilian aspect!  As with
many tropical fruits, it finds no taste equivalent in temperate fruits. 
The scaly skin is easily peeled off, revealing a firm shiny pulp which
looks like and has the consistency of garlic.  Good ones are sweet, with a
perky dash of astringency and tannin (a bit like cooking apples).  Bad
ones leave you with the impression that your mouth has just been turned
into leather ... 

See T.C. Whitmore, "Palms of Malaya" (1977:  Oxford University Press) 
ISBN 0 19 580368 X.

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