Palmyra palm commonly known as doub palm, tala or tal palm, toddy palm, wine palm or ice apple is native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It is reportedly naturalized in Socotra and parts of China. The palmyra palm is a very tall, single-stemmed evergreen palm tree that can eventually reach a height of 30 metres.
It is cultivated in many tropical areas for its fruit, sap and many other items. It is one of the most important of the cultivated palms.
Palmyra palm is a native of tropical Africa but cultivated and naturalized throughout India. The palmyra palm is a large tree up to 30m high and the trunk may have a circumference of 1.7m at the base. There may be 25-40 fresh leaves. Leaves are leathery, gray green, fan-shaped, 1-3 m wide, folded along the midrib; are divided to the center into 60-80 linear- lanceolate, 0.6-1.2 m long, marginally spiny segments. Their strong, stalks, 1-1.2 m long, are edged with hard spines. In India, it is planted as a windbreak on the plains. It is also used as a natural shelter by birds, bats and wild animals. The flowers are produced in big clusters of long, white string-like inflorences. The coconut-like fruits are three-sided when young, becoming rounded or more or less oval, 12-15 cm wide, and capped at the base with overlapping sepals. When the fruit is very young, this kernel is hollow, soft as jelly, and translucent like ice, and is accompanied by a watery liquid, sweetish and potable. The chief product of the palmyra is the sweet sap (toddy) obtained by tapping the tip of the inflorescence, as is done with the other sugar palms and, to a lesser extent, with the coconut. The toddy ferments naturally within a few hours after sunrise and is locally popular as a beverage. Rubbing the inside of the toddy-collecting receptacle with lime paste prevents fermentation, and thereafter the sap is referred to as sweet toddy, which yields concentrated or crude sugar (gur in India; jaggery in Ceylon); molasses, palm candy, and vinegar. Palmyra palm jaggery (gur) is much more nutritious than crude cane sugar. Traditionally, the Indian 'Nadar' community are the people who make their living from this tree using its wood, fruits, sap, stems, petioles and leaves to process a variety of food products, beverages, furniture, building materials, and handicrafts.
Innumerable traditional medicinal uses are known for all parts of the toddy palm. The young plant is said to relieve biliousness, dysentery and gonorrhea. Young roots are anthelmintic and diuretic. A decoction is given in certain respiratory diseases. Dried roots can also be smoked to heal nasal complaints. The ash of the flower is taken to relieve heartburn and enlarged spleen and liver. The bark decoction, with salt, is used as a mouth wash. A charcoal made of the bark serves as a dentifrice. Sap from the flower stalk is prized as a tonic, diuretic, stimulant, laxative and anti phlegmatic and amoebicide. Sugar made from this sap is said to counteract poisoning and it is prescribed in the treatment of liver disorders. When candied, it is a remedy for coughs and various pulmonary complaints. Fresh toddy, heated to promote fermentation, is bandaged onto all kinds of ulcers. The apical bud, leaf petioles, and dried male flower spikes all have diuretic activity. The pulp of the mature fruit relieves dermatitis. It is also useful as an anti-inflammatory and for dropsy and gastric conditions. Also has potential immuno-suppressive action. Constituents are: gum, fat and albuminoids.