From the Archives
of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia, inc.
by William F. Whitman
The Salak Palm
name: Salacca zalacca, S. edulis
The salak is indigenous to the Asiatic tropics where it is
extensively grown for local consumption. The fruit of this small,
spiny, pinnate-leaved palm is held in high esteem and is considered one
of the finest of all palm fruits for eating out of hand. The rich
yellow-white meat is slightly crisp with a delicate, delicious blend of
acidity and sugars.
The salak is usually dioecious, so that both
male and female plants are required for fruiting. An exception to this
occurs on the Island of Bali where the palm is monoecious, making it
possible for each plant to bear.
The young palms are set out
1½ meters apart and require about 30 to 50% shade. Fruiting can
commence in three to five years from seed, with each palm bearing 6 to
10 bunches of fruit annually.
On Bali there are two bearing
seasons. The main one, with the largest and best fruit, occurs in
February, followed hy a smaller crop in August. Fruit brought 37S rp.
per kilo (41¢ U.S. per pound) during August in the local markets
of Denpasar. One can consume only about four to five of these filling
two-inch-diameter fruit at a time. The scaly, chocolate-brown skin is
thin, tough and crisp but can be easily removed. The pulp normally
contains a single hard, brown seed which is viable for ten days after
removal from the fruit. For the market, fruit is picked to last a week,
but once dead ripe, commences to spoil after the fourth day.
most delicious of all salak are found on Bali where the different
strains are identified by odor. The 'Gondak' variety has a sweet smell
like the Bali gondak flower. 'Nangka' is a slightly smaller fruit with
a darker skin but the same taste as 'Gondak' ('Nangka' is the Balinese
word for jakfruit). 'Lipan' is a scarce, hard-to-find, poor variety
that makes a small fruit with red lines on the flesh ('Lipan' means
centipede in Bali). The salak palm can reach 12 feet or more in height
although fruiting occurs on much shorter plants. The older palms sprawl
along the ground and appear to live on indefinitely by generating new
trunks as their trailing ends disintegrate with age. Young salak sucker
profusely, but this ceases as the plant matures. When these suckers are
removed from the parent plant and potted up, they frequently die.
Southern Florida, the salak appears to grow well on calcareous
limestone soils and withstands winter cold in the warmer locations.
Plants have been grown in Dade County for a long time but have not
fruited, probably because they were dioecious. The fruit contains
sugars, vitamin C and potassium. In the Asiatic tropics, 200,000 fruit
or more per acre can be produced annually by a good grove.
Back to the Salak Page