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The tree-like flowering plants from the Arecaceae family are known as palm trees.
The Arecaceae family includes a variety of plants like climbers, stemless plants, tree-like plants, and shrubs that are known as palms. Shrubs, trees, and perennial lianas are considered palm trees.
Palms are the most commonly grown trees. Since the very beginning, they have been a pillar in human civilization, which makes them quite special to many cultures. The Mesopotamians started the cultivation of date palms over 5000 years ago. Palm trees have not only been providing shade, but also every part of the tree has been used throughout human history. They mostly grow in warm tropical climates of tropical and sub-tropical areas.
Generally, palm trees grow under the full sun of tropical regions of Asia, America, Australia, and the South Pacific. Some are tolerant of cold weather and grow in chilly areas like Georgia, Virginia, California, Texas, and others. Palms have a solitary structured stem, crowned by large pinnate fronds protruding from the base.
Palm fronds could be simple, fan-shaped, or feather-shaped. Unlike conifers, the trunks don't grow vertically. Palms mostly have gender specified, either male or female flowers. The fruits are fleshy berries or drupes, and the roots extend deep under the soil they grow on.
There are 181 genera and 2600 species of palm trees, including dwarf varieties that have been identified. Some of the popular ones are:
Astrocaryum, attalea, bangalow Palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae), beccariophoenix (Beccariophoenix alfredii), betel palm or areca palm (Areca triandra), Bismarck palm (Bismarckia nobilis), Blue Hesper Palm (Brahea armata), Bolivian coconut palms (Parajubaea cocoides), Buri palm (Corypha sp.), Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis), Christmas palm (Veitchia merrillii), Chinese fan palm (Livistona chinensis), Chusan palm or windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortune), coconut palm (Cocos nucifera), Chilean wine palm, coquito palm (Jubaea chilensis), cabbage palm (Livistona sp.), cabbage heart palm (Euterpe oleracea), Ceroxylon sp., Coccothrinax argentata, Carnauba wax palm (Copernicia sp.), date Palm (Phoenix sp.), dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor), Doum palm (Hyphaene thebaica), European fan palm (Chamaerops humilis), fishtail palm (Caryota mitis), Guadalupe palm (Brahea edulis), Latan palm (Latania lontaroides), licuala spinosa, majestic palm (Ravena rivularis), Mexican palmetto (Sabal mexicana), Montgomery palm or Manila palm (Veitchia montgomeryana), and Moriche palm (Mauritia flexuosa).
There are also other varieties like Nipa palm (Nypa fruticans), oil palm (Elaeis sp.), Paurotis palm (Acoelorrhaphe wrightii), pindo or jelly palm (Butia capitata), Pupunha (Bactris sp.), Palmyra palm, sugar palm, toddy palm (Borassus flabellifer), queen palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana), rattan palm (Calamus sp.), royal palm (Roystonea regia), Raffia palm (Raphia sp.), Rhapidophyllum hystrix, salak palm (Salacca zalacca), sabal palm (Sabal palmetto), Sylvester palm (Phoenix sylvestris), tiger palm (Burretiokentia vieillardii), Thrinax sp., Trithrinax sp., triangle palm (Dypsis decaryi), Washington palm (Washingtonia robusta), sago palm (Cycas revoluta) and travelers palm (Ravenala madagascariensis).
We can see that coconut palms (Cocos nucifera) are part of the varied species of palm tree, indicating they are related to palm trees. However, there are differences with other coconut trees in shape, size, and the kind of fruits they give.
They are one of the various palm tree species and the most widely grown palm tree in the world. Coconut trees grow well on the sandy soil of the sea area and bear coconut fruit, one of the most popular palm fruits. So it is safe to say that coconut palm trees bear coconuts.
Some palm fruits are extremely beneficial and economically important, starting with coconuts and dates. Even though almost all fruits of the palms are edible, some of them are toxic with high levels of oxalates in them. Many palm seeds or nuts are surrounded by their fibrous, inedible fruit part.
The coconut fruit grows on coconut trees. It is a large drupe with a seed that consists of coconut meat and coconut water surrounded by the brown layer of coconut shell. The fruit of coconut is jelly-like when raw and turns fleshy when they ripen. Both coconut milk and coconut oil are extracted from coconut flesh.
Separate trees on date palms yield female and male flowers. The ripe fruits of the date palm are very sweet and are mostly consumed after drying.
Acai palms are very tall and bear fruit called Acai berries. They are rich in antioxidants and fatty acids and help with anti-aging, diabetes, skin problems.
The peach palm is a type of palm tree that produces red fruits. These juicy fruits taste delicious with a whiff of peaches.
