Native to the island of Borneo, with habitats located in both Malaysia and Indonesia, the Salacca vermicularis is a very rare species of palm that contains spikes along its petioles (stalks). These stalks have likely co-evolved millions of years ago alongside prehistoric predators.
Salacca is a genus of about 20 species of palms native to Southeast Asia and the eastern Himalayas.
The latin name vermicularis comes from the plant’s worm-like rachillae (the short stem of a spikelet that bears the florets). When the florets are gone, the remaining spikelet looks a lot like a worm.
The fruit of Salacca grow in clusters at the base of the plants, and are edible in many species, with a reddish-brown scaly skin covering a white pulp and one to two large inedible seeds.
There is one Salacca vermicularis in the Merwin Palm Collection and its spikelet is currently flowering.
Want to “virtually explore” the Merwin Palm Collection? Search through our archive of Palm Facts of the Week, featuring palms hand-planted by W.S Merwin. To search through the list of Merwin Palms, visit our online database.
It has been said that the Merwin Palm Collection is a “living treasure house of palm DNA”. If you’re inspired to help The Merwin Conservancy preserve and care for the Merwin Palm Collection into the future, please consider making a tax-deductible donation.