Kithul” is a Sri Lankan name to a variety of palm scientifically known as Caryota urens that grows in the Asian tropics. It is a species of indigenous flowering plant in the palm family from Sri Lanka, Myanmar and India. They naturally grow in the wild, in forest covers, in fields, in rain-forest clearings and even in home gardens.
“Kithul” treacle and jaggery are products made from the sugary sweet sap obtained by tapping the young “Kithul” inflorescence according to a traditional methods. This traditional knowledge was a highly guarded and much valued secret, kept within families and handed down from generation to generation with the techniques being unmatched and not practiced in any other country in the region.
“Kithul” treacle, also called “Kithul honey” is similar to maple syrup and made from pure sap for a unique taste and aroma. Since it is an all-natural, chemical-free products with no additives or preservatives, it is a healthy alternative to granular sugar. In Sri Lanka, treacle is a “must-have” accompaniment to curd and a common ingredient in baking.
Caryota urens is a species of flowering plant in the palm family from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and India where they grow in fields and rain-forest clearings.
Caryota urens is species is solitary-trunked to 12 metres (39 ft) in height and trunk 30 centimetres (0.98 ft) wide. Widely-spaced leaf-scar rings cover the gray trunks which culminate in a 6 metres (20 ft) wide, 6 metres (20 ft) tall leaf crown. The bipinnate leaves are triangular in shape, bright to deep green, 3.5 metres (11 ft) long, and held on 60 cm long petioles. The obdeltoid pinnae are 30 cm long with a pointed edge and a jagged edge (hence, jaggery palm).
The 3 metres (9.8 ft)long inflorescences emerge at each leaf node, from top to bottom, producing pendent clusters of white, unisexual flowers. The fruit matures to a round, 1 cm drupe, red in color with one seed. Like all Caryotas, the fruit contains oxalic acid, a skin and membrane irritant. As these plants are monocarpic, the completion of the flower and fruiting process results in the death of the tree.