There are about 2,800 species of palm trees growing in tropical, sub-tropical and no-frost temperate zones around the world. Palms are grown commercially for food and to develop atheistically pleasing landscapes. An ancient tree, palms first appear in the fossil record around 60 million years ago. Palm trees were critical for human migration out of the Middle East into Europe.
Palm trees are neither a hardwood or a softwood – in fact a palm tree is not really a tree but is a grass much like sugar cane, bamboo, corn and rice and therefore technically doesn’t grow any wood. However, an enterprising Japanese scientist invented a process that forms a hard, dense wood like product from soft palm trunks.
Palm wood is created by compressing under pressure stalk-like fibers into a dense block that can be milled into dimensional lumber like any hardwood or softwood sawlog. The greater the pressure used to form the wood, the darker the color. Red Palm, a tradename for palm wood is half as dense and lighter in color than Black Palm, for example.
There is little structural strength to palm wood, but it still has a wide range of uses including all natural, organic utensils, bowls and cups, woven furniture and sun hats.
In China, a massive undertaking is underway to stop the encroachment of the deserts. China is not alone. Desertification now affects fully one-third of the world's population -- and what's happening in Western China represents the largest conversion of productive land to desert anywhere in the world.
In Africa, a cooperative effort between several African nations is under way to build a green wall of trees across the entire width of Africa to halt the steady encroachment of the desert sands that engulf 100 acres of new land per day. Once complete, this wall of trees will be the largest living structure on the planet, easily seen from space.
In the Middle East, the UAE is planting a wall of trees along its borders to stop desertification.
It worked before. In 1935, overgrazing and drought caused 850 million tons of topsoil to blow off the United States' southern plains, leaving 4 million acres barren and creating the Dust Bowl. To address the problem, the newly formed Soil Conservation Service introduced the Shelterbelt Project - a 100-mile-wide strip of native trees bisecting the country from Canada to Texas. In just a few years, it helped to reduce the amount of airborne soil by 60 percent.
Planting a wide wall of tall 12 to 15 foot tree saplings with well-developed root systems grown using our tall tree seedling propagation technology would however, have a better chance to survive the frequent layering of windblown sands of a dune desert.
Palm trees and in particular, date palm trees, are used to slow the blowing sands of the desert. Date palms are a dual-purpose tree; first as a native tree to the region, they transplant and grow quickly to provide shade and second, they provide a food source for the population. There is another use however that can be added for this amazing tree – it’s ability to capture carbon and combat climate change. An acre of date trees can capture approximately 10 tons of carbon per year, which is equivalent to the carbon capture capabilities of most temperate hardwoods.
The ability of palm trees to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in their biomass, makes them an important tool for mitigating climate change. Here are some ways that palm trees can capture and store carbon:
Palm trees are often referred to as the "tree of life" due to their importance in various cultures and their numerous practical uses. Here are some of the reasons why palm trees are often associated with the concept of the tree of life:
Food: Palm trees have been a source of food for humans for thousands of years. Many parts of the palm, such as the fruit, seeds, and sap, are edible and are used in a variety of cuisines.
Shelter: Palm trees are often used to provide shelter and protection from the elements. In many tropical regions, palm leaves are used to create thatch roofs, which are an effective way to keep out the rain and sun.
Medicine: Many parts of the palm tree have medicinal properties and are used in traditional medicine. For example, the oil extracted from the fruit of the oil palm is used to treat a variety of ailments, and the sap of the date palm is believed to have healing properties.
Spiritual significance: Palm trees have been used in various religious and spiritual practices for centuries. In some cultures, palm trees are considered sacred and are associated with concepts such as fertility, rebirth, and eternal life.
Economic value: Palm trees are an important economic resource in many parts of the world. For example, the oil palm is a major source of edible oil, while the coconut palm is used to produce a variety of products, including coconut oil, milk, and water.
There are some species of palm trees that are able to thrive in temperate climates, which are generally characterized by mild to cool temperatures and seasonal changes. These types of palms are sometimes referred to as "hardy palms" or "cold-hardy palms". Some examples of palms that can tolerate colder temperatures include:
Palms separated by oceans and continents isolated one from another grew into some incredible varieties. The Coco de mer for example, has the largest seed of any palm, some 20 inches across and the Wax palm, Columbia’s national tree is the tallest palm in the world, reaching heights in excess of 300 feet.
Two thousand years ago, thick groves of ancient date palms covered the Jordan River valley before the Romans ordered every tree destroyed by degree. The palm was thought lost to history and extinct before Judean date seed was discovered in a food store in Masada, a mountaintop fortress built over 2,000 years ago on the shore of the Dead Sea. No one ever thought that any of the seed would germinate, but germinate it did, becoming the oldest stored seed on record to grow a plant. As trees bear fruit, there is great interest reintroducing the Judean Date Palm throughout the region.
Palm oil is used medicinally as an anti-inflammatory and antihistamine. Extracts of palm oil is frequently prescribed for colds and related symptoms including sore throats and chest infections. Dates are rich in Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, A and C, fiber, calcium, iron, phosphorus, sulfur, potassium, copper, magnesium, and manganese and are best consumed raw (fresh or dried), never cooked or processed.
Palm oil is made from the fruit of the oil palm tree, scientifically known as Elaeis guineensis. This species of palm tree is native to West and Southwest Africa but is now grown in many tropical regions around the world, including Southeast Asia, South America, and parts of Africa. The oil palm tree is highly productive and can produce up to 10 times more oil per acre than other oil crops, making it a highly efficient source of vegetable oil. Palm oil is used in a wide range of food and non-food products, including cooking oil, margarine, soap, cosmetics, and biofuels.
A collaborative project in the Middle East is creating a “green dot” in the middle of the Oman desert. The thousand-acre project will grow several thousand date palms that will provide fruit and sequester several tons of carbon from the atmosphere. A 3 mile long covered archway provides a barrier from the blowing sands of the desert and contains a circle shaped river of fish and a 25 mile long row of vegetables.