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Palm Trees - Uses And Locations

from: Henry Gallant

Palm trees, scientifically known as Arecaceae or Palmae, are
trees belonging to a family of monocot flowering plants. There
are approximately 2,600 different species of palm trees, the
majority of which are native to tropical or subtropical
climates. Some well-known trees that belong to this group
include coconut trees, rattan trees, and date palm trees.

Uses of palm trees

Palm trees have many uses. Palm tree sap is sometimes fermented
in order to produce palm wine, or palm toddy. To make palm wine
from the sap of palm trees, the sap is first collected by
cutting between the tree kernels. A container is placed below
the cut to collect the sap, a process that takes one or two
days. The sap begins fermenting immediately and creates a wine
within two hours. If the palm sap is allowed to sit too long,
however, it turns into vinegar.

Heart of palm is also derived from several species of palm
trees. Heart of palm is also referred to as swamp cabbage, palm
heart, or palmito. Heart of palm is a vegetable harvested from
palm trees. Because the vegetable is taken from the inner core
of the palm trees, however, it kills the tree when it is
harvested. Therefore, it is quite costly and salads in which it
is added are often referred to as "millionaire salad."

In addition, oil palms belonging to the genus Elaeis are used to
produce palm oil. This form of vegetable oil is obtained from
the palm tree's fruit. The edible form of palm oil is extracted
from the pulp of the fruit. This is what is generally referred
to as "palm oil" or "edible oil." This oil is generally reddish
in color and contains high levels of carotenoids. It is most
often used in margarine or in cooking oil.

"Palm kernel oil" is derived from the kernel of palm trees. This
oil is not edible, but is used mostly to make soap. Palm kernel
oil contains olefins and lauric acid. Both forms of palm oil
also contain a large amount of tocotrienol, which is part of the
Vitamin E family.

Palm trees in the United States

Very few palm trees are capable of tolerating severe cold. The
hardiest palm trees include the Trachycarpus, which is native to
eastern Asia, and the Rhapidophyllum, which is from southwestern
United States.

Other palm trees are native to warmer climates in the United
States, such as California, Florida, and southern California
where a tropical climate is prevalent. Other states with
Mediterranean climates, such as the Gulf coast states of
Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and southern Georgia also
are home to native palm trees. Some desert states, such as
Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah are also home to some
species of palm trees.

In addition, the Atlantic coast of South Carolina contains
numerous palm trees, earning the state the nickname of "Palmetto

Palm trees have also been known to grow as far north as Arkansas
and Maryland in the United States, as well as along the Pacific
Coast to Washington and Oregon. Some species of palm trees have
also been successfully transplanted to states as far north as
New Jersey.

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