Description from Flora of China
Stems small to very large, solitary or clustered, columnar or swollen, usually ringed with conspicuous leaf scars. Leaves 4-20, spread out along stem, or borne in a compact crown at top of stem; leaf sheaths closed, not forming crownshafts; petioles short or elongate and then rounded in cross section, covered with whitish or brownish hairs, sometimes striped; leaves bipinnate, each primary pinna made up of several secondary pinnae borne on a secondary rachis terminated by a pinna; individual secondary pinnae triangular, with jagged outer margins, often spreading in different planes. Plants monoecious, semelparous, flowering proceeding from top of stem downward (basipetal). Inflorescences usually branched to 1 order, rarely spicate, borne either among or below leaves, covered with many persistent bracts; peduncle bearing a prophyll and several peduncular bracts; rachillae usually many, long and pendulous; flowers unisexual, borne in threes of 1 central female and 2 lateral male; male petals either yellow or purplish; stamens 6-150. Fruits orange, red, or purple, medium sized, usually ± globose, 1- or 2-seeded; mesocarp filled with irritant needle-shaped crystals; endosperm ruminate (homogeneous in one species); germination remote; eophylls bifid [pinnate in one species] with jagged margins.
Records of Caryota no Beccari ex J. Dransfield from China are based on misidentifications.
Thirteen species: from India through SE Asia to the W Pacific; four species in China.