Elegant Palms as Perennial Icons of the Garden
Gardening and landscaping are a boon for those who have aesthetic tastes and creative thinking. A palm in a garden always gives it an elegant look and to the landscape. Palms in the garden vary from herbaceous palms to gigantic tree palms. Palms are very characteristic in appearance and are enduring and are evergreen. They are perennial in lifespan and are the kings of the garden, in that they give shade, beauty, greenery, edible fruits, most of the utilities of hardwood trees and coolness underneath.
The word palm is for those which have a particular habit. Palms have a more or less cylindrical trunk. There is a bole underneath the trunks forming the root zone. At the top of the trunk there will be a crown of leaves in a grown-up palm in a cluster of whirled leaves forming an umbrella-like canopy. Some palms have a hand-like or fan-like shape for the leaves, by which the name would have got evolved. Some have a featherlike pinnate leaf shape. Thus a palm more or less looks like a big umbrella.
Most of the palms are emerging from the palm seeds like the coconut. However, some palms can be propagated by means of its suckers. Palm seeds have a hard shell and are slow in germination and the seedlings also grow slowly. Some palm seeds like the date palm, Caryota, talipot palm, etc need seed scarification for faster germination. Naturally, due to the production of an enormous number of seeds, there is not much problem for propagation. However, gardeners are experts in producing seedlings of palms. Palms are valuable garden plants and are commercially profitable for the seedling producer. The only drawback is that, once a person plants the seedling, he will not have to think of buying it again, as regeneration of these perennial plants is guaranteed. Palm seedling shapes may be different than the adult palms.
There are different palms depending on their habit. Some are only one to two feet height and others 15 to 20 meters in height. Towering palms give a beautiful appearance to the landscape. Some palms have pinnate leaves and some have fan-like palmate leaves, however, leaf shape is the same for one species of palm. Depending on the size of the palm, the size of the leaves also vary. They are one foot to a few meters in length. The bole produces long fibrous roots characteristic of the monocots, which are thin but up to few meters in length.
All palms belong to the family Palmaceae. This is a monocotyledonous family of plants.
Botanical name: Corypha umbraculifera
Talipot palm is a giant palm, the leaves of which are very big, up to 2 to 3 m long and traditionally are used to make umbrella in South India and therefore, these palms are also known as umbrella palms. The talipot palm flowers once in 60 years and it's inflorescence is as big as a tree. Once flowered, it is the end of the palm. It takes around a hundred days to open and mature and takes furthermore weeks to ripen and the seeds are dispersed by ejecting from the palm. Since the palm is also of great height, these seeds reach a large area through dispersion. The seeds start germinating after one year and regenerate naturally. To grow one talipot palm you need at least 100 square feet area.
At the time of emergence of the inflorescence, the trunk is full of starch. People used to collect the pith by cutting the palm, pounding it and extracting starch powder. So, if you have to extract the starch, you must kill the palm, so the seed production will not happen. Since people get quintals of starch from a single palm, in olden days, due to scarcity of food, people used to do hard work to cut and extract it. But, nowadays, there is plenty of rice and wheat available and labour charges for tree cutting are high. Therefore, there is scope for the regeneration of the talipot palm. Palm starch is also available in the market, which is highly nutritious. You may enjoy it by adding some flavours to it.
Botanical name: Cocos nucifera
Coconut palms are grown in plantations. We can obtain seedlings commercially from the nurseries. There are two types of coconut palms, namely, tall palms and dwarf palms. Coconut palms and coconuts find the use as a tree and as a fruit for a health-drink. Coconut palms are also grown in gardens. Yellow, orange or red coconuts also are looking good in the gardens. Read more on coconut in my other article: "Coconut Palm Growing Countries and the World Coconut Day".
Botanical name: Areca catechu
Arecanut palms are slender trunked palms growing into great heights of around 40 to 50 feet. These are cultivated in plantations and nuts are used for chewing. Arecanut seedlings are commercially available from the nurseries. These can be grown as container plants also, up to two years. They can grow in shaded places also without any problems.
Botanical name: Phoenix dactylifera
Date palms are the palms of the desert. These dates are very delicious fruits. This palm is commercially grown in the Arabian countries and Rajasthan of India and other hot topics. These can be grown as elegant palms in the gardens, but it may not flower and fruit unless the environment is favourable.
Botanical name: Elaes guiniensis
Oil palms are elegant drooping leaved large palms of the garden, at the same time are fruit-bearing and oil yielders. These have leaf base retention around the trunk and therefore are not climbable type. These need a very long pole for harvesting the fruit. Fruits are oil yielding. Oil palms are cultivated in plantations.
Botanical name: Areca lutescens
These are common garden palms and are small and can be grown in containers. These are herbaceous and are suitable for growing indoors. Placing areca palms in the corridors and living rooms are adding value to the places. These are usually kept in good containers in the reception areas.
Botanical name: Roystonea regia
Royal palms are having characteristics trunk shape. These are the traditional palms of many gardens. Some of the mansions have a row of these palms, giving a great look to the landscape. These palms are also grown by sides of paths in a row, decorating the ways.
Botanical name: Saribus rotundifolius
It is a tall palm with a characteristic fan-like leaf. These are having trunks similar to the coconut palms When grown to a certain height, these palms look very nice.
Botanical name: Caryota urens
Fishtail palm or Caryota palm is seen in the wild. Caryota palm fruits are the feed for bats and birds. These palms also grow as much as the coconut palms. These palms have large bunches of inflorescence, which hang down with a lot of fruits. Children eat fruits because these are sweet. It is very nice to see the hanging bunches of the flowers and fruits.
Botanical name: Ravanella madagascariensis
These palms have banana-like leaves with flat, bilateral fan-like crown. Unlike the other palms, this has a flat crown.
Botanical name: Cyrtostachys renda
It is called red palm because its fronds are red in appearance. These are elegant with red colour and hence are very valuable as garden plants.
Botanical name: Livistonea chinensis
China palms can be grown in the garden as well as in the pots. These are raised from the seeds as well as from the suckers. Because of the reddish fronds look very attractive.
Botanical name: Areca triandra
These are ornamental as well as commercial farms. Very attractive red flowers of the size of the dates. Distance generated from its seeds as well as from the suckers.
Botanical name: Borassus flabellifer
Toddy palms are very large. They grow over 60 feet in height. They have spines in the fronds. Fruits are edible very delicious before maturity. Young inflorescence a lot of inflorescence sap. Snap is very nutritious and upon fermentation from toddy.
In every garden, palms have their own role. They are iconic and create an identity of their presence.
wood of the most farms is used for construction purpose. Because of the presence of thick fibres, the wood days not referred for preparing fine carvings. Most like coconut palm very useful, which part you may consider. Most palm leaves are used for thatching.
People easily get confused between the ferns cycads and the palms which are all different. The phones are very primitive and are grown in an evergreen forest. Cycads are mostly grown in gardens such as cycas. Cycads are the gymnosperm category of plants. The palms are advanced angiosperms the monocotyledonous group.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Halemane Muralikrishna