There are a number of synonymous scientific names for salak such as Salacca edulis and Salacca rumphii, but I am glad that the current consensus is Salacca zalacca. I’ve been reciting it to anyone who will listen all day long.
Also known as snakefruit, Salacca zalacca is native to Java and Sumatra. Its popularity as a fruit has led to a number of cultivated selections (at least 30), with cultivation of these palm trees now occurring throughout much of Indonesia as well as Thailand, Queensland (Australia), and other South Pacific locales. The pictured fruits were imported to Vancouver and sold at a small market shop specializing in foods from lands bordering or near to the South China Sea. I waited too long to consume the single fruit I purchased (it had slightly fermented), so I can’t give a firsthand account of the taste. Such is my ignorance when trying something new! As one might expect, the cultivars do have a range of flavours, with most being “sweet and acidic but with a strong astringent edge” (according to Wikipedia). In Smithsonian.com’s article, “Meet the Salak, the Ubiquitous Indonesian Fruit You’ve Never Heard Of“, the taste is described as:
a perfumed cocktail of bright flavors, with hints of pineapple, citrus, honey and possibly even soap
PalmPedia has an exceptional selection of images on its Salacca zalacca page. If you browse the images, another standout feature of this palm tree stands out: the dense blackish spines that cover the petiole of the 7m / 23 ft. long leaf fronds. Not only does the plant provide food, but it is also often grown to be a living fence–protection and provision with one species! Most of the stem of this palm is subterranean (as a stolon).