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Talipot

feet, leaves and tree

TALIPOT, a palm (Corypha umbraculifera) of Ceylon and India, remarkable for possessing the largest inflorescence of any plant. The straight, cylindrical trunk takes over 50 years to attain its full height; during 30 of those years the leaves spring from near the ground, but afterward the palm grows rapidly until it is 70 feet tall. It then sends up from the centre of the crown a gigantic, pyramidal flower panicle, with a main rachis over 30 feet long, and a dozen branches reaching so far out that the base of the panicle also is about 30 feet across. These branches terminate in many branchlets and twigs, and are covered with possibly 100,000 greenish-yellow, dicecious blos soms, which have so powerful and disagreeable an odor that the tree is often cut down at this stage. As soon as the tree begins to bloom the leaves fade, and by the time the flowering period (about a month) has ended, they have often all fallen off, leaving the bare, ringed trunk crowned only by the inflorescence. After

a year's time the fruits, which are inedible, are matured and fall in great quantities, and the whole tree dies down, having lived to produce only this single exhausting crop.

The leaves also are gigantic, one alone being capable of sheltering 10 persons comfortably. They have prickly stalks six or seven feet long and are more or less circular, with radiating ribs of the texture and strength of rattan, and plaited, narrow segments which are joined to gether nearly to the tips, and can be folded like a fan. They can be easily marked with a metal point and are used as writing material to some extent by the natives and Buddhists. They are of coriaceous texture when dry, and are valuable for thatching houses, for umbrel las, fans and basketry, and are carried before Singhalese of rank. In times of famine the trunks are felled, for the sake of their pith, which produces a kind of sago.