palm, common name for members of the Palmae, a large family of chiefly tropical trees, shrubs, and vines. Most species are treelike, characterized by a crown of compound leaves, called fronds, terminating a tall, woody, unbranched stem. The fruits, covered with a tough fleshy, fibrous, or leathery outer layer, usually contain a large amount of endosperm in the seed (stored food). Although the palms are of limited use in the United States and other temperate areas, their economic importance in the tropical regions can exceed that of the grasses. Members of the family often furnish food, shelter, clothing, and other necessities of life for entire populations; an ancient Hindu song about the Palmyra palm (Borassus flabelliformis) of India enumerates 801 uses for the plant. Among the most important palms providing food and other products are the coconut, date, and sago. Palm sugar (jaggery) is obtained from the sap of several palms, e.g., species of Phoenix, Cocos, Arenga (in India), and Raphia (in Africa). Palm toddy, or wine, is made especially in Africa and Southeast Asia. The fruit of the betel palm provides the world's most-used masticatory. Carnauba wax is obtained from a Brazilian species. Among the important palm fibers are raffia and rattan. Daemonorops draco yields dragon's blood, a resin. Another palm-fruit product, tagua, is used as a substitute for ivory. Species native to the United States include the tall royal palm of Florida and Cuba (usually Roystonea regia in Florida) and the California fan palm (Washingtonia filifera) of the Southwest and Mexico, much planted as an avenue ornamental. The palmetto palm is the characteristic underbrush plant of the SE United States. Cabbage palm is a name applied to several species whose young heads of tender leaves are cooked as vegetables; these include the coconut palm, a royal palm (R. oleracea), and the cabbage palmetto (Sabal palmetto). The largest known plant seed, enclosed in a fruit weighing up to 40 lb (18 kg), is borne by Lodoicea maldivica, a palm of the Seychelles, variously called the Seychelles nut palm, the coco-de-mer, or the double coconut. The talipot palm, Corypha umbraculifera, has leaf blades that may be up to 16 ft (4.9 m) across and the largest compound inflorescence, or flowerhead, in the plant kingdom. Palm oil is the fat pressed from the fibrous flesh of the fruit of many palms, principally the coconut palm, the African oil palm (Elaeis guineensis), the peach palm (Bactris gasipaes), the babassu palm (Orbignya species, especially O. phalerata), and other South American species. Commercial palm oils are used for soaps and candles, lubricants, margarine, fuel, feed (chiefly the caked residue remaining after the oil has been expressed), and many other purposes. The total output of palm oil equals that of all other nondrying oils combined. The palm family is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, order Arecales.

Royal palm (Roystonea regia).

Any of about 2,800 species of flowering, subtropical trees, shrubs, and vines that make up the family Arecaceae (or Palmae). Many are economically important. Palms furnish food, shelter, clothing, timber, fuel, building materials, fibres, starch, oils, waxes, and wines for local populations in the tropics. Many species have very limited ranges; some grow only on single islands. The fast growth and many by-products of palms make exploitation of the rainforest appealing to agribusiness. The usually tall, unbranched, columnar trunk is crowned by a tuft of large, pleated, fan- or feather-shaped leaves, with often prickly petioles (leafstalks), the bases of which remain after leaves drop, often covering the trunk. Trunk height and diameter, leaf length, and seed size vary greatly. Small flowers are produced in large clusters. Among the most important palms are the sugar palm (Arenga pinnata, or A. saccharifera), coconut palm, date palm, and cabbage palmetto.

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Tree (Phoenix dactylifera) of the palm family, found in the Canary Islands and northern Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, India, and California. The trunk, strongly marked with the pruned stubs of old leaf bases, ends in a crown of long, graceful, shining, pinnate leaves. The fruit, called the date, is a usually oblong brown berry. Dates have long been an important food in desert regions, and are the source of syrup, alcohol, vinegar, and a strong liquor. All parts of the tree yield products of economic value, being used variously for timber, furniture, basketry, fuel, rope, and packing material. The seeds are sometimes used as stock feed. The tree is grown as an ornamental along the Mediterranean shores of Europe. Its leaves are used for the celebration of Palm Sunday (among Christians) and the Feast of Tabernacles (among Jews). Date sugar, a product of India, is obtained from the sap of a closely related species, P. sylvestris.

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Tree (Cocos nucifera) of the palm family, one of the most important crops of the tropics. Its slender, leaning, ringed trunk rises from a swollen base and is topped by a graceful crown of giant, feathery leaves. The large ovoid or ellipsoid mature fruits have a thick, fibrous husk surrounding the familiar single-seeded nut. The nut contains a white and somewhat sweet meat, which is eaten raw; coconut oil is extracted from the meat. The nutritious liquid “milk” at the centre may be drunk directly from the nut. The husk provides coir, a fibre highly resistant to salt water that is used in the manufacture of ropes, mats, baskets, brushes, and brooms. The nutshells are used as containers and often decoratively carved.

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or Passion Sunday

In Christianity, the first day of Holy Week and the Sunday before Easter, commemorating Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It usually includes a procession of members of the congregation carrying palms, representing the palm branches the crowd scattered in front of Jesus as he rode into the city. The liturgy also includes readings recounting the suffering and death of Jesus. Palm Sunday was celebrated in Jerusalem as early as the 4th century and in the West by the 8th century.

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Resort city (pop., 2000: 42,807), southern California, U.S. It is located in the Coachella Valley. Originally known as Agua Caliente for its hot springs, it was a stagecoach stop by 1872. In 1884 John G. McCallum established the Palm Valley Colony there. Incorporated as a city in 1938, it developed into a glamorous desert resort and residential area, frequented by celebrities, including Hollywood stars. Nearby is Joshua Tree National Park.

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