The things you encounter when looking for information on certain topics boggles the mind. I set out to correct the lack of information on this delicious fruit in the database, so - not unlike most noders and nodettes, I imagine - I started out by doing some searches on the word 'salak'. Google came up with eight results, at which point I started to worry a bit. Hhmm, so information is probably a bit scarce on the subject...
Next stop was of course an advanced search on AltaVista. So I did a search on 'salak OR snakefruit' and checked the "One result per Web site"-box. That's better:
On the other hand, most of the results are usually rubbish when confronted with such a discrepancy between Google and AltaVista. Oh well, guess I'm going to have to dig through some dirt...
One result kind of startled me and so I would like to share it with you before getting down to business. On the third results page thrown up by AltaVista, I encountered the following entry:
    28. Salak
      PLACESNAMED.COM Geographic Encyclopedia. Goto page for: New! Type name & press {Enter} Home Page Up to Index About Us Contact Us...
      Translate  More pages from this site  Related pages 
So in my innocence I open the page in a new browser window and get the following result:


  1. Salak is the 45,616th most popular last name (surname) in the United States; frequency is 0.000%; percentile is 85.182 [SourceCBN]
  2. Salak, South Carolina, United States [Place] is in Greenwood County; location is 34°9'29"N 82°12'26"W [SourceGSP]

Okay... This was not what I was after, exactly, but still, it does kind of tie in with the node title, right?

Salak (snakefruit) - botanical

So, down to business. The plant that bears the salak fruit is the Salacca edulis of the family Arecaceae1, more commonly known as the salak palm. This plant is a subterranean branching palm, which means that the plant can be propagated by separating and transplanting individual branches. Further information on the plant is hard to get, and the plant I have growing in my living room has not yet matured enough to be able to describe the plant from that specimen. At the moment it consists of only one leaflet which is about 25 centimeters long, shaped like a V. The edge of the leaf is rather sharp and sports some small spikes (not really the same as thorns), as does the single stem that the leaf is attached to. Not a very friendly little plant, now is it?

The fruit

The salak is called snakefruit in English for a good reason. The skin of the fruit looks exactly like the skin of a snake and is made up of reddish-brown scales. Whether the texture of the scales is the same as that of the skin of snakes I can't tell, never having touched a snake2.
The fruit grows in clusters at the base of the plant.
The shape of the fruit is somewhat round, with a small tip at the top end. The tip is the place to start peeling the fruit. Just pinch the tip between thumb and finger and pull it off. That should get you a start for peeling off the rest.
The fruit itself is a creamy yellow color and has a sweet, acidic taste. The texture is somewhat dependant on the quality of the batch you laid your hands on. It can range from crumbly to crisp and crunchy and from very dry (as in "give me something to drink quick before I can't open my mouth anymore") to somewhat moist. I prefer the crunchy, moist types myself.

This is one of those fruits you have to taste if you ever get the chance, just like manga (or mango as you English people prefer to call them), durian (a must!), mangistan and rambutan.

Sources: - Err... - what little information on the salak I could find - information on tropical palms
Gotta love the html symbol reference

1 Going out on a limb here, the site at gives a somewhat different (or not? suggestions?) classification:
2 Well, consciously anyway. The snake that slid over my toes when I was a little boy freaked me out so completely that I can't recall having had any feeling in my body left during and after that at all for a couple of hours.

April 12, 2001

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