Gomuti


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Gomuti

 

(Arenga pinnata, or A. saccharifera), also gomuti palm, a plant of the family Palmae. The trunk is 7–12 m tall and 40–50 cm in diameter; the pinnate leaves are 5–9 m long. The gomuti is monoecious; the pistillate and staminate flowers are in different inflorescences that attain lengths of 2–3 m. Flowering occurs in the tenth to 12th season; the first inflorescences appear in the axils of the upper leaves. The oval fruits are 6–7 cm long and have a leathery yellowish brown casing and sweet edible flesh. After the fruits ripen, the trunk dies back.

The gomuti grows in the tropical rain forests of Southeast Asia, on the Malay Peninsula, and in the Malay Archipelago, the Moluccas, and the Philippines. It is cultivated throughout tropical Asia for its juice, which is obtained by tapping inflorescences having anther-bearing flowers. One inflorescence may yield as much as 5–7 l of juice per day for 2½ months; the juice contains 16–20 percent sugar, which is obtained by evaporation. One hundred trees planted on 1 hectare yield 4–10 tons of sugar.

Unproductive palms are cut down to obtain sago from the starchy pith of their trunks. The wood and leafstalks are used in construction. The tough fiber of the leaf sheaths, which does not rot in water, is used for fishing tackle and to protect underwater cables and piles. The leaf fiber is used for weaving mats, baskets, and other items. S. S. MORSHCHIKHINA

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