Arecaceae

Arecaceae

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Arecaceae'
Start a new discussion about 'Arecaceae'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Arecaceae or Palmae are a family of flowering plant
Flowering plant
The flowering plants , also known as Angiospermae or Magnoliophyta, are the most diverse group of land plants. Angiosperms are seed-producing plants like the gymnosperms and can be distinguished from the gymnosperms by a series of synapomorphies...

s, the only family in the monocot
Monocotyledon
Monocotyledons, also known as monocots, are one of two major groups of flowering plants that are traditionally recognized, the other being dicotyledons, or dicots. Monocot seedlings typically have one cotyledon , in contrast to the two cotyledons typical of dicots...

 order Arecales. There are roughly 202 currently known genera
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 with around 2600 species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

, most of which are restricted to tropical
Tropics
The tropics is a region of the Earth surrounding the Equator. It is limited in latitude by the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere at approximately  N and the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere at  S; these latitudes correspond to the axial tilt of the Earth...

, subtropical
Subtropics
The subtropics are the geographical and climatical zone of the Earth immediately north and south of the tropical zone, which is bounded by the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, at latitudes 23.5°N and 23.5°S...

, and warm temperate
Temperate
In geography, temperate or tepid latitudes of the globe lie between the tropics and the polar circles. The changes in these regions between summer and winter are generally relatively moderate, rather than extreme hot or cold...

 climates. Most palms are distinguished by their large, compound, evergreen
Evergreen
In botany, an evergreen plant is a plant that has leaves in all seasons. This contrasts with deciduous plants, which completely lose their foliage during the winter or dry season.There are many different kinds of evergreen plants, both trees and shrubs...

 leaves
Leaf
A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant, as defined in botanical terms, and in particular in plant morphology. Foliage is a mass noun that refers to leaves as a feature of plants....

 arranged at the top of an unbranched stem. However, many palms are exceptions to this statement, and palms in fact exhibit an enormous diversity in physical characteristics. As well as being morphologically diverse, palms also inhabit nearly every type of habitat
Habitat (ecology)
A habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant or other type of organism...

 within their range, from rainforest
Rainforest
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

s to desert
Desert
A desert is a landscape or region that receives an extremely low amount of precipitation, less than enough to support growth of most plants. Most deserts have an average annual precipitation of less than...

s.

Palms are among the best known and most extensively cultivated plant families. They have been important to humans throughout much of history. Many common products and foods are derived from palms, and palms are also widely used in landscaping for their exotic appearance, making them one of the most economically important plants. In many historical cultures, palms were symbols
Palm branch (symbol)
A palm branch , usually refers to the leaves of the Arecaceae ....

 for such ideas as victory, peace, and fertility. Today, palms remain a popular symbol for the tropics and vacations
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

.

Morphology



Whether as shrubs, trees, or vines, palms have two methods of growth: solitary or clusters. The common representation is that of a solitary shoot ending in a crown of leaves. This monopodial
Monopodial
Vascular plants with monopodial growth habits grow upward from a single point. They add leaves to the apex each year and the stem grows longer accordingly...

 behavior may be exhibited by prostrate, trunkless, and trunk-forming members. Some common palms restricted to solitary growth include Washingtonia
Washingtonia
Washingtonia is a genus of palms, native to the southwestern United States and northwest Mexico...

and Roystonea
Roystonea
Roystonea is a genus of eleven species of monoecious palms, native to the Caribbean Islands, and the adjacent coasts of Florida, Central and South America. Commonly known as the royal palms, the genus was named for Roy Stone, a U.S. Army engineer...

. Palms may instead grow in sparse to dense clusters. The trunk will develop an axillary bud at a leaf node, usually near the base, from which a new shoot emerges. The new shoot, in turn, produces an axillary bud and a clustering habit results. Exclusively sympodial
Sympodial
Sympodial means "with conjoined feet", and in biology is often used to refer to the outward morphology or mode of growth of organisms.-In botany:...

 genera include many of the rattan
Rattan
Rattan is the name for the roughly 600 species of palms in the tribe Calameae, native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Australasia.- Structure :...

s, Guihaia
Guihaia
Guihaia is a genus of two species of palms found in China and Vietnam....

, and Rhapis
Rhapis
Rhapis is a genus of about 10 species of small palms native to southeastern Asia from southern Japan and southern China south to Thailand. The species are commonly known as Lady Palms....

. Several palm genera have both solitary and clustering members. Palms which are usually solitary may grow in clusters, and vice versa. These aberrations suggest that the habit operates on a single gene.

Palms have large evergreen leaves that are either palmately ('fan-leaved') or pinnately ('feather-leaved') compound and spirally arranged at the top of the stem. The leaves have a tubular sheath at the base that usually splits open on one side at maturity. The inflorescence
Inflorescence
An inflorescence is a group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem that is composed of a main branch or a complicated arrangement of branches. Strictly, it is the part of the shoot of seed plants where flowers are formed and which is accordingly modified...

 is a panicle
Panicle
A panicle is a compound raceme, a loose, much-branched indeterminate inflorescence with pedicellate flowers attached along the secondary branches; in other words, a branched cluster of flowers in which the branches are racemes....

 or spike
Raceme
A raceme is a type of inflorescence that is unbranched and indeterminate and bears pedicellate flowers — flowers having short floral stalks called pedicels — along the axis. In botany, axis means a shoot, in this case one bearing the flowers. In a raceme, the oldest flowers are borne...

 surrounded by one or more bract
Bract
In botany, a bract is a modified or specialized leaf, especially one associated with a reproductive structure such as a flower, inflorescence axis, or cone scale. Bracts are often different from foliage leaves. They may be smaller, larger, or of a different color, shape, or texture...

s or spathe
Spadix
In botany, a spadix is a type of spike inflorescence having small flowers borne on a fleshy stem. Spadix are typical of the Family Araceae known as arums or aroids...

s that become woody at maturity. The flower
Flower
A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants . The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs...

s are generally small and white, radially symmetric, and can be either uni- or bi-sexual. The sepals and petals usually number three each, and may be distinct or joined at the base. The stamens generally number six, with filaments that may be separate, attached to each other, or attached to the pistil at the base. The fruit
Fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

 is usually a single-seed
Seed
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant...

ed drupe
Drupe
In botany, a drupe is a fruit in which an outer fleshy part surrounds a shell of hardened endocarp with a seed inside. These fruits develop from a single carpel, and mostly from flowers with superior ovaries...

