Note: Information is dated. Do not rely on it.Palms. A large and important order of plants, which are chiefly trees, often of great height. They have simple (rarely branched) trunks, marked with scars, which indicate the attachment of former leaves. The leaves are usually either feather-shaped or fan-shaped, arranged in a crown at the summit of the stem, and often of gigantic size. The flowers are commonly perfect or polygamous, and small, but, when taken collectively, their bright clusters form a striking object. The palms are mostly natives of the tropics, and form one of the most striking characteristics of tropical vegetation. The only European species is the fan palm. The products of the palms are various. The fruits of some are edible, as the cocoanut palm and the date palm, and form an important item of food in the countries where they grow. Many supply oils, wax, starchy matter, and sugar, from which an intoxicating beverage is obtained by fermentation and distillation. The palm of the Bible appears to be the date palm. The cocoanut palm is one of the most important of the family. Betel nut is the produce of a palm of the genus Areca; sago is also obtained from the stem of a palm. The Palmyra palm of the East Indies is chiefly important for its timber, which is very hard, heavy, and of a black color.
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