Salak fruit

Salak fruit

Salacca zalacca or salak is a palm tree that produces an edible fruit called salak or snake fruit because of its brown skin covered with scales.

From the genus Salacca, this is the species most commonly cultivated for its fruit.

It is certainly not the most decorative palm tree with its bald lower trunk and fierce thorns trunk but if you find fruit at a local market, you can have fun by sowing the seeds. It is a very fast grower.


The trunk is usually crawling just below the surface, leaving only the terminal part bearing leaves above ground. It produces many suckers and grows in very dense groups.

The pinnate leaves can reach 3-7 m long. The leaf sheaths, petioles and leaflets are covered with numerous long spines.

The leaves can reach 3-7 m long, the leaflets 20-70 cm long and 2-7.5 cm wide.

The plant is dioecious. The inflorescence is composed of several axillary spadices, surrounded by a spathe. The male inflorescence is 50-100 cm long and consists of 4-12 spadices each measuring 7-15 cm long. The female inflorescence is 20-30 cm long and composed of 1-3 spadices of 7-10 cm long.

The fruit is a globose to ellipsoid drupe, formed in clusters of 15-40 per spadix, 5-7 cm long and 5 cm in diameter, tapering towards the base and rounded at the top. The skin is composed of many overlapping scales, yellow to brown, each with a small fragile spine. The flesh is composed of 3 lobes of white pulp and contains 2-3 seeds. The flesh tastes like pineapple.


This palm is grown primarily for its edible fruit.

It is also used as a barrier: densely growing trunks carrying strong spines form an almost impenetrable barrier.


Common names:

Salak, snake fruit, snake skinned fruit


Calamus zalaccan Salacca edulis, Salakka edulis


Salacca, zalacca: common name derived from Javanese salak (snake)

Salacca zalacca plant

Salacca zalacca plant


The exact origin is unknown, but grows wild in Java and Sumatra


Plains, swampy rainforest between 0-500 m


USDA zone 10-11



Permanently moist soil, slightly acidic


Sun, partial shade
Keep plantules in partial shade, older plants tolerate direct sunlight


Keep the soil moist at all times


Fertilizer for palm trees, twice a month, nothing in the winter


Use gloves when handling because of the many thorns

Salacca zalacca thorns

Salacca zalacca thorns


Seed, division, layering

Sowing instructions:

  • seeds must be very fresh as they lose viability very quickly
  • sow in moist sphagnum or potting soil mixed with sand, cover in plastic bag
  • 30 °C
  • germination time: 4-5 days


  • separate suckers from the parent plant by cutting the underground rooted trunk