, but some genera (e.g. Salacca
Salacca
Salacca is a genus of 20 species of palms native to Indonesia. They are very short-stemmed palms, with leaves up to 6–8 m long. The leaves have a spiny petiole; in most species they are pinnate with numerous leaflets, but some species, notably S...

) may contain two or more seeds in each fruit.
Arecaceae are notable among monocots for their height and for the size of their seeds, leaves, and inflorescences. Ceroxylon quindiuense
Ceroxylon quindiuense
Ceroxylon quindiuense , is a palm native to the Andean high altitude valley of Cocora in the department of Quindío, northwest Colombia.-Description:...

, Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

's national tree, is the tallest monocot in the world, reaching heights of 60 meters. The Coco de mer
Coco de mer
The Coco de Mer , the sole member of the genus Lodoicea, is a palm endemic to the islands of Praslin and Curieuse in the Seychelles. It formerly also was found on St Pierre, Chauve-Souris and Ile Ronde in the Seychelles group, but has become extinct on these islands...

 (Lodoicea maldivica) has the largest seeds of any plant, 40–50 cm in diameter and weighing 15–30 kilograms each. Raffia palm
Raffia palm
The Raffia palms are a genus of twenty species of palms native to tropical regions of Africa, especially Madagascar, with one species also occurring in Central and South America. They grow up to 16 m tall and are remarkable for their compound pinnate leaves, the longest in the plant kingdom;...

s (Raphia spp.) have the largest leaves of any plant, up to 25 meters long and 3 meters wide. The Corypha
Corypha
Corypha is a genus of six or seven species of palms , native to India, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, New Guinea, and northeastern Australia...

species have the largest inflorescence of any plant, up to 7.5 meters tall and containing millions of small flowers.

Range and habitat



Most palms grow in the tropics. They are abundant throughout the tropics, and thrive in almost every habitat therein. Their diversity is highest in wet, lowland tropical forests, especially in ecological "hotspots" such as Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

, which has more endemic palms than all of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

. Colombia may have the highest number of palm species in one country.

It is estimated that only 130 palm species grow naturally beyond the tropics, mostly in the subtropics. The northernmost native palm is Chamaerops humilis
Chamaerops
Chamaerops is a genus of flowering plants in the family Arecaceae , comprising a single species Chamaerops humilis , representative of the Pre-Pliocene paleo-tropical ancestral lineages in the area.-Distribution:It is the only palm species native to continental Europe...

, which reaches 44°N latitude in southern France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. The southernmost palm is the Rhopalostylis sapida
Nikau
Nikau is a palm tree, the only palm endemic to New Zealand.-Etymology:Nīkau is a Māori word; in the closely related Eastern Polynesian languages of the tropical Pacific, it refers to the fronds or the midrib of the coconut palm.- Distribution:The Nikau palm is the only palm species endemic to...

, which reaches 44°S on the Chatham Islands
Chatham Islands
The Chatham Islands are an archipelago and New Zealand territory in the Pacific Ocean consisting of about ten islands within a radius, the largest of which are Chatham Island and Pitt Island. Their name in the indigenous language, Moriori, means Misty Sun...

 where an oceanic climate
Oceanic climate
An oceanic climate, also called marine west coast climate, maritime climate, Cascadian climate and British climate for Köppen climate classification Cfb and subtropical highland for Köppen Cfb or Cwb, is a type of climate typically found along the west coasts at the middle latitudes of some of the...

 prevails. Some palms, such as the Trachycarpus fortunei
Trachycarpus fortunei
Trachycarpus fortunei is a palm native to central China , south to northern Burma. It is a fan palm Trachycarpus fortunei (Chusan Palm, Windmill Palm or Chinese Windmill Palm; syn. Chamaerops fortunei Hook., T. wagnerianus Becc.) is a palm native to central China (Hubei southwards), south to...

, grow well under cultivation as far north as over 50°N in oceanic climates (Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 and coastal British Columbia- Vancouver
Vancouver
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

/ Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island is a large island in British Columbia, Canada. It is one of several North American locations named after George Vancouver, the British Royal Navy officer who explored the Pacific Northwest coast of North America between 1791 and 1794...

).

Palms inhabit a variety of ecosystems. More than two thirds of palm species live in tropical forests, where some species grow tall enough to form part of the canopy and shorter ones form part of the understory
Understory
Understory is the term for the area of a forest which grows at the lowest height level below the forest canopy. Plants in the understory consist of a mixture of seedlings and saplings of canopy trees together with understory shrubs and herbs...

. Some species form pure stands in areas with poor drainage or regular flooding, including Raphia hookeri which is common in coastal freshwater swamps in West Africa. Other palms live in tropical mountain habitats above 1000 meters, such as those in the genus Ceroxylon
Ceroxylon
Ceroxylon is a genus of flowering plant in the Arecaceae family, native to the Andes in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, known as Andean wax palms....

native to the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

. Palms may also live in grasslands and scrublands, usually associated with a water source, and in desert oases
Oasis
In geography, an oasis or cienega is an isolated area of vegetation in a desert, typically surrounding a spring or similar water source...

 such as the Date Palm
Date Palm
The date palm is a palm in the genus Phoenix, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. Although its place of origin is unknown because of long cultivation, it probably originated from lands around the Persian Gulf. It is a medium-sized plant, 15–25 m tall, growing singly or forming a clump with...

. A few palms are adapted to extremely basic
Base (chemistry)
For the term in genetics, see base A base in chemistry is a substance that can accept hydrogen ions or more generally, donate electron pairs. A soluble base is referred to as an alkali if it contains and releases hydroxide ions quantitatively...

 lime
Lime (mineral)
Lime is a general term for calcium-containing inorganic materials, in which carbonates, oxides and hydroxides predominate. Strictly speaking, lime is calcium oxide or calcium hydroxide. It is also the name for a single mineral of the CaO composition, occurring very rarely...

 soils, while others are similarly adapted to very acid
Acid
An acid is a substance which reacts with a base. Commonly, acids can be identified as tasting sour, reacting with metals such as calcium, and bases like sodium carbonate. Aqueous acids have a pH of less than 7, where an acid of lower pH is typically stronger, and turn blue litmus paper red...

ic serpentine soil
Serpentine soil
A serpentine soil is derived from ultramafic rocks, in particular serpentinite, a rock formed by the hydration and metamorphic transformation of ultramafic rock from the Earth's mantle....

s.

