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[[{{{domain}}}]] > [[{{{superregnum}}}]] > Plantae > [[{{{subregnum}}}]] > [[{{{superdivisio}}}]] > [[{{{superphylum}}}]] > [[]] > [[{{{phylum}}}]] > [[{{{subdivisio}}}]] > [[{{{subphylum}}}]] > [[{{{infraphylum}}}]] > [[{{{microphylum}}}]] > [[{{{nanophylum}}}]] > [[{{{superclassis}}}]] > [[]] > [[{{{subclassis}}}]] > [[{{{infraclassis}}}]] > [[{{{superordo}}}]] > [[]] > [[{{{subordo}}}]] > [[{{{infraordo}}}]] > [[{{{superfamilia}}}]] > [[]] > [[{{{subfamilia}}}]] > [[{{{supertribus}}}]] > [[{{{tribus}}}]] > [[{{{subtribus}}}]] > [[{{{genus}}}]] {{{subgenus}}} {{{sectio}}} {{{series}}} {{{species}}} {{{subspecies}}} var. {{{cultivar}}}

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Palmaceae (from the Latin name palma). Palm Family. Woody plants of various habit, low, or arborescent, or climbing, usually unbranched, sometimes spinescent: leaves forming a crown at summit of stem except in Calamus, alternate, coriaceous, palmately or pinnately veined, entire or pinnatifid or palmatifid, often very large: inflorescence a simple or much-branched spadix, with or without a subtending spathe, the latter often woody; flowers unisexual, rarely bisexual, often sunk in the spadix; perianth of 6 parts in 2 series, greenish, often woody, valvate in the staminate, imbricated or convolute in the pistillate flower; stamens 6, rarely 3 or many, on or around a disk, separate or united; carpels 3, rarely fewer, separate or forming a 1-3-celled ovary; each cell 1-ovuled, but all except one seed in the ovary may abort; stigmas usually 3: fruit a berry or drupe; pericarp fleshy or fibrous; seeds albuminous.

Palmaceae has 128 genera and about 1,000 species of tropical distribution; 10-15 species are found in the southern United States. The largest genera are Calamus with about 200 species, Bactris with 90 species and Chamaedorea with 60 species. The family is very distinct, having no close relatives, but it evidently belongs to the spathe- and spadix-bearing group. The habit, coriaceous plicate leaves which are entire in the bud, the woody flowers and inflorescence, the 3 sepals and 3 petals, the usually 6 stamens, and the 3 carpels, each with 1 seed, are together distinctive.

Palm leaves are always entire in the bud, and if later pinnatifid or palmatifid, become so on unfolding. In this respect the palms are unique. The leaves are plicate in the bud, and, on opening, the plates of the fan expand and either remain united or, more frequently, split down along the folds. In the pinnate species the rachis between the folds elongates so that the divisions are separated, and the well-known palm leaf is produced. The splitting may be at the top of the fold, or at the bottom, depending on the genus, and is an important characteristic in classification. Some of the largest seeds in the plant kingdom belong to the Palmaceae, as, for example, the coconut. This fruit is produced from an originally 3-celled ovary, 2 cells of which abort.

Next to the grasses, the palms are the most generally useful of all plants. It is said that probably there is not a species but that is useful in some way. Many yield textile fibers. The wood is used to build houses and the leaves to thatch the roofs. The leaves are also made into mats, baskets, hats, and the like. The fibrous bud-sheaths are used as hats, or for fiber. Some species contain starch or sugar in the trunk. The fruits of many contain sugar, protein, starch, or oil. Comparatively few are medicinal. "The palm is called King of Plants and is said to supply all the wants of an inhabitant of the tropical zone. It yields sugar, milk, solid cream, wine, vinegar, oil, cordage, cloth, cups, wood for building, thatch and other products." Coconuts, the fruit of Cocos nucifera, form one of the most important foods of the tropics. The date fruit (Phoenix dactylifera of the Sahara) is also important. Metroxylon Rumphii, and other species, yield sago. A fermented liquor known as palm wine, laymi or arrack, is made from the juice of Arenga saccharifera, Borassus flabelliformis, Metroxylon Rumphii, Mauritia vinifera, and others. The central bud of the cabbage palm and others is used for food. Most palm oil is from the fruit of Elaeis guineensis of West Africa, which is now cultivated in America. It is used like olive oil, or in the North for making soap. Vegetable wax is obtained from the leaves and stems of Ceroxylon andicolum of Peru, also from Copernicia cerifera (carnauba wax). The famous giant double coconut is from Lodoicea sechellarum of the Seychelle Islands. The fruit of Areca Catechu of the East Indies and India yields an astringent juice which, mixed with the leaves of the betel pepper and lime, is chewed by the inhabitants of tropical Asia. Coconut fiber is important for making ship cables. The very slender stems of Calamus, often 300 feet or even 500 feet long (it is reported 1,200 or 1,800 feet, but not verified) and scarcely larger than a pipe-stem or a finger, are called rattan, and used for furniture. Much of the dragon's blood of the druggists is the red juice of the fruit of Calamus Draco. Palm-leaf fans are made from the palmately veined leaves of several species. The saw palmetto (Sabal serrulata) of the southern states is medicinal. The seeds of Phytelephas macrocarpa have a very hard endosperm known as vegetable ivory, used for carving as a substitute for ivory.

Probably 100 genera are in the trade. Except in the tropics, they are almost entirely ornamental greenhouse plants. Among these are: Areca (Betel Nut); Attalea; Bactris; Calamus; Caryota (Fish-tail Palm, Wine Palm, Toddy Palm); Ceroxylon (Wax Palm); Chamaedorea; Cocos (Coco Palm, Coconut, Pindo Tree); Corypha (Talipot Palm); Daemonorops; Elaeis (Oil Palm); Erythea (Blue Palm); Geonoma; Hedyscepe (Umbrella Palm); Howea (Flat Palm, Thatch Leaf Palm, Curly Palm); Livistona; Oreodoxa (Royal Palm, Cabbage Palm); Phoenix (Date Palm); Phytelephas (Ivory Palm); Rhapis; Rhapidophyllum (Blue Palmetto, Needle Palmetto); Sabal (Dwarf Palmetto, Blue Palm, Cabbage Palmetto); Serenaea (Saw Palmetto); Thrinax; Trachycarpus (Fortune's Palm); Washingtonia or Pritchardia (Weeping Palm).CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



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