Palm trees are a common tree in tropical and subtropical climates, but what do you know about them as a resource? If you want to learn what palm trees are good for and why those things are important, let’s start with the basics.
Palm trees can produce oil, lumber, woven materials, multiple food sources, drinks, insulation, and so much more. In many regions, palm trees are a vital resource used in everyday life, often for a plethora of these purposes. Along with being extremely useful, they are a beautiful sight.
Before we dive deeper into the properties of a palm tree, let’s quickly talk about the types of palm trees and what you may expect from them. Let’s get a move on!
What Are Palm Trees?
While there are over 2600 species of palm trees, the gist is the same when it comes to this type of tree.
Most commonly, palm trees produce dates or coconuts, but peaches and acai could even grow on some species of palms.
These woody perennials have a single stem and often get quite tall, being classified as a tree once they reach 20 feet tall or more.
These basic facts are great, but we know the real reason you are here… what are they good for?
Follow along, and we’ll tell you all about it!
9 Of The Things Palm Trees Are Good For
Okay, so you may know palm trees produce fruit, but what type? You may think of these trees as a provider of shade on a tropical island or have seen them as they line the streets of Los Angeles in every movie, well, ever.
We want to tell you about some of the lesser-known benefits and uses of palm trees as they are utilized by people all around the world!
These trees are pretty darn cool and we’re excited to share with you what makes them so great.
They Produce Fruits Like Coconuts And Dates
You may automatically think of coconuts when you think of palm trees, right? Of course, this tropical tree will have a coconut or two hanging from its canopy. You will also notice coconut trees are planted slightly away from each other so they can thrive.
In cartoons, a coconut falls from a palm tree and hits someone and in TV shows about deserted islands, the main characters always find coconuts to sustain them.
Coconuts and palm trees must go hand in hand!
While this is true, it’s specific to coconut palms, a specific subset of palm trees. Other types of palm trees can produce other types of fruit.
Isn’t A Coconut Not A Fruit?
As a quick note before we dive further into the other fruits that a palm tree may produce, we want to remind you about the fact that coconuts are a fruit, but they are also technically a seed, and also can be categorized as a nut.
Officially, this food falls under the designation of ‘drupe’, so there is a hard fruit enclosed in a hard and stony covering.
Palm Trees Produce Many Edible Fruits Besides Coconuts
According to Palomar College, there are many edible palm fruits you may find, depending on the type of palm tree you are most often around.
While the coconut palm, cocos nucifera, produces coconuts, there are also pejibaye palm, date palm, African oil palm, jelly palm, and more types of palm trees.
Pejibaye Palm Fruit
When it comes to food, the pejibaye palm, bactris gasipaes, can be found in its native Costa Rica. It is often referred to as the peach palm because of the peach-like clusters of fruit that can be derived from this species.
Date Palm Fruit
Native to desert regions of Northern Africa, the date palm, Phoenix dactylifera, receives water from springs or underground sources and produces the dates that are becoming so popular as an alternative to sugars and sweeteners.
Date syrup, date sugar, and dates themselves are a wonderful way to fulfill your sweet tooth without making candy or using lots of corn-syrup products.
Dates are nutritious and delicious, creating a great snack that you can buy almost anywhere. Try these Natural Delights Pitted Medjool Dates and try them for yourself!
Jelly Palm Fruit
The jelly palm, butia capitata, is native to Brazil and produces yellow-orange drupes (yep, there’s that word again!) not dissimilar to a coconut but whose flavor and texture are most comparable to that of an apricot.
Jelly palm drupes are most often used to make jellies or jams, along with desserts like cakes, pies, cobblers, and other sweet treats.
Of course, this can always be eaten fresh and enjoyed as its own treat, as well!
You may have heard of this one, and wonder about the controversy surrounding it. We’ll let you do your own research, but deforestation is the biggest concern with this one.
Palm oil itself is a great product that is used in many other food products, detergents, cosmetics, and ever so slightly in the biofuel industry.
According to Wellesley College, the issue lies in the increasing demand for this efficient and widely used vegetable oil.
Still, palm oil is one of the primary products consumed around the world that comes from palm trees, so it would be remiss of us to not acknowledge its incredible uses.
It has been noted as one of the most common vegetable oils and, though it is used in food consumption in the United States, its most noteworthy contribution is to the cosmetics industry where it is used to create the texture of makeup products loved and used by so many.
Palm oil is something that we all use, whether or not we always realize it.
Palm Leaves Have A Variety Of Uses
Falling palm tree leaves causing you an issue? Not to worry, we have a solution for that!
Fallen palm leaves are the perfect natural product to turn into mulch that is not only durable and long-lasting but will save you from loads of extra cleanup or transferring fallen leaves to a compost area.
Palm fronds (leaves) decompose slowly, so they are a great option for creating palm thatch roofs. These can be used for sheds and other outdoor spaces, but when properly created, can even work for homes.