Taxonomy





Palms are a monophyletic
Monophyly
In common cladistic usage, a monophyletic group is a taxon which forms a clade, meaning that it contains all the descendants of the possibly hypothetical closest common ancestor of the members of the group. The term is synonymous with the uncommon term holophyly...

 group of plants, meaning that the group consists of a common ancestor and all its descendants. Extensive taxonomic research on palms began with botanist H.E. Moore, who organized palms into fifteen major groups based mostly on general morphological characteristics. The following classification, proposed by N.W. Uhl and J. Dransfield in 1987, is a revision of Moore's classification that organizes palms into six subfamilies. A few general traits of each subfamily are listed.

Coryphoideae is the most diverse subfamily and is a paraphyletic
Paraphyly
A group of taxa is said to be paraphyletic if the group consists of all the descendants of a hypothetical closest common ancestor minus one or more monophyletic groups of descendants...

 group, meaning that all members of the group share a common ancestor but the group does not include all the ancestor's descendants. Most palms in this subfamily have palmately lobed leaves and solitary flowers with three, sometimes four carpels. The fruit normally develops from only one carpel. Subfamily Calamoideae includes the climbing palms such as rattans. The leaves are usually pinnate; derived characters (synapomorphies
Synapomorphy
In cladistics, a synapomorphy or synapomorphic character is a trait that is shared by two or more taxa and their most recent common ancestor, whose ancestor in turn does not possess the trait. A synapomorphy is thus an apomorphy visible in multiple taxa, where the trait in question originates in...

) include spines on various organs, organs specialized for climbing, an extension of the main stem of the leaf bearing reflexed spines, and overlapping scales covering the fruit and ovary. Subfamily Nypoideae contains only one genus and one species, Nypa fruticans, which has large pinnate leaves. The fruit is unusual in that it floats, and the stem is dichotomously branched, also unusual in palms. Subfamily Ceroxyloideae has small to medium-sized flowers that spirally arranged, with a gynoecium
Gynoecium
Gynoecium is most commonly used as a collective term for all carpels in a flower. A carpel is the ovule and seed producing reproductive organ in flowering plants. Carpels are derived from ovule-bearing leaves which evolved to form a closed structure containing the ovules...

 of three joined carpels. Arecoideae is the largest subfamily with six diverse tribes containing over 100 genera. All tribes have pinnate or bipinnate leaves and flowers arranged in groups of three, with a central pistillate and two staminate flowers. Phytelephantoideae is a monoecious subfamily. Members of this group have distinct monopodial flower clusters. Other distinct features include a gynoecium with five to ten joined carpels, and flowers with more than three parts per whorl. Fruits are multiseeded and have multiple parts.

Currently, few extensive phylogenetic studies of Arecaceae exist. In 1997, Baker et al. explored subfamily and tribe relationships using chloroplast DNA
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 from 60 genera from all subfamilies and tribes. The results strongly showed that Calamoideae is monophyletic, and that Ceroxyloideae and Coryphoideae are paraphyletic. The relationships of Arecoideae are uncertain but it is possibly related to Ceroxyloideae and Phytelephantoideae. Studies have suggested that the lack of a fully resolved hypothesis for the relationships within the family is due to a variety of factors including difficulties in selecting appropriate outgroups, homoplasy in morphological character states, slow rates of molecular evolution important for the use of standard DNA markers, and character polarization. However, hybridization has been observed among Orbignya and Phoenix species, and using chloroplast DNA in cladistic studies may produce inaccurate results due to maternal inheritance of the chloroplast DNA. Chemical and molecular data from non-organelle DNA, for example, could be more effective for studying palm phylogeny.

Selected genera


  • Archontophoenix
    Archontophoenix
    Archontophoenix is a plant genus comprising six palm species that are native to New South Wales and Queensland in eastern Australia. They are tall, slender and unbranched.Species include:...

    Bangalow palm
    Archontophoenix cunninghamiana
    Archontophoenix cunninghamiana, the Bangalow Palm or King Palm, is an Australian palm. It can grow up to and over 20 metres tall. Its flower colour is violet and the red fruits are attractive to birds. It flowers in mid-summer and has evergreen foliage...

  • Areca
    Areca
    Areca is a genus of about 50 species of single-stemmed palms in the family Arecaceae, found in humid tropical forests from Malaysia to the Solomon Islands. The generic name Areca is derived from a name used locally on the Malabar Coast of India....

    Betel palm
    Areca catechu
    Areca catechu is the areca palm or areca nut palm, , a species of palm which grows in much of the tropical Pacific, Asia, and parts of east Africa. The palm is believed to have originated in either Malaysia or the Philippines...

  • Bactris
    Bactris
    Bactris is a genus of about 240 species in the palm family, Arecaceae, native to Central and South America, and the Caribbean. They are trees growing to 4-20 m tall. The leaves are up to 5 m long, and pinnate with numerous leaflets...

    Pupunha
    Bactris gasipaes
    Bactris gasipaes is a species of palm native to the tropical forests of South and Central America.There are numerous common names for this plant in several languages and many countries...

  • Beccariophoenix
    Beccariophoenix
    Beccariophoenix is a genus of 3 species of Arecaceae , native to Madagascar. The genus is closely related to the Cocos, or coconut genus, and Beccariophoenix species, notably Beccariophoenix alfredii are very similar in appearance to the coconut palm, although they are somewhat cold hardy, making...

    Beccariophoenix alfredii
    Beccariophoenix alfredii
    Beccariophoenix alfredii, also known as the High Plateau Coconut Palm, is a recently discovered species of Arecaceae , endemic to Madagascar. It is in the genus Beccariophoenix, and is closely related to the genus Cocos...

  • Bismarckia
    Bismarckia
    Bismarckia is a monotypic genus of flowering plant in the palm family endemic to western and northern Madagascar where they grow in open grassland. The genus is named for the first chancellor of the German Empire Otto von Bismarck and the epithet for its only species, Bismarckia nobilis, comes...

