All palm trees produce coconuts

Palm trees

We know palm trees mainly from our vacation in the south. They provide people with coconuts, dates, oil, as well as stems and leaves. You can build something with it.

Palms are plants that we know from southern countries. They usually have a tall trunk where the leaves have fallen off. There are only leaves on top. The leaves look like fans or like bird feathers. Certain palms carry oil fruits, coconuts or dates.

Palms can be very different. For the biologists, the palms form a family. It contains 183 genera and 2600 different species. Palms are frontrunners: the longest leaf in nature is a palm leaf 25 meters long. The heaviest seed in the world also comes from a palm tree and weighs 22 kilograms. The longest flower shoot measures seven and a half meters and also grows on a palm tree.

Most palm trees are found in tropical rainforests, but also in places where there is less water. They also grow in the subtropics, for example around the Mediterranean. They exist as far as the Alps, for example in Ticino in Switzerland. But they also grow in areas with a particularly warm climate north of the Alps, for example in Canton Uri. The warm wind there, the hair dryer, makes life possible.

How do palm trees grow?

Palm flowers can look very different. These are yellow.

Palms are very different. They can grow up to sixty meters high or stay very low. Some stand individually, others in groups. Some bloom several times in their life, others only once, then they die.

Palms are not trees. Your trunk only becomes thicker where it grows in length, i.e. always on top. Nor is it made of a real wood. One therefore only says that the trunk is "lignified". Palm trunks are always rather thin.

In a few palms, the flowers contain the male and female parts like our apples, peaches and most berries and fruits. In most palm species, the flowers are male or female. One makes use of this in the date plantations: You plant only two or three male palms for every hundred female palms. Workers then climb a male palm and collect the inflorescences. Then they climb on the female plants and fertilize the flowers there.

Most palm trees need little fertilizer in the soil. It is like that in the jungle, but also in the desert. The palm trees in the rainforest can withstand a lot of water. The palm trees in the oases are content with less water. You don't need rain. Groundwater is enough for them because they have very deep roots. There are even more of these species than there are in the humid areas.

Which foods do palm trees provide?

Around 100 species of palm bear edible fruits. Almost only two of them are known to us. We buy the dates with or without a core and usually eat them like that, sometimes filled with marzipan or other things. The second is the coconut. You usually buy your pulp from us in dried and shredded small pieces to bake something with. There are also plenty of ready-made pastries with desiccated coconut in them. You can also make coconut fat from the pulp, which we often need for frying. Margarine also often contains fat from coconuts.

The palmyra palm occurs much more often in the world. You can always cut a thin slice from its male flowers and press it into a juice that contains a lot of sugar. You can boil it down and get a special sugar. You can also let the juice ferment, so that alcohol is produced. It's a palm wine.

Palm oil is obtained from the oil palm. Their fruits are about five inches long and three inches thick. About half of the pulp consists of oil that can be squeezed out. That makes palm oil. Half of the kernels also consist of oil, from which palm kernel oil is pressed. A palm tree grows around twenty kilograms of fruit every year. Palm oil in itself is a good thing. No other plant can harvest so much oil in the same area. The problem is that huge rainforests are being cut down to create palm oil plantations. Most of this happens in Malaysia and Indonesia.

There are parts from the inside of the trunk at the top of the palm that can be eaten. They are called "palm heart" or "palm heart". To do this, however, you have to fell the palm, because it would no longer grow. Palm heart is obtained mainly in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Palm hearts are often won when the jungle is cleared.

Which building materials do palm trees provide?

A palm leaf style roof in East Timor.

In many countries houses are built from the trunks. The residents cover the roofs with the stems of palm leaves. They keep the water out very well if you stack them up properly. In the past, in Europe, roofs were covered with straw or reeds in a very similar way.

The rattan palms provide thin shoots with which one can braid very well. We know the rattan furniture from the shop. In the craft shop, the shoots are usually called "rattan cane". It can be used to weave baskets, seats for chairs or entire seating furniture. Since we do not grow rattan palms, shoots from willow were used in the past. We used to take care of this tree precisely for this purpose.

What else are palm trees good for?

Palms are important to the soil. They hold the earth together with their roots. So neither wind nor rain can carry the earth away.

Palm trees remind us of the vacation in the south, maybe that's why people like them so much. Palm trees are therefore often planted in pots. They can then be set up outside in summer and moved to a warmer place in winter. There are also palm species in pots that can be kept indoors all year round.

  • Coconuts hang close together in the palm tree.

  • The Seychelles palm bears the heaviest seeds in the world.

  • Palm hearts can be eaten.