Family Overview - Arecales
Arecaceae (Palmae) - the Palm Family
Diversity: Mostly arborescent with some 'woody' vines and shrubs. The family includes about 202 genera and about 2,600 species including many of economic importance in the tropics (betel nut - Areca, oil palm - Elaeis, coconut - Cocos, date palm - Phoenix).
Distribution: Worldwide and centered in the tropics and subtropics. We have two genera with three species in Texas.
Significant features: Palms are a bit like cacti or bromeliads in that the family
a suite of structural features that allow - in most cases - immediate
recognition. Given the lack of secondary xylem, arborescence is
often the result of retained,
lignified petiole bases. Leaves - often expressed as a terminal
- are usually quite large (over 80 feet long on the African raffia palm
regalis) and compound (both pinnate and palmate)
sheathing bases. The flowers are small, sometimes imperfect, and
into large, paniculate inflorescences that are usually subtended by a
foliar bract known as a spathe.
most common fruit type is a drupe.
Fruit and Floral Structure
||Cocos nucifera - infructescence with spathe|
More information on the Arecaceae