For most of us palms are ornamental landscape accent plants which remind us that we live in the tropics, they don’t come to mind when we think of edible plants. Not only are a lot of palm species exploited for their culinary attributes but also for their other beneficial uses for mankind. No surprise, however, that the coconut (Cocos nucifera) is the world’s most economically important palm. Well known for its sweet and tasty “meat” which is harvested from the nut or seed of the palm. Most commonly shredded and sweetened to use in confections like cookies, candies, pies and cakes. Coconut is also a popular ingredient in Asian cuisines. The milk or water from the unripe nut is a iconic island drink when mixed with rum. The water, more recently, has become a regular shelf item in grocery stores because of its revitalizing properties. Coconut oil is more often used in cosmetics, perfumes, skin and hair tonics but recently as a favorable cooking oil. Coco oil is a light healthy oil which doesn’t taste of coconut or impart a coconut flavor into foods. Felled trees render vegetable palm heart while other plant parts are used or harvested for coir (fiber), thatch, baskets, mats clothing, flooring, furniture and trunks for construction.
The African oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) is the second most utilized palm species. It is a source of palm oil and palm kernel oil which have uses in the food industry, also industrial applications and as bio-fuel. The oil palm is a stately landscape tree and a better choice in our hot and humid climate then the comparably statured Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis). African oil palms are less susceptible to disease than most date palms and grows much faster.
Subscribers get total access to this story, and all our in-depth news, digital editions and exclusive content. Subscribe today, or try a 24-hour or 7-day digital pass.
Registered Post Subscriber — Sign me in.Sign In
Post Print Subscriber — I need to register my account for digital access.Access Digital
All Day Access — 24-hour digital pass99¢ for 24 hours
All Week Access — 7-day digital pass$3.99 for 7 days
All Access, All the Time — Print & DigitalView Offers