The Khmer common name is “Thnoat”. The scientific name is “Borassus flabellifer” and English common name is “sugar palm“. Sugar palm is a type of plant classified as palm tree with a single stem, large stump, and cylindrical trunk with height of 10-25m. Their roots have lateral characteristics and no main root. The trunk is rough and dark in color with diameter of 20- 60cm and varies according to the quality of soils. The bunch of leaves is a fan form and clustered on the top of the tree. Midrib of palm tree is thick and smooth; has yellow-green color when it is young; yellow-brown color when it is older; and has thorns along both edges in the form of chainsaw teeth. Male and female flowers of sugar palms are differentiated morphologically. Male flower of sugar palm has long and rounding form with size of 2-4 cm and length of 30-50 cm, whereas female flower has a form of rounding fruit with the length of 50-70 cm which yield fruits from 20 to 50. Sugar palm fruit is round and dark-brown color on the bottom part and green color onthe top; and changes the color to dark-yellow when it ripens. The diameter of the palm fruit is 13-20 cm which varies according to the quality of the soil, the exploitation for sugar palm juice, and the age of the trunk. Sugar palm is a popular plant representing Khmer society, it provides many advantages to Khmer nation since the early build of the Kingdom; and it is an identity that Khmer people recognize as a view of their territory since the ancient time until present with an expression that “sugar palm tree is a shelter of Khmer house”. In 2003, His Majesty, the King of the Kingdom of Cambodia requested the Royal Government of Cambodia to examine and take actions to control and prevent destruction of natural resources such as forest and sugar palm trees; and later on the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries issued advice circulation letter no. 481 dated on September 5, 2003 to take prevention measures of transport and exploitation of sugar palm trees. In Khmer society, sugar palm tree has many advantages which include roots and male flowers of sugar palm used for traditional medicine to cur malaria, sexual diseases, anesthesia of hand and leg. Palm tree can be used for construction of houses, shelter for animals, boats, or construction materials. Currently, palm tree has been used as valuable crafting production in the market. Leaves for roof and wall of the houses, braiding mats, hats, boxes or trunks; and sometime can be used for inscribing or writing in replacement of Carypha umbraculifera too. Palm tree fruit and juice has delicious taste and it is popular within Khmer society. The production of sugar from palm tree juice is a tradition of Khmer People since ancient time until present.
Source: Appendix 5 of the Royal Degree No. NS/RKT/0305/149 dated March 21, 2005 on the Designation of Animals and Plants as National Symbols of the Kingdom of Cambodia