Salacca affinis

Salacca affinis, also known as red salak, red salak, red salak, ridan fruit, ridan fruit, linsum, forest salak, manau fruit, kelubi, rattan fruit, and ridan, is a flowering shrub in the Arecaceae family. The particular epithet (affinis) comes from the Latin “ad fin”, meaning “at the limit”, and refers to its resemblance to the congener species Salacca zalacca. Salak affinis is different from other salak, because the fruit skin is reddish in color with fine thorns. When it is still young, the color of the skin of the fruit is brown, the same as other salak. The skin of the fruit will turn red when the fruit is 4-5 months old. The fruit will ripen at the age of five months from pollination.

Salak affinis fruit is triangular in shape with a pointed tip. Fruit diameter 3.7 – 4.5 cm, contains 1 – 3 wedges, fruit pitch diameter 2.8 – 3.1 cm. Brownish white flesh, with a soft and watery texture. In one year, salak affinis fruit can be harvested 2-3 times with a production of 2-4 bunches per tree, weighing 2.8-3.5 kg/dompol. The amount of fruit in one lump is quite a lot consisting of 30-100 grains.

The taste of salak affinis varies between sweet and sour. The skin of the sweet affinis salak fruit is bright red when fully ripe. Sweetness level 20° – 23° brix , with a slightly sour taste. Young fruit skin is brown. The level of sweetness of the fruit flesh is 15° – 17° brix, with a sour taste that is still quite strong.

Mating between male flowers and female flowers on two different zalacca plants (two houses) is called cross-breeding. Naturally cross-breeding can occur with the help of wind or insects, with unsatisfactory results. Humans then perform artificial mating by shaking the ripe male flower bunches against the ripe female flower bunches.

The goal is to produce more and bigger salak fruit. “Pollination of salak affinis must use male and female flowers of salak affinis, not other salak” according to Sarnan, a TBM employee who has pollinated salak for 18 years. In carrying out her daily activities she has tried to pollinate the female flowers of salak affinis with the male flowers of salak pondoh, the result is that the number of fruits in each bunch is only 5-15.

Family: Arecaceae
Scientific name: Salacca affinis
Common name: Red snake fruit
Origin: Indonesia and Malaysia

The bright red fruits have shiny scales and thus resemble snakeskin. They contain edible flesh that tastes sweet, but is at the same time slightly acidic and aromatic. The taste is sweeter than the better-known common snake fruit (Salacca zalacca), which makes this species more popular, but also harder to find due to its rarity. It is a palm from the humid rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia where it is mainly found in swampy areas. The leaves can grow up to 3 metres high and are covered on the stem with sharp, up to 10 cm long spines. The inflorescence forms close to the ground and can grow up to 1 metre long. Eventually, after pollination, up to 50 fruits can be formed, measuring about 8 cm.

The plant can be kept as a houseplant and already at a young age the decorative spines are formed. Provide a well-drained soil with organic matter and water the plant regularly. If humidity is low, you can spray the leaves with water and, in addition, it is important to provide a light location without direct sunlight.

Sowing description: The already germinated seed can be sown directly in well-drained soil with organic material. Keep soil constantly moist and set well warm (22-28grC) for initial development.

Sowing time: Year-round
Difficulty: Intermediate
Minimum temperature: 12 degrees Celsius

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)
Plant Growth Form Palm (Cluster Palm)


Native Distribution Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, to Sumatra, and Borneo
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Critically Endangered (CR))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a clustering, understorey palm, up to 3 m tall. The stems are short and stout, and occasionally appear stemless. Its numerous large, pinnate leaves are arranged in a dense rosette.
Foliage Its spirally arranged, stalked, spreading leaves are 3–4 m long, pinnate with oblong leaflets in clusters, and evenly spaced in a single plane on each side of the rachis. The leaflets are about 30–40 cm long, green, oblong, with curving sides, and a pointed tip. The back of the rachis is covered with long spines.
Flowers Its inflorescences are erect, with male flower spikes about 2.5–6.4 cm, borne solitarily or in groups of 2–3, are thinly wooly, and subtended by a 10–18 cm long spathe (modified leaf). The female inflorescences are branched, 5–8 cm long, bearing small, scattered, alternate short spikes with about 3 flowers each.
Fruits Its reddish-brown fruits are scaly, smooth and round, tapering at the tip and base, and about 2.5 cm in diameter.
Etymology Malay salak, the vernacular name for Salacca zalacca, a commonly consumed palm fruit; Latin affinis, related or similar to, probably referring to the plant’s similarity to Salacca zalacca.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Fruits)

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It may be suitable for parks but the spiny leaves must be noted, so where it is planted must take this danger into account.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Form
Landscape Uses Parks & Gardens

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade
Water Preference Lots of Water


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Shape(s) Palm Fronds

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) – Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Brown, Red

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