    —Bismark palm
  • Borassus
    Borassus
    Borassus is a genus of six species of fan palms, native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia and New Guinea. They are tall palms, capable of growing up to 30 m high. The leaves are long, fan-shaped, 2 to 3 m in length...

    —Palmyra palm, Sugar palm
    Borassus flabellifer
    Borassus flabellifer, the Asian Palmyra palm, Toddy palm, Sugar palm, or Cambodian palm, is native to South and Southeast Asia, in the Indomalaya ecozone...

    , Toddy palm
    Borassus flabellifer
    Borassus flabellifer, the Asian Palmyra palm, Toddy palm, Sugar palm, or Cambodian palm, is native to South and Southeast Asia, in the Indomalaya ecozone...

  • CalamusRattan
    Rattan
    Rattan is the name for the roughly 600 species of palms in the tribe Calameae, native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Australasia.- Structure :...

     palm
  • Cocos
    Coconut
    The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae . It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word...

    —Coconut
  • Copernicia
    Copernicia
    Copernicia is a genus of 24 species of palms, native to South America and the Caribbean. They are fan palms , with the leaves with a bare petiole terminating in a rounded fan of numerous leaflets...

    Carnauba wax
    Carnauba wax
    Carnauba , also called Brazil wax and palm wax, is a wax of the leaves of the palm Copernicia prunifera, a plant native to and grown only in the northeastern Brazilian states of Piauí, Ceará, and Rio Grande do Norte. It is known as "queen of waxes" and usually comes in the form of hard yellow-brown...

     palm
  • Corypha
    Corypha
    Corypha is a genus of six or seven species of palms , native to India, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, New Guinea, and northeastern Australia...

    —Gebang palm, Buri palm or Talipot palm
  • Elaeis
    Oil palm
    The oil palms comprise two species of the Arecaceae, or palm family. They are used in commercial agriculture in the production of palm oil. The African Oil Palm Elaeis guineensis is native to West Africa, occurring between Angola and Gambia, while the American Oil Palm Elaeis oleifera is native to...

    —Oil palm
  • Euterpe
    Açaí Palm
    The açaí palm is a species of palm tree in the genus Euterpe cultivated for their fruit and superior hearts of palm. Its name comes from the Portuguese adaptation of the Tupian word ïwasa'i, '[fruit that] cries or expels water'. Global demand for the fruit has expanded rapidly in recent years,...

    —Cabbage Heart palm, Açaí Palm
  • Hyphaene
    Hyphaene
    Hyphaene is a genus of eight species of palms which includes the Doum palm . They are unusual among palms in having regular naturally branched trunks; most other palms are single-stemmed from the ground.-References:*...

    —Doum Palm
  • Jubaea
    Jubaea
    Jubaea chilensis is the sole extant species in the genus Jubaea in the palm family Arecaceae. It is native to southwestern South America, where it is endemic to a small area of central Chile, between 32°S and 35°S in southern Coquimbo, Valparaíso, Santiago, O'Higgins and northern Maule regions...

    —Chilean Wine Palm, Coquito palm
  • Latania
    Latania
    Latania commonly known as Latan palm is a genus of flowering plant in the Arecaceae family.It contains the following species:* Latania loddigesii * Latania lontaroides...

    —Latan palm
  • Livistona
    Livistona
    Livistona is a genus of 36 species of palms , native to southern and southeastern Asia, Australasia, and the Horn of Africa...

    —Cabbage Palm
  • Mauritia
    Mauritia
    Mauritia is a genus of fan palms which is native to northern South America. Mauritia flexuosa is widely distribution across northern South America, extending north to Trinidad, while the other M. carana is restricted to the Amazon region....

    Moriche Palm
    Moriche Palm
    The Moriche Palm, Mauritia flexuosa, also known as the Ité Palm, Ita, Buriti, or aguaje , is a palm tree. It grows in and near swamps and other wet areas in tropical South America....

  • Metroxylon
    Metroxylon
    Metroxylon is a genus of monoecious flowering plants in the Arecaceae family, consisting of seven species. They are native to Western Samoa, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the Moluccas, the Carolines and Fiji in a variety of habitats, and cultivated westward to Thailand and Malaya.The name is...

    Sago palm
    Metroxylon sagu
    Metroxylon sagu is a species of palm in the genus Metroxylon, native to tropical southeastern Asia in Indonesia , Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and possibly also the Philippines .It is a monocarpic palm growing to 10 m tall or more, with pinnate leaves up to 7 m...

  • Nypa
    Nypa fruticans
    Nypa fruticans, known as the attap palm , nipa palm , and mangrove palm or buah atap , buah nipah , dừa nước , Ging Pol in Sinhala in Sri Lanka and gol pata , dani . It is the only palm considered a mangrove in the Mangroves Biome...

    Nipa Palm
    Nypa fruticans
    Nypa fruticans, known as the attap palm , nipa palm , and mangrove palm or buah atap , buah nipah , dừa nước , Ging Pol in Sinhala in Sri Lanka and gol pata , dani . It is the only palm considered a mangrove in the Mangroves Biome...

  • Parajubaea
    Parajubaea
    Parajubaea is a genus of flowering plant in the Arecaceae family.It contains the following species:* Sunkha Palm * Palma De Pasobaya * Coquitos...

    -Bolivian Coconut Palms
  • Phoenix
    Phoenix (plant)
    Phoenix is a genus of 14 species of palms, native from the Canary Islands east across northern and central Africa, the extreme southeast of Europe , and southern Asia from Turkey east to southern China and Malaysia. The diverse habitats they occupy include swamps, deserts, and mangrove sea coasts...

    Date palm
    Date Palm
    The date palm is a palm in the genus Phoenix, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. Although its place of origin is unknown because of long cultivation, it probably originated from lands around the Persian Gulf. It is a medium-sized plant, 15–25 m tall, growing singly or forming a clump with...

  • Phoenix sylvestris
    Phoenix sylvestris
    Phoenix sylvestris also known as Silver Date Palm or Sugar Date Palm, is a species of flowering plant in the palm family native to southern Pakistan,most of India and Bangladesh. Growing in plains and scrubland to 1300 m, the fruit from this palm species is used to make wine and jelly...

