Never Knew about Palm Trees
For most people, the words “palm tree” are synonymous with exquisitely beautiful Caribbean vacations and the intoxicating sensation of sun-kissed skin. But palm trees actually have a rich history dating back to biblical times and are used for a wide variety of applications even in today’s society.
Palm trees exist in more than 2,500 difference species that live in deserts, rainforests, and everywhere in between. They grow in the form of shrubs, long woody vines, and the common trees that most people recognize. While California and Florida are known as the most popular places for palm trees, they actually grow best throughout many states where the temperatures don’t regularly fall below freezing. Some palms can even grow up to 200 feet tall, like Columbia’s national Quindio wax palm.
You may be familiar with Palm Sunday, but did you ever make the connection? The people of Jerusalem cut branches from palm trees in order to line the street to welcome Jesus royally as the Messiah. But religious significance extends to the Quran and Judaism as well, with palms representing peace and abundance in the Jewish tradition. Archeologists have discovered that Mesopotamians relied on the date palm for food, while the Romans utilized palm branches to signify triumph in battle.
Palm trees are one of the most beneficial and important plants in tropical countries because of their practical everyday uses. Many common staples come from palm trees, like coconuts, dates, and the aptly named palm oil. They can grow fruit for about 70 years before needing to be replaced! Acai fruit and saw palmetto are two popular nutritional supplements that are also taken from palm trees. The leaves of the trees can even be used in homemade fans, thatched roofs, and “straw” hats, while the wood is commonly utilized to make baskets, harvest sugar, and even replace standard wood since it is harder than oak once dried.
The next palm tree that you see, you’ll now know it can do much more than look magnificent on a white sand beach.