Corypha L.
  • Sp. Pl.: 1187 (1753) 

Notes: Distribution: Trop. Asia to N. Australia

General Description

Massive, solitary, armed, hapaxanthic, hermaphroditic, tree palms. Stem erect, closely ringed with leaf scars sometimes in distinct spirals. Leaves induplicate, costapalmate, marcescent in immature individuals, tending to abscise under their own weight in trunked individuals; sheath sometimes with lateral lobes, later sometimes with a conspicuous triangular cleft below the petiole, the margins tending to erode into fibres; petiole massive, long, covered with caducous indumentum, adaxially deeply channelled, abaxially rounded, margins with well-defined teeth; adaxial hastula well developed, abaxial hastula rather irregular; blade regularly divided to ca. 1/2 its radius into single-fold segments, these in turn shallowly divided along the abaxial folds, filaments present at upper folds in young leaves, segments with prominent longitudinal veins, abundant transverse veinlets and caducous floccose indumentum along the folds, indumentum more abundant abaxially. Inflorescences above the leaves, subtended by reduced, scale-like leaves, forming a massive, compound inflorescence-like structure; individual inflorescences emerging from the mouths of the bract-like leaves or through an abaxial split, branched to the third order, all branches ending as rachillae; prophyll of inflorescences 2-keeled, empty; bracts tubular, the proximal 0–several empty, other bracts inconspicuous, triangular, each subtending a first or higher order branch; rachillae bearing spirally arranged, adnate cincinni of up to 10 flowers; floral bracteoles minute. Flowers borne on short stalks formed by the base of the calyx and the receptacle; calyx tubular basally, with 3 low, triangular lobes; petals ± boat-shaped, basally imbricate, the margins usually inrolled, stamens 6, the 3 antesepalous free, the 3 antepetalous adnate basally to the petals, filaments tapering from a fleshy base; anthers short, somewhat sagittate basally, medifixed, latrorse; gynoecium tricarpellate, syncarpous, triovulate, ovary globose, distinctly 3-grooved, style elongate, slightly 3-grooved, stigma scarcely differentiated, ovule hemianatropous. Pollen ellipsoidal, usually slightly asymmetric; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine tectate, reticulate or foveolate-reticulate, aperture margin psilate or scabrate; infratectum columellate; longest axis 28–40 µm [3/8]. Fruit globose, single-seeded with basal stigmatic remains; epicarp smooth, mesocarp fleshy, endocarp thin, usually remaining attached to the seed. Seed globose, with basal hilum, and shallow grooves corresponding to the rapheal bundles, endosperm homogeneous, with or without a central hollow; embryo apical. Germination remote-tubular; eophyll entire, lanceolate. Cytology: 2n = 36.

Diagnostic Description

Spectacular massive solitary hapaxanthic hermaphroditic fan palms of South and Southeast Asia, Malesia to Australia, with huge leaves that have spiny petioles with a distinctive triangular cleft at the base of the petiole, and huge suprafoliar compound inflorescences.


Leaf (Tomlinson 1961), root (Seubert 1997), floral (Uhl and Moore 1971).


Corypha species are frequently associated with human settlements, but in the wild, they are probably a feature of open seral communities, such as alluvial plains, or submaritime storm forest; they are not found in climax tropical rain forest.


Six recognised species, but probably fewer, ranging from southern India and Sri Lanka, to the Bay of Bengal, and from Indochina through Malesia to northern Australia; distribution probably much influenced by man.


Corypha has a wide range of uses and is intensively exploited. Leaves are used for thatch, writing material, umbrellas, buckets, etc. The stem has been used as a source of starch.

Common Names

Gebang (Corypha utan), talipot (C. umbraculifera).

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Asia-Tropical Indian Subcontinent Bangladesh
  • India
  • Sri Lanka
  • Indo-China Andaman Is.
  • Cambodia
  • Laos
  • Myanmar
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Malesia Borneo
  • Jawa
  • Lesser Sunda Is.
  • Malaya
  • Maluku
  • Philippines
  • Sulawesi
  • Sumatera
  • Papuasia New Guinea
  • Australasia Australia Northern Territory
  • Queensland


  • 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.
  • 3 Govaerts, R. (1999). World Checklist of Seed Plants 3(1, 2a & 2b): 1-1532. Continental Publishing, Deurne.

 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
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Global Biodiversity Information Facility
  • C All Rights Reserved
eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from
  • D 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
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