There are so many more palm tree uses than just providing shade for you on a hot Caribbean beach.
It is one of the most widely used trees on the planet.
There are lots of different kinds used in commercial growing operations.
Everything on the tree- even some roots-is reused in some way, shape of form.
There's even a form of paper made from them.
Palm Tree Paper
Palm trees are large fruit producers, the 2 main edible ones are of course coconut and date.
The highly productive date palm is used for a lot more than just growing the delicious fruit.
Coconut trees can produce fruit for upwards of 70 years, before the farmers will replace them in the groves/orchards.
But the other uses for various types of palm tree fruit are for oil, biodiesel, wax, jelly, wine and palm heart for salads.
Now there's what is called vegetable ivory being made from the seed of a palm in South America. That's a renewable resource I think we can all live with. Here's an article explaining.
Even natural health supplements like Saw Palmetto and the Acai berry come from palm trees.
Products containing the Acai berry or juice are a hot commodity right now in healthy eating and weight loss categories.
Plus there's the Pindo palm that is well known for the jelly and wine people make from their fruit. There's also the juice of the toddy palm used to make what the natives of southeast Asia call "sky beer". Here's a related article with some really good pictures.
We’ll even eat a coconut sprout right out of the shell and then make decorations, jewelry and lampshades out of the shell when we are done.
You can't speak about palm tree uses unless we talk about the different ways the various leaves are utilized.
Here in the Dominican, when we had all our trees pruned, the farmer that has his livestock behind our place asked our guys to throw over all the leaves.
It had been a bit dry in the previous few weeks, so his animals-cows, horses, pigs, goats and sheep all came running up to the fence for the fresh cut leaves.
They were a lot greener than anything they had eaten in awhile.
Wherever palm trees are grown, their leaves are eaten by the animals of the area.
Hut above has just been built.
You can see the leaves are still green.
Palm leaves make great roofs because of their size- the ones from coconut or royal palm in the feather leaf category.
Some of the larger fan varieties like many of the thatch palms(that's why they call them that because of the thatch roofs.)
The roofs made out of these giant leaves can last anywhere from 5-10 years depending on the weather of course.
comes time to redo the roof it’s not very expensive with the abundance of trees in the area.
Other palm tree uses for leaves are, to produce a different kind of oil and wax from those produced from the fruit.
The Puerto Rican hat palm is famous for it's leaves being made into the best quality "straw" hats.
Many different leaves are also used in weaving everything from furniture, to decorations and place-mats.
Most importantly they do provide the best shade spot whether you are in the desert or on the beach.
Now we come to palm tree trunks.
There are cultures that make sugar out of the sap of the sugar palm tree.
It's collected very similar to the way we get sap for maple syrup
from maple trees but its then fermented into the sugary drink called "toddy."
After a coconut tree has gone beyond its productive years, the tree is chopped down.
The trunks were considered garbage and tossed away most of the time. Not anymore!
Now the wood is harvested from them making some excellent flooring and siding.
The wood is extremely hard
once cured, or dried. Harder than oak by far.
It can be anywhere from blonde to black in color depending on location and growing conditions.
In the Philippines they are realizing the potential. Many folks and the government are using the wood from the felled 16,000,000 coconut palms to rebuild after typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
This is some of the best wax available for scented candles.
It is soft in texture and holds fragrance easily.
The super tall wax palms of Columbia have their fruits harvested for this purpose.
There are sealing wax palms too, as in the wax used for sealing important documents.
But unfortunately these trees where apparently named that because they had the same color as the wax used back in the day.
Not actually because they were used to make the wax. I'm not too sure about that.
Do you think they were named just because of the color or because of their usefulness?
The last of the palm tree uses I'll talk about is the palm heart.
It is the very inner core at the top of the trunk where the leaves are formed-often call the crown or the bud.
If you take out the heart of a palm tree and eat it-which is exactly what some cultures do-then you kill the tree.
We can’t live without our heart; well neither can the palm.
Some species are harvested for
just this purpose and are going extinct. Others are grown commercially in orchards or plantations.
Palms are one of the fastest growing, renewable resources we have today.
The many varieties have served humans for thousands of years and will continue to do so well into the future.
If there are any palm tree uses I might have missed let me know. I'll be happy include it here.
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Articles others have found useful:
Commercial palms explains the trees commonly used by nurseries, orchards and plantations.
Background takes a look back in history at just how long these trees have been around.
Here's some fruit producing trees you may like to include in your landscape:
Indoor palms lists the best ones to grow in you home or office year round.