A palm tree symbolizes life and its continuance, as well as joy and happiness. Dante mentions that Christians travelling to the Holy Land were known as “palmeros.” palm trees have been a part of myths as well as religion. The palm tree in the primal garden, the Garden of Eden, was known to be the tree of Life. Palm trees were also where the Goddess Astarte or Tamar resided.

A festival known as “palm Sunday” is celebrated by Christians to commemorate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem just a few days before his crucifixion. People welcomed Jesus by waving palm fronds and carpeting his path with palm leaves.

The palm family of trees has approximately 202 genera and 2,600 species. The palms are native to tropical and subtropical climates, and commonly known palms are date, coconut, and areca nut. Known to have existed around 80 million years ago, palms are among the oldest varieties of flowering plants.

The trunks of the palm have been used since ancient times to build catamarans or special boats. Dates are harvested from palms. Palms produce coir ropes, mats, and bags, and buy palm trees in NY is extracted from palms, along with palm wine.

In the US, different species of palm are native to Florida, California, Hawaii, Southern Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas. In fact, South Carolina is popularly known as the Palmetto State after the palms that line the coast.

As with all other things, many species of palm are facing extinction and are under threat from urbanisation, natural disasters, hybridization, and a lack of knowledge amongst common folk. Destruction of natural habitats, forest clearing operations, mining, clearing of mangroves, and dumping of trash are all detrimental to the survival of palms. Like other plants, palms are also prone to destruction by nature and disease.

Ornamental palms are a luxury and can cost from fifty to several hundred dollars.

Today the palm, the “Prince among trees,” needs care and attention. Otherwise, a tree that has lasted centuries will not remain for centuries to come.


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