Oil palms are one of the most economically essential palm species. The African Oil palm is a direct source of palm oil harvested from both seeds and fruits of the tree. The oil harvested from the seed is high in saturated fat and contributes to high cholesterol levels. It is commonly used in processed foods. On the other hand, the palm oil from the fruit is full of antioxidants and vitamin E and is very beneficial for health.
The betel nut from betel palm is directly associated with oral cancer, asthma, type two diabetes, hypertension, exacerbation. They are usually chewed wrapped with betel leaves for their mild hallucinogenic effects.
Another type of palm known as the snake palm produces fruit with brown scales with a tinge of edible red. The fruit skin is scaly like that of a snake's.
The jelly palm produces orange edible drupes used to make jam and jellies.
A palm species called the Chilean wine palm produces watery sap in its trunk that can be fermented into palm wine or thickened into syrup-like palm honey. It also has edible seeds.
The juicy black drupes of the saw palmetto palm were an important food for the native Americans. Nowadays, it is used as a source of prostate medication.
Apart from humans, animals also consume these fruits. They are excellent bird feeders. Parrots, as well as fox squirrels, love to consume fruits of oil palm.
Although coconut palm trees are a type of palm tree, they have distinct features and varieties. Palm trees generally live 100-150 years, whereas coconuts live 50-80 years. Coconuts grow better in a humid tropical region and cannot be grown in cold climates. The dipping temperature in winter cannot protect them from freezing, while many species of palms are native to cold areas and can tolerate very low temperatures on their own. There have been attempts to grow coconut trees in greenhouses in colder regions.
There are primarily two varieties of coconut palms, tall and dwarf cultivars. The dwarf varieties have a shorter life span and height. There are also hybrid coconuts created by intervarietal crossing with better quality fruits.
Some of the coconut species are west coast tall coconut tree, east coast tall coconut tree, Maypan coconut tree, Tiptur tall coconut tree, orange dwarf coconut tree, green dwarf coconut tree, Malyan yellow dwarf coconut tree, Fiji dwarf coconut tree, king coconut tree, VHC1 coconut tree, Macapuno coconut tree, golden Malay coconut tree, Chandrakalpa coconut tree, Jamaican tall coconut tree, and Panama tall coconut trees. One hundred fifty species of coconut trees and 2600 variants of palm trees are known now.
One tree roughly produces more than 50 coconuts per year.
The plantation of coconut palm trees starts with mixing well-drained soil with bio compost. Then the chosen pits with the embryo adequately attached to the seed are planted and covered with soil. The soil is then pressed to keep the seed safe from water stagnation and drowning to grow the trees successfully.
Coconut trees can be 196.9-82 ft (60-25 m) tall, taking the range of tall and dwarf or smaller palm trees. Their trunk doesn't grow outwards, and because of their upward growth, they tend to be quite tall. This evolutionary change also helps secure their drupes and other important parts from being the food of animals and birds. Their height allows them to disperse the dry nuts to more expansive areas for reproduction.
The palm trees are taller than the coconut trees depending on the species. They can grow up to 229.6 ft (70 m). Unlike many palms, both male and female flowers are developed on the same coconuts tree. General palm trees grow dates, berries, peach, and coconuts and produce palm oil. Coconut palm trees produce coconuts that provide coconut flesh, coconut water, coconut milk, coconut oil, and an alcoholic beverage called coconut vodka.
Coconut trees have deep grown roots with 0.4 in (1 cm) diameter, whereas palm trees have more spread roots. Palms have fan-like fronds, while most coconut trees have broad leaves. Palm trees have scaly and textured trunks, but coconut trees have very few scales. Coconuts always have a single trunk, but some palm trees have short, wide trunks, and sometimes they grow more than one adjoined trunk.
There are twelve palm trees native to Florida, the cabbage palm tree being the primary one. They bear fruits that are edible and black. But they do not produce coconuts. The heart of the Sabal palmetto is consumed as it tastes like cabbages. Hence, they are called cabbage palms.
The other palm trees that popularly grow in Florida are dwarf palmetto, needle palm, scrub palmetto, Sylvester palm, key thatch palm, Florida thatch palm, Florida silver palm, Paurotis palm, Florida cherry palm, Alexander palm, queen palm, cabbage palm, Florida royal palm, ribbon fan palm, Canary Island date palm, Chinese fan palm, and foxtail palm.
Coconut trees that produce coconut fruits are harvested in Florida. The variety is known as the Maypan coconut tree. Although coconut trees are not native to Florida, they thrive there because of the humid coastal weather.
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