roundabout at Picnic Bay



Bercht. & J.Presl 1820

pronounced: uh-reek-AY-see-eye

the palm family


Arecaceae is named for Areca, the betel nut genus, derived from the Malayalam (South Indian) word adekka. This is the palm family, which is mostly restricted to tropical, sub-tropical and warm temperate climates. Palms are typically characterized by a tall, unbranched stem that can be up to 80 m tall (or, rarely, by a dichotomous branching stem), bearing at the apex a rosette of palmate or pinnate leaves, up to several metres long. Inflorescences are spadix-like, at first enveloped by a spathe or by leaf sheaths opening up at the flowering period. Flowers are usually unisexual; in monoecious species male flowers are borne at the apex and female at the base. The fruit may be either a berry (Phoenix) or a drupe (Cocos). One fertilized locule only carries on developing, while all the others wither, so that the fruit contains only one seed. Pollination is mostly by the wind, so large quantities of pollen are produced. There are some species that have spathes giving off some kind of scent in order to attract pollinators. The Arecaceae include plants of enormous economic importance to man, especially the coconut and the date palm.