10 uses of Caryota mitis as survival plants you should know. Survival situations may happen to everyone. You who loved outdoor activities, such as hiking, trekking, exploring, usually have learned how to face the survival evidence.  Which you probably never expected.  But again, a survival situation can happen to everyone.  It can be caused by getting lost, natural disasters, or some other reasons.

10 uses of Caryota mitis as survival plants

Indonesia has abundant edible plants.  One of them is Caryota mitis.  The most popular local name is Sarai or Suwangkung.  But Actually, there are other local names in some regions.  Caryota mitis is a useful tropical plant.  Almost every part of the plants you can use.  Here are 10 uses of Caryota mitis as a survival plant


The shelter is one of the essential things in survival conditions. Rainforest conditions are very humid. You can protect your body from extreme conditions, such as rain and cold. The shelter will keep your body dry. And psychologically, the shelter will make you feel safe and comfortable. The parts of the Caryota mitis tree are very strong and you can use them as pillars and roof frames. While the leaves are to cover the top of the shelter.


Actually, Caryota mitis is one of my favorite vegetables.  So, if you find them, choose the very younger part of the stem or leaves.  This part has white in color. The best edible part has a crunchy texture and is not fibrous. But, the taste is slightly bitter.  The best way to cook based on my experience is by slicing them and then putting them in the boiling water for approximately 10 minutes. When you dry it out, you can eat directly.  and the taste is not bitter anymore.  Or stir-fry with some spices.    

10 uses of Caryota mitis as a survival plant
Leaves and young stem of Caryota mitis. The young stem is the edible part

Carbo Source

You can harvest the starch from the trunk.  The way to do this, you need an old tree which has a big stem size.  How to produce sago? Destroy the inside of the trunk. Once crushed, mix with water. Then, separate the wood, fiber, and other rubbish by filtering. What remains is a white color solution. Leave them for a while, and sago will settle at the bottom. You can use sago as a Carbohydrate source.

Sugar from Caryota mitis as survival plants

Caryota mitis can produce sap from the young flower parts. This sap will come out when the young flowers are cut at the ends. The sap that comes out, you can collect in a container. It can take all day or night for the sap to collect and harvest. Sugar is made by boiling the sap liquid until it boils and thickens.

Fermented syrup

When the sap is in the container, the fermentation process will start naturally. The fermentation process will immediately occur. Generally, requires a minimum of 12 hours of fermentation, until the sap turns into a sour and alcoholic drink.

Natural Fibre

When you do it by the patient and gently, you can get good long fiber. The fibers can be spun and made into ropes for various purposes. Smaller fine fiber can be used for fishing lines. While the larger size can be used for sewing.

Natural Cordage

Cordage can be made from fiber.  In an emergency, Caryota mitis fiber twist can be used as cordage for various needs. In fact, the rope is strong and lasts a long time to tie the poles and the roof of the shelter.

Natural Tinder

When you are in a humid forest, making a fire is more difficult. All materials are moist. Even if you find dry wood, the moisture in the forest keeps the wood from drying out completely. When you see Caryota mitis, you can choose the part of the leaf sheaths which is hairy. Even though the conditions are humid, there are usually some that are dry and you can use it as tinder to make a fire.


The leaves sheath of Caryota mitis is shaping like an elongated pipe split. In fact, by connecting several stems, you can use them to drain water from a water source to a reservoir near your shelter.  Or you can also use the tree part.  Split the wood into two parts. The center of the wood is soft and easy to scrape. This scraped tree can also be used as a gutter.

Snack from Caryota mitis as survival plants

Caryota mitis seeds are edible. However, the pericarp is containing calcium oxalate.  This chemical can cause a burning sensation when you eat it. Make sure you clean the pericarp from the seed. And then the seeds can be roasted to be used as snacks.


Please be careful. The fruit pericarp contains calcium oxalate. Chemical compounds can cause a burning sensation in the throat. So you have to make sure that the seeds are clean. There is no pericarp anymore. In addition, the fine hairs at the base of the petiole can also cause irritation to sensitive skin.

The Description of Caryota mitis as survival plants

Caryota in Greek means “nut” and mitis means “soft”.  Its meaning probably refers to the sheathing leaf bases.  Its species is a member of the Arecaceae family. One of the Indonesian native species. Easily found in Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, and Sulawesi.  From lowland to the highland rain forest.

The tree grows in clumps and can reach a height of 15 m.  Grows in clusters, with slender stems with conspicuous nodal rings. Prefers direct sunlight. The petiole, leaf midrib, and spathe have uneven villi. This plant has green bi-pinnate leaves with characteristic dentate (fishtail-like) leaflets. Leaf length from stem to tip can reach 2 meters under optimal conditions.

Local names of Caryota mitis as survival plants

Caryota mitis is quite popular in Indonsia.  There are many local names to mention, such as Sarai (Indonesia), Palem Ekor Ikan (common commercial name), Beridin (Aceh), Andudur (Batak), Risi (Palembang), Suwangkung (Sunda), Genduru (Java), Bulang Talang (Central Kalimantan), Panisi (Bugis)

Muryanto Paiman

always love to learn from nature.  Passionate on studying plants in some aspects: the DNA, Identification, propagation, and their uses

1 Comment

John · June 27, 2023 at 12:47 pm

thank you

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