    —Wild date palm
  • Raphia
    Raffia palm
    The Raffia palms are a genus of twenty species of palms native to tropical regions of Africa, especially Madagascar, with one species also occurring in Central and South America. They grow up to 16 m tall and are remarkable for their compound pinnate leaves, the longest in the plant kingdom;...

    —Raffia palm
  • Roystonea
    Roystonea
    Roystonea is a genus of eleven species of monoecious palms, native to the Caribbean Islands, and the adjacent coasts of Florida, Central and South America. Commonly known as the royal palms, the genus was named for Roy Stone, a U.S. Army engineer...

    —Royal palm
  • Sabal
    Sabal
    Sabal is a genus of New World palms, many of the species being known as palmetto. They are fan palms , with the leaves with a bare petiole terminating in a rounded fan of numerous leaflets; in some of the species, the leaflets are joined for up to half of their length...

    —Palmettos
  • Salacca
    Salacca
    Salacca is a genus of 20 species of palms native to Indonesia. They are very short-stemmed palms, with leaves up to 6–8 m long. The leaves have a spiny petiole; in most species they are pinnate with numerous leaflets, but some species, notably S...

    Salak
    Salak
    Salak is a species of palm tree native to Indonesia. It is a very short-stemmed palm, with leaves up to long; each leaf has a 2-metre long petiole with spines up to long, and numerous leaflets....

  • Syagrus
    Syagrus
    Syagrus is a genus of 30 to 42 species of Arecaceae , native to South America, with one species endemic to the Lesser Antilles. The genus is closely related to the Cocos, or coconut genus, and many Syagrus species produce edible seeds similar to the coconut.-Description:Palms in this group have...

    Queen palm
    Syagrus romanzoffiana
    Syagrus romanzoffiana is a palm native to South America, from northern Argentina north to eastern Brazil and west to eastern Bolivia. It is very similar to the coconut palm. It had been classified within the Cocos genus as Cocos plumosa, was assigned to Arecastrum, then moved to Syagrus...

  • Trachycarpus
    Trachycarpus
    Trachycarpus is a genus of ten species of palms native to Asia, from the Himalaya east to eastern China. They are fan palms , with the leaves with a bare petiole terminating in a rounded fan of numerous leaflets. The leaf bases produce persistent fibers that often give the trunk a characteristic...

    Windmill palm
    Trachycarpus fortunei
    Trachycarpus fortunei is a palm native to central China , south to northern Burma. It is a fan palm Trachycarpus fortunei (Chusan Palm, Windmill Palm or Chinese Windmill Palm; syn. Chamaerops fortunei Hook., T. wagnerianus Becc.) is a palm native to central China (Hubei southwards), south to...

    , Kumaon palm
    Trachycarpus takil
    Trachycarpus takil is a fan palm native to the foothills of the Himalaya in Kumaon in northwestern India, and possibly in adjacent western Nepal; it grows at altitudes of 1,800–2,700 m....

  • Veitchia
    Veitchia
    Veitchia is a genus of flowering plant in the Arecaceae family.It contains the following species:* Veitchia filifera* Veitchia joannis * Veitchia macdanielsii* Veitchia merrillii* Veitchia metiti...

    —Manila palm, Joannis palm
    Veitchia joannis
    Veitchia joannis, or the Joannis Palm, is a species of flowering plant in the Arecaceae family.It is endemic to Fiji.-References:* Fuller, D. 1998. . Downloaded on 20 July 2007.-External links:**...

  • Washingtonia
    Washingtonia
    Washingtonia is a genus of palms, native to the southwestern United States and northwest Mexico...

    —Fan palm


See list of Arecaceae genera arranged by taxonomic groups or by alphabetical order for a complete listing of genera.

Evolution


Arecaceae is the first modern family of monocots that is clearly represented in the fossil record. Palms first appear in the fossil record around 80 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous
Cretaceous
The Cretaceous , derived from the Latin "creta" , usually abbreviated K for its German translation Kreide , is a geologic period and system from circa to million years ago. In the geologic timescale, the Cretaceous follows the Jurassic period and is followed by the Paleogene period of the...

 Period. The first modern species, such as Nypa fruticans
Nypa fruticans
Nypa fruticans, known as the attap palm , nipa palm , and mangrove palm or buah atap , buah nipah , dừa nước , Ging Pol in Sinhala in Sri Lanka and gol pata , dani . It is the only palm considered a mangrove in the Mangroves Biome...

and Acrocomia aculeata
Acrocomia
Acrocomia aculeata is a species of palm native to tropical regions of the Americas, from southern Mexico and the Caribbean south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. Common names include Grugru Palm, Macaúba Palm, Coyol Palm, and Macaw Palm; synonyms include A. lasiospatha, A. sclerocarpa, A. totai,...

, appeared 69-70 million years ago, confirmed by fossil Nypa pollen dated to 70 million years ago. Palms appear to have undergone an early period of adaptive radiation
Adaptive radiation
In evolutionary biology, adaptive radiation is the evolution of ecological and phenotypic diversity within a rapidly multiplying lineage. Starting with a recent single ancestor, this process results in the speciation and phenotypic adaptation of an array of species exhibiting different...

. By 60 million years ago, many of the modern, specialized genera of palms appeared and became widespread and common, much more widespread than their range today. Because palms separated from the monocots earlier than other families, they developed more intrafamilial specialization and diversity. By tracing back these diverse characteristics of palms to the basic structures of monocots, palms may be valuable in studying monocot evolution. Several species of palms have been identified from flowers preserved in amber including Palaeoraphe dominicana
Palaeoraphe
Palaeoraphe is an extinct genus of palm, represented by one species, Palaeoraphe dominicana from early Miocene Burdigalian stage Dominican amber deposits on the island of Hispaniola. The genus is known from a single, diameter, full flower...

and Roystonea palaea‎.

Evidence can also be found in samples of petrified palmwood
Petrified palmwood
Palmoxylon , is an extinct genus of palm named from petrified wood found around the world. A number of species from the Cretaceous and Tertiary have been described from the Patagonia region of South America...

.

