Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Corypha utan Lam.

Palm, pandan or cycad
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Fallen flowers [not vouchered]. © J.L. Dowe
Mature fruit [not vouchered]. © J.L. Dowe
Leaf. © CSIRO
Fruiting plant, cultivated, Centenary Lakes, Cairns [not vouchered]. © J.L. Dowe
Leaf bases with basal cleft [not vouchered]. © J.L. Dowe
Spines on petiole margin [not vouchered]. © J.L. Dowe
Leaf and inflorescence. © CSIRO
Leaf base and petiole sections. © CSIRO

Lamarck, (1786) Encyclopedie methodique ii: 131.

Common name

Kennedy Palm; Gebang Palm


Single stem 12-20 m tall, 60-100 cm DBH; grey and covered in persistent leaf bases in the upper part in a typical spiral pattern.


No crownshaft. Leaves palmate, pleated, 4-6 m long, lamina 2.36-3.0 m wide and divided into 80-100 very deep segments, 160 x 8 cm, greyish green to blueish green tapering to a short, forked, pointed apex, each lobe with a single midrib; ligule 1.5-2 cm above apex of the petiole; petiole 2-4 m long, channelled above with black margins and armed for the entire length with 0.3-2 cm long straight, stout spines.


Inflorescence a terminal panicle 2-5 m tall with up to 1 million yellowish to white bisexual flowers with an unpleasant odour. Flowers 3-8 mm diameter with 3 sepals and 3 petals in clusters of 5-10 in regular spirals along the 15-40 cm long branchlets of the inflorescence. Plants flower only after 30-60 years and then die (monocarpic).


Olive green to brownish, globu;lar, 15-30 mm diameter. Takes ca. 18 months to ripen. Seed spherical and 12-20 mm diameter.


Features not available.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in the NT, CYP and NEQ as far south as Delta Downs. Altitudinal range from 15-90 m. Grows on the banks of rivers, along creeks and gulleys in Monsoon Forest, open Eucalypt forest, open woodland and in grass-covered floodplains. Also from India, Malesia, Melanesia and New Guinea.

Natural History & Notes

The sugary sap, obtained by tappings from the palm top and inflorescences, is made into wine, sugar, alcohol, or vinegar. The adult leaves are used for roof thatching, manufacturing of mats and umbrellas, especially the midribs of the leaves for furniture making and constructions of interior house walls. The fibres or cutted strips, obtained from the young unfolded leaves are used in the manufacture of nets, bags, mats, sails, baskets, string, ropes, hats, cloth, and fancy articles. The terminal bud is eaten as a vegetable (palm cabbage). The young cooked fruits are consumed as sweetmeats. The hard seeds are made into rosaries, necklaces and buttons. In times of scarcity starch is extracted from the stem (Johnson et al. 1991).

Corypha elata Roxb., Flora Indica 2: 176(1832), Type: This stately palm is a native of Bengal, where it flowers in March & April.
RFK Code
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