Palm trees come from a family of plants called Arecaceae, and although you may have a vivid image in your mind of a classic tropical beach scene, you may not know that there are actually over 2000 different kinds growing in hot climates all over the world, from rainforests to deserts.
In fact, palm trees are among the most beneficial plants in tropical countries, because of their wide geographical distribution and many uses.
1. Palm Oil
Palm Oil is a widely-used edible vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of oil palm trees, and its versatile uses make it often referred to as a ‘miracle ingredient’ for so many products. Accounting for one-third of global plant oil production, you can find palm oil in just about anything, from pizza dough to washing detergent. It’s also a major player in beauty products including palm kernel oil for body lotions, or bleached palm oil for soap.
One major beneficial use of the oil, however, is its frequent use as a base for mixing medicine such as cough syrups. It has also been associated with high vitamin A, lowering the body’s cholesterol and reducing the likelihood of major illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.
One example would be Palm wine, also known as palm toddy" or "toddy’. This is a sweet and milky alcoholic beverage produced from the fermentation of sap of different palm species, including Palmyra, date palms, and coconut palms. Using a knife or machete, an incision is made between the tree’s kernels, allowing for the sap to ooze out. Fermentation begins soon after the sap begins flowing, and within just 1-2 hours, the alcohol content can reach up to 4%. Just one of the many amazing, and interesting palm tree uses.
Not only is it a tasty and popular beverage choice in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, it also poses major health benefits, from increased eye health with thanks to the Vitamin C content, and the prevention of cancer cells with the presence of riboflavin (B2).
3. Construction & Crafts
Palm trees are regularly used as constructive building material for house walls, rafters and roofing. The fibrous wood is pulled apart and woven together to produce thatch for roof coverings, and logs for bridges. The fiber can also be woven to make carpet and wall coverings, as well as practical household items such as brooms, baskets and even furniture.
4. Wax Some of the best wax available for scented candles come from palms. This is because palm wax is an all-natural, renewable and environmentally-friendly resource that offers more choice for candle makers who are looking to market more sustainable products. Not only that, it makes for excellent results.
Due to its natural climates, palm wax resists melting in hot weather, has a high contraction, and takes colors easily. Best of all, it holds and emits fragrances well for up to 50% longer, compared to candles made of paraffin wax.
Forget the oil, the wood and fruit; palm leaves (or palm fronds) have a diverse range of uses alone, from roof thatch, garden fencing and weaving to fuel and nutritional feed for livestock.
The decaying leaves, wood from the stems and fiber can also be put to one side to be used as mulch.
It’s easy to see why palm trees are one of the most useful and renewable resources we have today. The diversity of different species have aided us for infinite uses over thousands of years, and will continue to do so for thousands more.