POPULATION STRUCTURE, DISPERSION PATTERN AND SEEDLING GROWTH OF GEWANG PALM (Corypha utan Lam.) IN TIMOR ISLAND, INDONESIA
Food insecurity has been reported to be the top most concern in East Nusa Tenggara (Timor Island) compared to that in other provinces in Indonesia. The use of local species as food sources is one possible arm in the fight against food insecurity. Gewang (Corypha utan Lam.) is a palm species which produces starch similar to the true sago palm (Metroxylon sagu). Although it is important to promote the species as a starch crop, information on its current population and seedling growth performance is still lacking. Hence, a one-hectare plot was surveyed and an experimental plot was established for population and regeneration analyses. In the 1 ha plot there were 31 productive trees, 2 post productive trees, 63 immature trees and 2,211 seedlings. The dispersion of the species followed the clumped pattern for immature trees and seedlings, but shifted to random pattern at maturity or productive stage. The seedling survival was stable when weeded, but dropped to 50% when un-weeded. However, in spite of its stem extraction for starch consumption, the population of C. utan in East Nusa Tenggara was stable. This indicated that C. utan in East Nusa Tenggara is a potential alternative food source to help build food security in Indonesia especially in dry lands like Timor Island and its adjacent regions.
Corypha utan, East Nusa Tenggara, food, local, starch
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