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Elegant Palms as Perennial Icons of the Garden

Updated on October 20, 2019
hmkrishna profile image

The author is postgraduate in Botany and experienced in IPR handling as well as agribusiness management with an MBA, lives in a farmhouse.

Palms

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.

Rare flowering in a talipot palm - Corypha umbraculifera
Rare flowering in a talipot palm - Corypha umbraculifera

Palm propagation

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.

Talipot palm

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.

Corypha flowers in millions
Corypha flowers in millions

Coconut palm

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".

Tall and dwarf coconut palms
Tall and dwarf coconut palms

Arecanut palm

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.

An arecanut plantation of South India
An arecanut plantation of South India

Date palm

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.

A date palm tree
A date palm tree

Oil palm

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.

The oil palm
The oil palm

Areca palm

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.

Areca lutescens container palm
Areca lutescens container palm

Royal palms

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.

The royal palm
The royal palm

Fountain palm

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.

The fountain palm
The fountain palm

Fishtail palm

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.

Caryota urens palm
Caryota urens palm

Traveller's palm

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.

Red palm

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.

The red palm
The red palm

China palms

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.

The China palm
The China palm

Triandra palms

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.

Areca triandra crown view
Areca triandra crown view

Toddy palm

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.

Borassus palm crown view
Borassus palm crown view

Epilogue

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

Comments

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    • hmkrishna profile imageAUTHOR

      Halemane Muralikrishna 

      3 months ago from South India

      Because of size, evergreen nature, palms look very much elegant. It is nice to know that you have liked my article Ms Suchismita.

    • Suchismita pradhan profile image

      Suchismita Pradhan 

      3 months ago from India

      Mr.Surya is right because of this article I came to know about so many variety of palms.These ornamental plants add more beauty to the garden and our house and also help in cleaning the toxic air.Thanks for sharing.

    • hmkrishna profile imageAUTHOR

      Halemane Muralikrishna 

      5 months ago from South India

      Dear Mr Surya Sashank, Palms are many types, not only these. These are some of the palms seen in South Indian gardens. Thank you.

    • Surya Sashank Rasinkar profile image

      Surya Sashank Rasinkar 

      5 months ago

      Only because of this article I came to know that Palm trees are of these many types

    • hmkrishna profile imageAUTHOR

      Halemane Muralikrishna 

      5 months ago from South India

      Hi Ms Liz, you would be able to have a container plant of Chrysalidocarpus lutescens or Areca in your sunlit area. You may keep it warm during winter. Try with no harm!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      5 months ago from UK

      I love to see and photograph palms when I am abroad. We often visit botanical gardens especially in Spain. I am not sure how successful I would be in trying to grow a palm tree in the UK climate.

    • hmkrishna profile imageAUTHOR

      Halemane Muralikrishna 

      5 months ago from South India

      Thank you Ms Vineetha, Palms are always better potted plants when we compare these to unhealthy Dieffenbachia's

    • profile image

      Vineetha 

      5 months ago

      This was such a detailed writeup. You have covered a lot of ground here. Am sure any botany enthusiast will get a treasure trove of knowledge from this article. Keep the good work going. Cheers

    • hmkrishna profile imageAUTHOR

      Halemane Muralikrishna 

      5 months ago from South India

      Thank you Ms Prantika for your encouraging words.

    • Prantika Samanta profile image

      Prantika Samanta 

      5 months ago from Kolkata, India

      Informative article. I didn't know so much about various kinds of palms.

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