Nenga H.Wendl. & Drude
  • Linnaea 39: 182 (1875) 

Notes: Distribution: S. Indo-China to W. Malesia

General Description

Moderate, solitary or clustered, acaulescent or erect, unarmed, pleonanthic, monoecious palms. Stem slender, short, rarely exceeding 5 m in height with short or elongate internodes and conspicuous leaf scars, stilt roots frequent. Leaves pinnate; sheaths usually forming a well-defined crownshaft with leaves neatly abscising, or leaves marcescent and crownshaft poorly developed (Nenga gajah); petiole usually well developed, flattened or grooved adaxially, rounded or angled abaxially; leaflets with 1–several folds, linear to sigmoid, acute or acuminate, the terminal pair obscurely lobed, lobes corresponding to the folds, the adaxial ribs often bearing ramenta on the under surface, transverse veinlets obscure. Inflorescence infrafoliar or interfoliar (N. gajah), erect or pendulous, branching to 1 order, rarely to 2 orders or unbranched, protandrous; peduncle short in species with infrafoliar inflorescences, long where inflorescences interfoliar (N. gajah); prophyll thin, membranous, enclosing the inflorescence in bud, splitting and falling at anthesis or thick, almost woody, persistent, eventually rotting; peduncular bracts incomplete, small, triangular; rachillae bearing spirally arranged minute bracts subtending triads proximally, solitary or paired staminate flowers distally, or triads confined to central rachilla and lateral rachillae with staminate flowers only, flowers not or only slightly sunken in the rachillae; floral bracteoles minute. Staminate flowers fleshy, sessile; sepals 3, connate at the very base, shorter than, almost as long as, or far exceeding the corolla; corolla with slightly stalk-like base or not, with 3 long, valvate lobes; stamens 6, borne at the base of the corolla lobes, filaments short, anthers oblong to linear, latrorse; pistillode absent. Pollen grains ellipsoidal to spheroidal, bi-symmetric; aperture a distal sulcus, short or same length as long axis; ectexine semi-tectate, coarsely reticulate, muri of reticulum may be spinulose, aperture margin similar; infratectum columellate; longest axis ranging from 37–72 µm [4/5]. Pistillate flowers sessile, globular; sepals 3, distinct, imbricate; petals 3, distinct, imbricate; staminodes absent or minute; gynoecium globose or columnar, uniloculate, uniovulate, style lacking, stigmas 3, massive, fleshy, divergent, ovule laterally attached, form unknown. Fruiting rachillae usually not differing greatly in colour from flowering ones. Fruit ovoid to obpyriform, dull to brightly coloured, stigmatic remains apical; epicarp smooth, dull or shiny, mesocarp thin, fleshy, sweet, endocarp composed of longitudinal fibres adhering to the seed, becoming free at both ends (N. pumila) or at one end only, the fibres enclosing a solid parenchymatous mass of varying size distal to the seed. Seed with longitudinal hilum and raphe branches anastomosing, endosperm deeply ruminate; embryo basal. Germination adjacent-ligular; eophyll bifid. Cytology not studied.

Diagnostic Description

Acaulescent or erect palms of forest undergrowth in West Malesia, Thailand and Vietnam, almost always with crownshafts, with entire or lobed leaflet tips and a single large bract in the inflorescence, the pistillate flowers borne in the basal part of the rachilla and with lateral hilum on the seed.


Root (Seubert 1998a, 1998b) and fruit (Essig and Young 1979).


All species are confined to primary tropical rain forest and are found from sea level to altitudes of about 1400 m. Nenga pumila var. pachystachya sometimes occurs in peat swamp forest.


Five species ranging from Vietnam and Burma to Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula, Borneo and Java.


Stems are sometimes used split, as laths.

Common Names

Pinang palms.

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Asia-Tropical Indo-China Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Malesia Borneo
  • Jawa
  • Malaya
  • Sumatera


  • 1 J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008
  • 2 Govaerts, R. & Dransfield, J. (2005). World Checklist of Palms: 1-223. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

 Information From

Palmweb - Palms of the World Online
Palmweb 2011. Palmweb: Palms of the World Online. Published on the internet Accessed on 21/04/2013
  • A Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
  • B
eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from
  • C Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
WCSP 2014. 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; Retrieved 2011 onwards
  • D See You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement.