Arecaceea or Palm trees are widely spread around the tropical and subtropical zones, particularly since there are more than 2600 species in the palm trees families. They are recognized by their large compound and their specific leaves that grow at the top of the tree. The physical characteristics are not a standard for the entire tree family, as many varieties distinguish themselves by other details. Palm trees grow in any hot weather habitat from the tropical rain forests to desert areas. Today, when we think of palms we immediately relate them to exotic vacations, but in the past they stood for peace and victory.
Palm trees are extensively cultivated, they are used in the food industry, tourism and economy. Madagascar is one of the places which has more species than the entire Africa, and Columbia occupies the second place in what the density of palms on its territory is concerned. They have evergreen leaves shaped like a fan or a feather, and the flowers are small and white for most species. The fruit is a single seeded drupe although there are trees which have more seeds in a fruit.
Two thirds of the palm trees live in the tropical forests but there are species that prefer mountain regions over 1000 meters of altitude. They are well adapted to grasslands, desert oases and even acid soils. Palm trees have the larges seeds, the largest leafs and the biggest inflorescence in the natural world, with seeds weighing more than 15 kilograms each and reaching almost half a meter in diameter. The largest inflorescence can contain millions of tiny flowers while the highest palm tree reaches 60 meters, their leaves are also huge, being 25 meters long and 3 meters wide.
The importance of palm trees is expressed in the Bible where they are mentioned over thirty times, even the Muslims mention them in their holy books. Palm trees also grow in Europe close to the Mediterranean where most cities have adopted them for the decorating of their touristic zones. There are also some hardy palms that can endure severe temperatures like Sabal minor and Trachycarpus fortunei that grow in the south of the USA and in many cold places from Asia. In the American Independence War palms were a valuable resource for the building of fortifications because the wood spongy nature reflected or absorbed the bombardments of the British enemy.
In history palm trees were regarded as a symbol for victory, Romans rewarded their champions with palm trees, while for early Christians palms represented the victory of good over evil. These popular trees appear on the flag of several countries and states famous for their forests and Florida, Guam and South Carolina are just a few examples.