Caryota urens – the wine palm
Caryota urens, the wine palm, is a species of flowering plant in the palm family with a solitary-trunked tree. The plant is best known in Vietnam for producing juice that can be fermented into wine naturally.
- Family: Arecaceae
- Genus: Caryota
- Species: Caryota urens
- English name: wine palm
- Vietnamese name: Móc rượu, Đủng đỉnh núi, and Tr’đin (local name)
In Vietnam, Caryota urens is cultivated in Tây Giang district of Quảng Nam province (bordering Laos) by the Cơ Tu ethnic people. They called the plant as “Tr’din“, and the natural wine from the cut near the top of the tree is called “Tr’din wine”. Tr’din wine can be harvested from the wine palms when they reach 6-7 years old, and can be harvested for over 30 years.
In order to harvest the wine, they cut a hole into the trunk of the tree, and use a “natural yeast” which is the bark of a local plant identified as Dipterocarpus retusus (hollong, Local name: apăng). Often they peel the barks of these two plants, dry them and dip them in a wine-harvesting tube or plastic can. The self-fermented solution is bitter, acrid, aromatic and sweet, which makes the wine unique and highly-prized.
Beside the Caryota urens, there are other trees of the genus Arenga, which are also exploited by the Cơ Tu people to harvest wine: Arenga pinnata and a rattan species.
Heart of Palm
Like other palms, Caryota urens is also a source to harvest the heart of palm. The Tr’din heart of palm can be used in many ways: roasted, fried, stir-fried, made into salad, or braised with delicious wild gamey meat, shrimp and fish.