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Large and unique assortment
Quick delivery all over Europe
Your specialist in exotic plants and trees

Palm trees

Palm trees

Palmea, the palm tree family

ARECACEA, otherwise known as Palmea, is a family consisting of more than 5000 species of plants. All belong to the monocot order, meaning that as seedlings the plants have a single leaf (cotyledon), as opposed to plants of the bicot order, which have two leaves as seedlings and are called dicotyledons. The monocot order is further divided into six families:

  • Coryphoideae - lobed leaves, solitary flowers
  • Calamoideae - includes climbing palms such as Rattans
  • Nypoideae - only one palm, Nypa fruticans which has a floating seed
  • Ceroxyloideae - beautiful spiral flowers
  • Arecoideae - the largest family, it contains more than 100 genera. These palms have pinnate (pointed) leaves and flowers arranged in groups of three
  • Phytelephotoideae - distinct monopodial flower clusters

Fan (palmate) palms and feather (pinnate) palms

Palm trees are to be found worldwide in two types. The most widespread, occurring throughout desert regions but also high in the Himalayan mountains is the fan palm. Their leaves usually consist of a long stem (petiole) coming off the trunk at the end of which is a more or less circular fan of leaves. A feather palm actually has many individual leaflets on the stem (petiole), which gives the leaf a feathery look.

Butyagrus, a feather palm, left and right, a fan palm, Trachycarpus wagnerianus

Palm names

The meaning of many names can be derived from their Latin/Greek or other language roots. Here are a few of the best known:

  • Trachycarpus means "rough fruit"
  • Brahea doesn"t mean anything, it"s simply a name!
  • The meaning of Butia was originally "spiny".
  • Latin names ending in "ii" or "ensis" often mean that the plant originates from a particular area, for example "Phoenix canariensis" originates from the Canary Islands.

To help you further we have compiled a table of palm names, prefixes and suffices - see Palm names.

The history of palm trees

Palm fossil from the Cretacious period

It was about 80 million years ago in the late Cretacious period that palms first appeared, according to fossil records. About 60 million years ago the first modern species made their appearance and were instantly widespread and succesful. Palms have always been immensely useful to mankind. Their first recorded practical use was the Date palm, producing dates which were used as an easily preservable source of nourishment during long desert journeys. And of course coconuts have been consumed since time immemorial. Rattan palms are used extensively for furniture making and basket making, and these days palms such as Elais are providing a reneweable source of oil for transport and heating. We drink palm wine, use palms as dyes and of course extract starch in the form of Sago. Such a beautiful and useful plant has of course acquired a huge significance for mankind; it is extensively referenced in the Bible and the Koran and the romans associated it with Victoria, the godess of victory.