Uses


Human use of palms is as old or older than human civilization itself, starting with the cultivation of the date palm by Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

ns and other Middle Eastern peoples 5000 years or more ago. Date wood, pits for storing dates, and other remains of the date palm have been found in Mesopotamian sites. The Date Palm had a tremendous effect on the history of the Middle East. W.H. Barreveld wrote:
"One could go as far as to say that, had the date palm not existed, the expansion of the human race into the hot and barren parts of the "old" world would have been much more restricted. The date palm not only provided a concentrated energy food, which could be easily stored and carried along on long journeys across the deserts, it also created a more amenable habitat for the people to live in by providing shade and protection from the desert winds (Fig. 1). In addition, the date palm also yielded a variety of products for use in agricultural production and for domestic utensils, and practically all parts of the palm had a useful purpose."


An indication of the importance of palms in ancient times is that they are mentioned more than 30 times in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, and at least 22 times in the Quran.


Arecaceae has great economic importance including coconut products, oils, dates, palm syrup
Palm syrup
Miel de palma is an edible sweet syrup produced from the sap of a number of palms. It is produced in the Canary Islands and coastal regions of South America.-Species:...

, ivory nuts, carnauba wax, rattan cane, raffia and palm wood
Palmwood
Coconut timber is a hardwood-substitute from coconut palm trees. It is referred to in the Philippines as Coconut Lumber, or Coco Lumber. It is a new timber resource that comes from plantation crops and offers an alternative to rainforest timber....

.

Along with dates mentioned above, members of the Palm Family with human uses are numerous.
  • The type member of Arecaceae is the Areca
    Areca
    Areca is a genus of about 50 species of single-stemmed palms in the family Arecaceae, found in humid tropical forests from Malaysia to the Solomon Islands. The generic name Areca is derived from a name used locally on the Malabar Coast of India....

     palm, the fruit of which, the betel nut
    Betel nut
    The Areca nut is the seed of the Areca palm , which grows in much of the tropical Pacific, Asia, and parts of east Africa. It is commonly referred to as "betel nut" as it is often chewed wrapped in betel leaves.-Description:...

    , is chewed with the betel
    Betel
    The Betel is the leaf of a vine belonging to the Piperaceae family, which includes pepper and Kava. It is valued both as a mild stimulant and for its medicinal properties...

     leaf for intoxicating effects (Areca catechu).
  • Carnuba wax is harvested from the leaves of a Brazilian palm (Copernicia).
  • Rattan
    Rattan
    Rattan is the name for the roughly 600 species of palms in the tribe Calameae, native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Australasia.- Structure :...

    s, whose stems are used extensively in furniture
    Furniture
    Furniture is the mass noun for the movable objects intended to support various human activities such as seating and sleeping in beds, to hold objects at a convenient height for work using horizontal surfaces above the ground, or to store things...

     and basket
    Basket
    A basket is a container which is traditionally constructed from stiff fibres, which can be made from a range of materials, including wood splints, runners, and cane. While most baskets are made from plant materials, other materials such as horsehair, baleen, or metal wire can be used. Baskets are...

    s are in the genus Calamus.
  • Palm oil
    Palm oil
    Palm oil, coconut oil and palm kernel oil are edible plant oils derived from the fruits of palm trees. Palm oil is extracted from the pulp of the fruit of the oil palm Elaeis guineensis; palm kernel oil is derived from the kernel of the oil palm and coconut oil is derived from the kernel of the...

     is an edible vegetable oil produced by the oil palm
    Oil palm
    The oil palms comprise two species of the Arecaceae, or palm family. They are used in commercial agriculture in the production of palm oil. The African Oil Palm Elaeis guineensis is native to West Africa, occurring between Angola and Gambia, while the American Oil Palm Elaeis oleifera is native to...

    s in the genus Elaeis.
  • Several species are harvested for heart of palm
    Heart of palm
    Heart of palm, also called palm heart, palmito, burglar's thigh, chonta, palm cabbage or swamp cabbage, is a vegetable harvested from the inner core and growing bud of certain palm trees Heart of palm, also called palm heart, palmito, burglar's thigh, chonta, palm cabbage or swamp cabbage, is a...

    , a vegetable eaten in salads.
  • Sap of the nipa palm Nypa is used to make vinegar.
  • Palm sap is sometimes fermented
    Fermentation (food)
    Fermentation in food processing typically is the conversion of carbohydrates to alcohols and carbon dioxide or organic acids using yeasts, bacteria, or a combination thereof, under anaerobic conditions. Fermentation in simple terms is the chemical conversion of sugars into ethanol...

     to produce palm wine
    Palm wine
    Palm wine also called Palm Toddy also called "Kallu" written in Malayalam and கள்ளு in Tamil or simply Toddy is an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of various species of palm tree such as the palmyra, and coconut palms...

     or toddy, an alcoholic beverage
    Alcoholic beverage
    An alcoholic beverage is a drink containing ethanol, commonly known as alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are divided into three general classes: beers, wines, and spirits. They are legally consumed in most countries, and over 100 countries have laws regulating their production, sale, and consumption...

     common in parts of Africa, India, and the Philippines
    Philippines
    The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

    .
  • Dragon's blood
    Dragon's blood
    Dragon's blood is a bright red resin that is obtained from different species of a number of distinct plant genera: Croton, Dracaena, Daemonorops, Calamus rotang and Pterocarpus. The red resin was used in ancient times as varnish, medicine, incense, and dye...

    , a red resin used traditionally in medicine
    Medicine
    Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

    , varnish
    Varnish
    Varnish is a transparent, hard, protective finish or film primarily used in wood finishing but also for other materials. Varnish is traditionally a combination of a drying oil, a resin, and a thinner or solvent. Varnish finishes are usually glossy but may be designed to produce satin or semi-gloss...