In fact, there are regions of certain countries that primarily use palm thatch roofing as a standard practice. We’ll talk more about construction soon, though.
Palm fronds can grow to be quite large, and are used in many places as a method of shading crops, shading outdoor gathering spaces, or creating a canopy over a porch. This is done in the same way you may often see canvas cloth used on the back deck of homes.
Garden fencing is another thing that can be created by using sticks, palm fronds, and bits of wire or even strips of other palm fronds to tie the fencing structure into place.
In places like Belize, it is very common to make woven baskets and other products from the leaves of a palm tree, which leads us to how crafts and other goods can come from these trees.
If you’re wondering, tropical palm trees can only grow in certain places.
Crafts And Goods Using Palm Tree Products
Basket weaving is a common practice around the world, where many materials and natural resources are used.
Palm fronds make a great, durable, and easy-to-use material for basket weaving. If we can use them for roofs, we can use them for baskets and other household goods.
Feeling crafty? You can always use palm fronds to create floral arrangements for events. Place the fronds as the centerpieces on a table or attach them to doorways to add a beautiful green color and an appealing texture to your event.
There are also many tutorials and classes on how to braid palm fronds to create ornaments, placeholders, fun children’s crafts, and more.
As useful as palm fronds are in daily settings and, for more functional purposes, they can also offer a fun way to make some crafts that will last or to create containers for the home.
You can even buy utensils like these palm wood spoons for a cheap, sustainable product that’ll last.
Palm Trees Aid In Wax Production
Remember how palm trees can produce beverages and oils? Well, that oil can turn into wax with the proper processing.
Palm wax is most typically gathered from Brazil and countries in Southeast Asia, where many palm trees are native to the regions.
According to NC State University, palm wax is made from the oil that is extracted from palm leaves or fruit.
Essentially, the oil is extracted first from the tree before it undergoes processes of sterilization and clarification. Then it is purified and ready to be sold or distributed as a wax.
Palm Trees Are Used To Heat Homes
In some parts of the world, the oil from palm trees is used as fuel to heat homes.
This is a good practice because there is less smoke and, also, less carbon residue.
While fuel production from palm oil is not something that likely affects you on an individual level, this is a big part of the use of palm trees on a global scale at the moment.
Now, palm wood heat efficiency is a whole other story and it’s not one of the best firewoods.
Palm Wood Is Used In Construction
So, like we mentioned a few sections up, palm fronds decompose slowly, which makes them a prime option for roofing of any type. Needing a roof over your chicken coop? Here’s a cheap, natural option.
However, if you are interested in how you can use palm trees while constructing your home, don’t overlook palm thatch roofing.
These can last quite a few years and you’ll either want to call an expert or watch at least 5 hours of online videos before attempting this for a home. It can be the right environmentally sound option for anyone looking to be as sustainable as possible.
Palm tree timber is often used in homes and boats in Southeast Asia, and especially its surrounding islands.
Palm Trees Can Be Used As Insulation
Panels created from palm trees are not only great construction materials but they are also used for many types of insulation.
Whether you are hoping to create a sound barrier for a room or studio or keep your space regulated temperature-wise, this could be a splendid choice.
Palm panels are eco-friendly, lightweight, and can add a cool look to a space if you’re thinking about the visuals.
Create a lightweight door that keeps sound in and heat out, for example, and you’ll be set!
That’s All We’ve Got!
Alright, that’s a wrap for today.
Remember that palm trees are an incredible type of tree and can be used for a myriad of reasons.
Whether you’re looking into home decor, home construction, food, drinks, or fuel, palm trees are a contender for your next selection.
You can drink some palm wine while eating a coconut pie, sitting in a palm wood chair under your palm frond roof, next to your woven palm basket while you look past your open palm-paneled door to the beach where a live palm tree lives. If you want, that is.
So, the next time you see a palm tree, keep in mind that it is good for many reasons, including but not limited to:
- Fruit and Drupe Production
- Palm Oil
- Leaves with Many Properties and Uses
- Wax Production
- Heat Production
- Crafts and Goods
This incredible tree has so many uses in indigenous and local communities in the regions the different species originate from, and we can always look to see how we may better utilize palm trees and all they offer us (aside from their general beauty and ambiance, of course.)
Thank you for sticking with us as usual!
I hope this article helps you understand the uses and importance of palm trees.
For now, good luck continuing along your own tree journey. See you next time!
Ali, M. E., & Alabdulkarem, A. (2017). On thermal characteristics and microstructure of a new insulation material extracted from date palm trees surface fibers. Construction and Building Materials, 138, 276-284.
Awad, S., Zhou, Y., Katsou, E., Li, Y., & Fan, M. (2021). A critical review on date palm tree (Phoenix Dactylifera L.) fibres and their uses in bio-composites. Waste and Biomass Valorization, 12(6), 2853-2887.
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