Lessons from Abu Dhabi

How many different edible Palm Tree Fruits do you think there are?

Guess and then read.

 

So….I was in Abu Dhabi and I heard someone say, “Dates grow on palm trees.” I suddenly felt the urge to correct the man who made the statement but thank goodness I kept my mouth shut. This caused me to do some research because I just thought coconuts grew on Palms. Please excuse my ignorance; there are not many palm trees in New York City. I learned that there are about 12 different commonly consumed palm fruits.

  1.     Coconut Palms (Cocos nucifera)
    • Eat the fruit
    • Coconut oil used for cooking, body, skin, and hair.
    • Drink the water
  2. Date Palms (Phoenix dactylifera)
    • Eat the fruit
  3. Acai Palms (Euterpe oleracea)
    • Eat the berry-known for all of the health benefits.  A magical fruit, curing aging, diabetes, dementia, bad skin, etc. The antioxidant and fatty acid components alone can supposedly help cured dozens of common maladies.
  4. Peach Palms (Bactris gaisepes)
    1. Eat fruit
    2. Make jelly
  5. African Oil Palm  (Elaeis guineensis and Elaeis oliefera)
    1. Oil from seed/kernel oil: high in saturated fats and has been villainized for the cause of high cholesterol and coronary artery disease. This is a commonly used vegetable oil in processed foods.
    2. Oil from the fruit is healthier and full of Vitamin E and antioxidants
  6. Betel Nut Palm (Areca Catechu)
    • In Thailand the fruit is eaten or wrapped in leaves ready for chewing.
  7. Snake Palm  (Salacca zalacca)
    • In Asia, it is an economically important fruit. It is spiny and got its name because of its snake-like scaly skin.
  8. Jelly Palm (Butia capitata)
    • The fruit is used to make jelly
  9. Chilean Wine Palm
    • The seed is most commonly eaten over the fruit. The fruit is quite bland.
    • Traditionally grown for its sap to make wine. However, when the sap is extracted it kills the tree.
  10. Saw Palmetto (Brahea edulis)
    • Traditionally, it was used as a source of food for Native Americans in Florida.
    • Today, known as the source for prostate medication. It helps shrink overgrown prostate and relax uptight urethras.
  11. Guadalupe Palm  (Brahea Edulis)
    • Used as the landscaping palm in Los Angeles
  12. Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
    • Barely any fruit surrounding the extremely small hard seeds that are eaten.

 

Playing around with the acai palms in Abu Dhabi.

Playing around with the acai palms in Abu Dhabi.

Other species noted for their edible fruit around the world (though primarily eaten by locals) include several species of Acrocomia, Actinorhytis, Allagoptera, Astrocaryum, Attalea, Bactris, Borassus, Calamus, Carpoxylon, Chamaerops, Clinostigma, Copernicia, Cryosophila, Daemonorops, Dypsis (many species), Gulubia, Hyphaene, Jubaeaopsis, Latania, Loxococcos, Nypa, Oenocarpus, Parajubaea, many species of Phoenix aside from dactylifera (though I have not found these all that great), Pinanga, Ptychococcus, Sabal and Syagrus (many).
Of the 12 different fruits I learned about I have to say that I was most excited to learn about Acai growing on palms.  Acai berries hit the market a few years ago with a bang. There are numerous health benefit claims and acai products.  While walking back to my room in Phuket, Thailand I looked up and saw Acai Palm!

 

Had I not visited Abu Dhabi I may not have heard this man mention the origin of dates. One of the main reasons I love to travel is because I learn so many new things.

 
Links for more information on Palm Fruit:
http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/3242/#b
http://homeguides.sfgate.com/fruit-grows-palm-trees-61268.html
http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_tree