FAMILY: Various

Some of the most beautiful and outstanding plants of the world belong to the Palm family, Palmaceae. Approximately 230 genera, with over 2,500 species, the palms represent some of the most useful plants to man. Many kinds of palms yield food, fibre, dyes, sugar, fuel, thatch, wax, oil, starch, vegetable ivory, rattan and many minor useful products.

Palms grow from the Tropics to the Subtropics, rarely reaching into the temperate latitudes. Years ago, it was thought by some that the palms were were part of the grass family, others thought palms had developed from the same ancestry as the lily. Palms grow singly or in colonies. Species vary widely in form and size; being shrubs, trees (with and without trunks) or rarely, climbers. The stem is simple, rarely branching; the stem can be very short, even underground, to very tall and stately. Leaves are usually large and pleated, ordinarily clustered at the top of the stem.

The flowers are small and numerous, fruits have a hard or fleshy covering.

Coconut (Cocos nucifera)
Dates (Phoenix dactylifera)
Sago (Arenga, Caryota, Cycas, Mauritia, Metroxylon)
Buds for salad (Calamus scipionum, Euterpe edulis)
Sugar (Arenga pinnata, Borassus flabellifer, Phoenix sylvestris)
Toddy (Arenga pinnata, Phoenix sylvestris)

Fiber (Raphia gigantea, R. pedunculata, R. hookeri)
Oil (Elais guineensis, Cocos nucifera, Corozo oleifera)
Wax (Copernicia sp.)
Vegetable Ivory (Phytelephas macrocarpa, P. seemanni)
Wood (Cocos sp. Phoenix sp.) Rattan (Calamus rotang)

Peggy Kenny,
RFCI Inc. Newsletter,
November, 1986

DATE: March 1987

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