    , and dye
    Dye
    A dye is a colored substance that has an affinity to the substrate to which it is being applied. The dye is generally applied in an aqueous solution, and requires a mordant to improve the fastness of the dye on the fiber....

    s, may be obtained from the fruit of Daemonorops
    Daemonorops
    Daemonorops is a genus of rattan palms in the family Arecaceae found primarily in the tropics and subtropics of southeastern Asia.The stems of the Daemonorops are harvest for their cores, which is used for everything from canes to furniture. The fruits of certain species, in particular Daemonorops...

    species.
  • Coconut
    Coconut
    The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae . It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word...

     is the edible fruit of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera).
  • Coir
    Coir
    Coir is a natural fibre extracted from the husk of coconut and used in products such as floor mats, doormats, brushes, mattresses etc. Technically coir is the fibrous material found between the hard, internal shell and the outer coat of a coconut. Other uses of brown coir are in upholstery...

     is a coarse water-resistant fiber extracted from the outer shell of coconuts, used in doormats, brushes, mattresses, and ropes. In India, beekeepers use coir in their bee smokers.
  • Some indigenous groups living in palm-rich areas use palms to make many of their necessary items and food. Sago
    Sago
    Sago is a starch extracted in the spongy center or pith, of various tropical palm stems, Metroxylon sagu. It is a major staple food for the lowland peoples of New Guinea and the Moluccas, where it is called saksak and sagu. A type of flour, called sago flour, is made from sago. The largest supply...

    , for example, a starch
    Starch
    Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by all green plants as an energy store...

     made from the pith of the trunk of the sago palm Metroxylon sagu
    Metroxylon sagu
    Metroxylon sagu is a species of palm in the genus Metroxylon, native to tropical southeastern Asia in Indonesia , Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and possibly also the Philippines .It is a monocarpic palm growing to 10 m tall or more, with pinnate leaves up to 7 m...

    , is a major staple food
    Staple food
    A staple food is one that is eaten regularly and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a diet, and that supplies a high proportion of energy and nutrient needs. Most people live on a diet based on one or more staples...

     for lowland peoples of New Guinea
    New Guinea
    New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

     and the Moluccas. This is not the same plant commonly used as a house plant and called "sago palm."
  • Panama hats are woven from the leaves of the "Panama Hat" palm.
  • Palm wine is made from Jubaea
    Jubaea
    Jubaea chilensis is the sole extant species in the genus Jubaea in the palm family Arecaceae. It is native to southwestern South America, where it is endemic to a small area of central Chile, between 32°S and 35°S in southern Coquimbo, Valparaíso, Santiago, O'Higgins and northern Maule regions...

    also called Chilean wine palm, or coquito palm
  • Recently the fruit of the açaí palm Euterpe
    Açaí Palm
    The açaí palm is a species of palm tree in the genus Euterpe cultivated for their fruit and superior hearts of palm. Its name comes from the Portuguese adaptation of the Tupian word ïwasa'i, '[fruit that] cries or expels water'. Global demand for the fruit has expanded rapidly in recent years,...

    has been used for its reputed healthful benefits.
  • Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is under investigation as a drug for treating enlarged prostates.
  • Palm leaves are also valuable to some peoples as a material for thatching, basketry, clothing, and in religious ceremonies (see "Symbolism" below).



  • Ornamental Uses. Today, palms are valuable as ornamental plant
    Ornamental plant
    Ornamental plants are plants that are grown for decorative purposes in gardens and landscape design projects, as house plants, for cut flowers and specimen display...

    s and are often grown along streets in tropical and subtropical cities, and also along the Mediterranean
    Mediterranean Sea
    The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

     coast in Europe. Farther north, palms are a common feature in botanical gardens or as indoor plants. Few palms tolerate severe cold, however, and the majority of the species are tropical or subtropical. The three most cold-tolerant species are Trachycarpus fortunei
    Trachycarpus fortunei
    Trachycarpus fortunei is a palm native to central China , south to northern Burma. It is a fan palm Trachycarpus fortunei (Chusan Palm, Windmill Palm or Chinese Windmill Palm; syn. Chamaerops fortunei Hook., T. wagnerianus Becc.) is a palm native to central China (Hubei southwards), south to...

    , native to eastern Asia
    Asia
    Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

    , and Rhapidophyllum hystrix and Sabal minor, both native to the southeastern United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

    . For more details, see hardy palms
    Hardy palms
    Hardy palms are any of the species of palm that are able to withstand colder temperatures and thrive in places not typically considered in the natural range for palms. Several are native to higher elevations in Asia and can tolerate hard freezes with little or no damage...

    .


The southeastern state of South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

 is nicknamed the Palmetto State after the Cabbage Palmetto
Sabal palmetto
Sabal palmetto, also known as cabbage palm, palmetto, cabbage palmetto, palmetto palm, blue palmetto, Carolina palmetto, common palmetto, swamp cabbage and sabal palm, is one of 15 species of palmetto palm . It is native to the southeastern United States, Cuba, and the Bahamas...

, logs from which were used to build the fort at Fort Moultrie
Fort Moultrie National Monument
Fort Moultrie is the name of a series of citadels on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, built to protect the city of Charleston, South Carolina. The first fort, built of palmetto logs, inspired the flag and nickname of South Carolina...

. During the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

 they were invaluable to those defending the fort, because their spongy wood absorbed or deflected the British cannonballs. The Sabal Palmetto is also the state tree of Florida.
Some palms can be grown as far north as Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

, southern Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

 and even up along the Pacific coast to Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

, Washington and British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

, where ocean winds have a warming effect. There have even been known species of transplanted palms that have survived as far north as Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

. The Chinese Trachycarpus fortunei
Trachycarpus fortunei
Trachycarpus fortunei is a palm native to central China , south to northern Burma. It is a fan palm Trachycarpus fortunei (Chusan Palm, Windmill Palm or Chinese Windmill Palm; syn. Chamaerops fortunei Hook., T. wagnerianus Becc.) is a palm native to central China (Hubei southwards), south to...

is being grown experimentally on the Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

 at 62°N, with young plants doing well so far.

Endangered species



Like many other plants, palms have been threatened by human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 intervention and exploitation. The greatest risk to palms is destruction of habitat, especially in the tropical forests, due to urbanization
Urbanization
Urbanization, urbanisation or urban drift is the physical growth of urban areas as a result of global change. The United Nations projected that half of the world's population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008....

, wood-chipping, mining, and conversion to farmland. Palms rarely reproduce after such great changes in the habitat, and palms with a small habitat range are most vulnerable to them. The harvesting of heart of palm, a delicacy in salads, also poses a threat because it is derived from the palm's apical meristem, a vital part of the palm that cannot be regrown. The use of rattan palms in furniture has caused a major population decrease in these species that has negatively affected local and international markets as well as biodiversity in the area. The sale of seeds to nurseries and collectors is another threat, as the seeds of popular palms are sometimes harvested directly from the wild. At least 100 palm species are currently endangered, and nine species have reportedly recently become extinct.

