An Eco-sustainable World
ShrubbySpecies Plant

Salacca affinis

Salacca affinis

The red salak or red snakefruit salak, red snakefruit (Salacca affinis Griff., 1845) is a cespitose shrubby species belonging to the family of

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Division Magnoliophyta,
Class Liliopsida,
Order Arecales,
Arecaceae family,
Subfamily Calamoideae,
Calameae Tribe,
Salaccinae subribe,
Salacca genus,
Species S. affinis.
The terms are synonymous:
– Salacca affinis var. borneensis (Becc.) Furtado;
– Salacca borneensis Becc.;
– Salacca dubia Becc..

Etymology –
The term Salacca comes from the common name “salak, zalak” used in Malaysia to indicate this type of palm.
The specific epithet affinis comes from the Latin “ad finis”, on the border, due to the similarity with the congeneric species Salacca zalacca.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Salacca affinis is a plant native to Singapore, present in Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, Java and Sumatra.
Its habitat is that of the undergrowth of rainforests, especially near swamps and ponds.

Description –
Salacca affinis is a dioecious, acaule and caespitose plant, which forms large thorny tufts. The stems are usually underground or trailing, but can measure up to 1–2 meters tall. The petioles measure up to 1 meter in length and are covered with thorns; from yellow-orange to brown, measuring up to 10 centimeters in length and occurring in groups of 2-4.
The leaves are light green, pinnate and measure up to 60 centimeters long and 6 centimeters wide. They have a lanceolate and falling shape. The rachis is covered with irregularly arranged spines, similar to petioles. The uppermost leaves have toothed, almost torn tips.
The inflorescences are axillary and are subtended by leafy bracts. The male inflorescences measure 50–100 centimeters in length, are branched and have elongated, flattened thorns bearing male flowers on cylindrical spike-shaped rachillae.
Each individual flower measures 4–6 centimeters in length.
The female inflorescences are shorter than the male ones, measuring up to 5 centimeters in length, and are branched with female flowers borne on spike-shaped rachillae. The female flowers measure up to 3 centimeters in length.
The fruit has a rather oval shape, measuring 8 centimeters long and 4 centimeters wide and is tapered at both ends. They are red when ripe and have smooth scales.
Each fruit normally contains up to 3 pale yellow to white seeds and forms in the center of the plant, making them difficult to reach due to the abundance of thorns. It is edible and is said to have a sour although slightly sweet flavour.

Cultivation –
Salacca affinis is a palm that is rarely cultivated outside its areas of origin. The long and powerful thorns discourage cultivation in parks, gardens and passage areas, and it is therefore difficult to find them outside botanical gardens. Cultivation for edible purposes in the places of origin is also limited due to the lower quality of its fruits compared to those of Salacca zalacca.
It can only be grown in hot tropical and subtropical areas, where the temperature does not drop below 20 °C, except occasionally and for very short periods. Cultivation experiences are reported in the literature in which specimens of this species survived exposure to temperatures close to 5 °C, however causing serious and extensive damage to the vegetation.
For its cultivation it prefers positions in partial shade and with high levels of humidity, sheltered from the winds, in areas with rainfall exceeding 1500 mm per year. It needs a high availability of water and grows well in soils rich in organic substance and well drained, slightly acidic or at most neutral.
The plant reproduces easily and quickly by seed, which has a limited germination time, usually 15 days, on a warm, humid bed at temperatures above 21 °C.
It can also be multiplied by dividing the tufts, but less easily than by sowing.

Customs and Traditions –
Salacca affinis is a palm known by various names, including: red salak, red snakefruit salak (English); buah ridan salak, linsum (Indonesian); salak hutan (Malay); other names are: buah manau, kelubi, buah rotan and ridan.
This species is used almost exclusively in areas where it grows spontaneously.
Its fruits are mainly consumed fresh. Its flavor is a mix of sweet and tangy, and its crunchy texture makes it a popular choice for snacks or desserts.
The juice extracted from S. affinis can be used to produce juices and drinks. These drinks can be consumed alone or mixed with other juices to create interesting mixes.
In some cultures, the plant has been used for traditional medicinal purposes. It is said to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The oil extracted from the seeds of the plant can be used for skin care.
Finally, some parts of the plant, such as the leaves, can be used as animal fodder in some agricultural communities.
This palm is assigned the risk status “not evaluated” by the International Union on Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In 2011 this species was rediscovered in Singapore, where it was considered extinct, in the “Nee Soon Swamp Forest”.

Preparation Method –
Salacca affinis has fruits characterized by a leathery and thorny peel which must be removed before consuming the fruit.
Once peeled, you can eat the pulp directly from the fruit. The pulp is juicy and has a sweet and slightly acidic flavour; however, care must be taken to remove the seeds present in the pulp, as they can be large and hard.
The fruits can be used to enrich tropical fruit salads or desserts or to prepare preserves, jams or sauces.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

Photo source:

Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and food uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; we therefore decline any responsibility for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *