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What is Palmyrah?

Updated: Feb 16, 2019


The Palmyrah is a tropical palm tree that is found in India, East Africa, Malaysia, The Philippines, Indonesia and many parts of Sri Lanka. It is very famous in Tamil Nadu where it was officially announced the state tree in 1978. It is easily cultivated and also found to grow wild. Cultivation requires a little labour in planting the nuts and protecting them from animals and insects till they grow above the humans reach. The growth of tree takes anywhere from 15 to 30 years to bear. The palmyrah palm is a large tree growing up to 30m in height and the trunk may have a approximate circumference of over 1.5 meters at its base. The tree can be easily recognized by its fan shaped leaves. There may be 25-40 fresh leaves and they are described as leathery, grey green, fan-shaped, 1-3 meters wide and folded along the midrib and they spring at the top in a clump. They are usually very tough and have thick stalks. There are two kinds of the palmyrah – the male and the female. Male and female flowers are from two different trees, they are never in one. Both male and female trees produce spikes of flowers but only the female plant do fruits grow. However both trees are used for tapping toddy. The flowers are small and appear in densely clustered spikes, developing into large, brown, roundish fruits. The male flowers are smaller than the female flowers. Though the growing of this important palm it has an immense potential, no determined effort has been made to bring the palm under cultivation. Palmyrah is referred to as "the tree of life" with nearly 800 uses including food, beverage, fibre, fodder, medicinal and timber. Among the various edible uses of the palm, the sweet sap tapped from the inflorescence for making palm sugar is of prime importance. The endosperm of the young fruit, like tender coconut, is a delicacy treat to have in the summer.

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