When I think about palm trees, I imagine a a tropical beach with warm breezes blowing through the trees’ spiked fronds. The rustling sound the wind makes as it blows through the branches is so relaxing. It’s such an inviting scene that makes me long for those warm, ocean breezes; especially this time of year when it seems like Winter will never end!
Keep that scene in your mind while we go through some unusual, lesser-known palm tree facts!
Palm trees have an ancient history
Palm tree history can be traced back over 5000 years to Mesopotamian times. It was used as a food source, for constructing tools and dwellings and shade from the hot desert sun. It’s even thought that the date palm is responsible for the growth of the human population! Romans used palm branches as a symbol of victory, while it represents peace and plenty in Judaism and Christianity.
One type of palm tree can grow up to 197 feet high!
Columbia’s national tree, the Quindio Wax Palm, is the tallest of the species. It’s native to the tropical forests of Northern Peru and the Andes of Columbia. Of main importance is its use as a habitat for many animal species, including the endangered yellow-eared parrot.
Palm trees have either palmate or pinnate leaves
Pinnate leaves are feathery fronds that grow along each side of a stem, while palmate leave grow out, like fingers on a hand, from the end of the stem. Many other plant species also share palmate or pinnate leaves in one variation or another.
Palm trees provide many food staples
Everyone knows that coconuts come from palm trees. But, you may not know that palm trees also provide us with acai fruit, dates, betel nuts and oil.
People make wine out of palms
It seems like wine can be made out of just about anything! Palm wine, or Kallu, is commonly made in regions of Africa and Asia. It can be made from several types of palms, including date palms, coconut palms and the Chilean wine palm!
Over 2500 species of palm trees exist today
Palm trees come from the Arecaceae plant family. They are found in both arid regions and tropical rainforests around the world. The needle palm is one type of the species that is so hardy it can even be grown in Alaska!
Not all plants called “palms” are trees or even palms!
Palms can grow in the form of trees, shrubs and even woody vines! Popular plants such as the yucca palm and sago palm are not a part of the Arecaceae family, so they are not palms at all!
The largest seed of any plant in the world is made by a palm tree!
The seeds of the Coco de Mer palm tree are huge! They can weigh over 60 pounds and be up to 20 inches in diameter!
Although there may appear to be an enormous number of palms on Earth, the reality is that up to 100 species of this tree are on the endangered list. Unsustainable cultivation practices, like those for gathering hearts of palm which are taken from a part of the tree that can’t re-grow, and deforestation are the two biggest dangers for these trees. One type of palm, the Hyophorbe amaricaulis, is the most rare. There is only one left in the world and resides at the Botanic Gardens of Curepipe in Mauritius.