However, several factors make palm conservation more difficult. Palms live in almost every type of habitat and have tremendous morphological diversity. Most palm seeds lose viability quickly, and they cannot be preserved in low temperatures because the cold kills the embryo. Using botanical gardens for conservation also presents problems, since they can only house a few plants of any species or truly imitate the natural setting. There is also the risk of cross-pollination, which leads to hybrid species.

The Palm Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union
World Conservation Union
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources is an international organization dedicated to finding "pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges." The organization publishes the IUCN Red List, compiling information from a network of...

 (IUCN) began in 1984 and has performed a series of three studies in order to find basic information on the status of palms in the wild, utilization of wild palms, and palms under cultivation. Two projects on palm conservation and utilization supported by the World Wildlife Fund took place from 1985–1990 and 1986–1991, in the American tropics and southeast Asia respectively. Both studies produced a large amount of new data and publications on palms. Preparation of a global action plan for palm conservation began in 1991, supported by the IUCN, and was published in 1996.

The rarest palm known is the Hyophorbe amaricaulis
Hyophorbe amaricaulis
Hyophorbe amaricaulis is a hurricane palm of the order Arecales, Family Arecaceae, Subfamily Arecoideae, Tribe Hyophorbeae...

. The only living individual that remains is at the Botanic Gardens of Curepipe in Mauritius
Mauritius
Mauritius , officially the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about east of Madagascar...

.

Pest species


Pests that attack a variety of species of palm trees include:
  • Raoiella indica, the red palm mite

Symbolism


The palm branch was a symbol of triumph and victory in pre-Christian times. The Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 rewarded champions of the games and celebrated military successes with palm branches. Early Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s used the palm branch to symbolize the victory of the faithful over enemies of the soul, as in the Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four Canonical Gospels. ....

 festival celebrating the triumphal entry of Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 into Jerusalem. In Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, the palm represents peace and plenty, and is one of the Four Species
Lulav
The Lulav is a closed frond of the date palm tree. It is one of the arba'ah minim used in the morning prayer services during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot...

 of Sukkot
Sukkot
Sukkot is a Biblical holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei . It is one of the three biblically mandated festivals Shalosh regalim on which Hebrews were commanded to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.The holiday lasts seven days...

; the palm may also symbolize the Tree of Life
Tree of Life
The tree of life in the Book of Genesis is a tree planted by God in midst of the Garden of Eden , whose fruit gives everlasting life, i.e. immortality. Together with the tree of life, God planted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil . According to some scholars, however, these are in fact...

 in Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

.
Today, the palm, especially the coconut palm, remains a symbol of the stereotypical tropical island paradise
Paradise
Paradise is a place in which existence is positive, harmonious and timeless. It is conceptually a counter-image of the miseries of human civilization, and in paradise there is only peace, prosperity, and happiness. Paradise is a place of contentment, but it is not necessarily a land of luxury and...

.
Palms appear on the flags and seals of several places where they are native, including those of Haiti
Coat of arms of Haiti
The coat of arms of Haiti was first introduced in 1807, and has appeared in its current form since 1986.It shows six draped flags of the country, three on each side, which are located before a palm tree and cannons on a green lawn. On the lawn various items are found, such as a drum, a bugle, long...

, Guam, Saudi Arabia
Coat of arms of Saudi Arabia
The Saudi Arabian national emblem was adopted in 1950. According to the Saudi Constitution it consists of two crossed swords with a palm tree in the space above and between the blades....

, Florida
Seal of Florida
The Great Seal of the State of Florida is used to represent the Government of the State of Florida, and for various official purposes, such as to seal official documents and legislation. It is also commonly used on state government buildings, vehicles and other effects of the state government...

 and South Carolina
Flag of South Carolina
The flag of the state of South Carolina dates back to 1765 when opponents of the Stamp Act marched in protest behind a blue flag bearing three white crescents. In 1775 Colonel William Moultrie was asked by the Revolutionary Council of Safety to design a flag for the South Carolina troops to use...

.

See also

  • Travellers palm
    Travellers palm
    Ravenala madagascariensis, commonly known as Traveller's Tree or Traveller's Palm, is a species of plant from Madagascar. It is not a true palm but a member of the bird-of-paradise family, Strelitziaceae...

    —a palm-like tree belonging to order Zingiberales
    Zingiberales
    Zingiberales is an order of flowering plants. The order has been widely recognised by the taxonomists, at least for the past few decades. This order includes many familiar plants like ginger, cardamom, turmeric, galangal and myoga of the Zingiberaceae or ginger family, and bananas and plantains...

  • Sago palm
    Cycas revoluta
    Cycas revoluta , is a plant native to southern Japan. Though often known by the common name of king sago palm, or just sago palm, it is not a palm at all, but a cycad.-Description:...

    —a palm-like cycad
    Cycad
    Cycads are seed plants typically characterized by a stout and woody trunk with a crown of large, hard and stiff, evergreen leaves. They usually have pinnate leaves. The individual plants are either all male or all female . Cycads vary in size from having a trunk that is only a few centimeters...

     (a gymnosperm
    Gymnosperm
    The gymnosperms are a group of seed-bearing plants that includes conifers, cycads, Ginkgo, and Gnetales. The term "gymnosperm" comes from the Greek word gymnospermos , meaning "naked seeds", after the unenclosed condition of their seeds...

    )
  • Toddy tapping—palm wine making process
  • Postelsia
    Postelsia
    Postelsia, also known as the sea palm or palm seaweed, is a genus of kelp. There is only one species, Postelsia palmaeformis. It is found along the western coast of North America, on rocky shores with constant waves...

    —called the "sea palm" (a brown algae
    Brown algae
    The Phaeophyceae or brown algae , is a large group of mostly marine multicellular algae, including many seaweeds of colder Northern Hemisphere waters. They play an important role in marine environments, both as food and for the habitats they form...

    )
  • Hardy palms
    Hardy palms
    Hardy palms are any of the species of palm that are able to withstand colder temperatures and thrive in places not typically considered in the natural range for palms. Several are native to higher elevations in Asia and can tolerate hard freezes with little or no damage...

    —palms able to withstand colder temperatures
  • List of foliage plant diseases (Palmae)

External links