Nypa fruticans

Source: Own work

Nypa fruticans

Nypa fruticans or mangrove palm is the only palm species that grows in mangrove.

It is best grown in a pond but can be grown in pot as long as it can remain constantly under water.

This palm tree needs humid heat, grows quickly and becomes quite large. Therefore, it is not suitable as a houseplant but rather for a large heated greenhouse or outdoors if you are fortunate to live in the tropics.

It is the only species of the genus Nypa.


Nypa fruticans is a solitary palm with a subterranean or lying stem that branches dichotomously, making it look clustering. The stem forms adventitious roots when it is on top of the ground. The stem exhibits widely spaced, lighter colored and knobby leaf scars.

Petioles and rachis are brown to purple brown. Leaves are erect, older leaves more spread. Leaves are up to 6 m long with a petiole of approximately 1/3 of the length. The leaflets are numerous and up to 90 cm long. They stand in a slight angle on the rachis so that the leaf blade has a slight V-shape. They are stiff, but not rigid, pendant at the top, light to dark green. The central rib and underside of the leaflets are covered with brown hairs.

The inflorescence appears between the leaf bases and is erect, 90-150 cm long. The brown female flowers are at the top of the spike in a spherical mass. The male flowers are at the bottom in short yellow catkinlike branches.

The infrutescence appears at the top of the spike, is mahogany-colored and comprises numerous angular fruits that are packed together to form a round mass.

The fruits fall into the water and are spread by currents. Often, they germinate in the water before settling in the mud.

Nypa fruticans inflorescences

Source: Izhamwong

Nypa fruticans inflorescences


The leaves are used as roofing, for weaving of objects or rolling of cigarettes.

The dried petioles contain small air pockets and are used for construction of the cabins, as a fuel for fishing nets and floats.

Unripe fruits are eaten as a delicacy.

The peduncles contain a sugar-rich juice and are used in sugar, alcoholic beverages and vinegar.

Young, not yet unfurled leaves are sometimes eaten raw as a salad.


Common names:

Attap palm, mangrove palm, nipa palm, nipah palm


Cocos nypa, Nipa arborescens, Nipa litoralis


Nypa: latinized version of the common name nipah used in the Philippines and the Moluccas
Fruticans: Latin word for shrubby


Asian and Pacific tropics

Nypa fruticans fruit




USDA zone 10-11



Tolerates a wide variety of soils, including calcareous soils


Partial shade for young plants, full sun for older plants


Must stand permanently flooded. Although this is a mangrove plant, the water should be not salty, it thrives in fresh water or diluted sea water


Fertilize regularly during the growing period


Division in the spring when repotting or seed.

There is little information available on sowing but it seems that the seeds must be fresh and germinates in water before it establishes in soil. Heat and humidity are needed for germination.