5 Shocking Facts You Probably Don’t Know about Palm Trees

Sure, you know palm trees represent tropical bliss; but what do you really know about this gentle plant? Probably not as much as you think.

Here are 5 facts about Xcalak palm trees that you don’t know. Watch the video or read on, whatever you’re into.

1. Palm Trees Aren’t Trees

One of the first palm trees in Xcalak you’ll meet, is the coconut palm. And unless you’re an expert on the Arecaceae plant family, you probably assumed that because it’s called a “palm tree” that it’s a tree.

Not so!

A palm tree is actually a type of grass. Two key differences:

  • a palm tree does not create rings as it grows – it’s yearly growth isn’t marked on the tree
  • a palm tree does not grow bark – it’s basically the same on the inside as the outside

Calling a palm tree “palm grass” is technically correct. But with a trunk, a crown of leaves, and everyone in the English-speaking world calling them “palm trees”, don’t change your vocabulary now.

2. Palm Trees Live Longer Than You

Unless you’re unusually long-lived, a palm tree will probably outlast you. The palm trees in Xcalak live around 100 years or more.

Of course, as you already learned, palm trees don’t have growth rings like regular trees. This makes it tough to determine their age, right? Luckily, scientists can use other methods to estimate a palm tree’s life. One species was estimated to live up to 740 years old!

Although a coconut palm lives longer than you, it takes about as long to mature – palms take around 5 years to grow a trunk and another 15 years to produce coconuts. So a coconut palm tree only starts its real job once it hits its 20’s. Just like a human!

Also like a human, the trees production slows down as it ages and stops about age 70. What does palm tree retirement look like? Well, it’s all the fun stuff (waving in the breeze, providing shade) without the work (growing coconuts).

And coconut palms don’t even have to worry about which tropical location to move to, because they’re already in a great location (especially Xcalak palm trees).

An Xcalak palm tree loaded with tasty coconuts

3. There are 2,600 Species of Palm Trees

That’s right, there are more types of palm trees then there are flavors of hot sauce in Mexico.

OK, I can’t actually validate that statement. But with nearly three thousand different species of palms, you’ve got to admit that’s a lot. After all, how many species of human are there?

Oh right. One.

Anyways, back to palm trees. Some have fan-leaves, some have feather-leaves, and some grow fruit. Some grow tall, some stay small; some only grow outdoors, some can grow indoors.

Check out this small list of palm tree species and you’ll see some pretty interesting names. Here’s a sampler:

  • Blond flame thrower palm
  • Fishtail lawyer cane palm
  • Purple crown shaft king palm
  • Zombie palm

In Xcalak, palm trees are mostly coconut palms because the area used to be a coconut plantation. That is, until the Hurricane Janet came along and wiped out the plantations. During your visit, look around and see which other kinds of palm trees you can spot.

4. Palm Trees Grow More than Coconuts

The gentle palm tree provides the world with more than coconuts for serving tropical drinks. Many trees grow edible fruit, while some provide other valuable crops.

Popular tasty treats that grow on palm trees include:

  • coconuts (duh)
  • bananas (of course)
  • dates
  • acai berries

Yes, the power-health ambassador, the acai berry, grows on a palm tree! Unfortunately, it’s not an easy palm tree to grow so don’t get your hopes up about saving money by growing your own acai berries.

Palm oil is another reason to start a palm tree farm – palm oil is popular throughout the world (even if it isn’t the healthiest).

Now you know palm trees grow more than coconuts, but in Xcalak you’ll see plenty that do. Be sure to enjoy their delicious bounty during your visit.

Safety Tip: Don’t a nap under a coconut tree – the heavy nuts fall without warning!

Xcalak palm tree silhouette in the sunrise

5. Palm Trees Can Grow in the Snow

Surprise! Palm trees don’t just belong on sandy beaches or in tropical jungles. They can handle sub-zero temperatures too.

But not every kind of palm tree can survive a freeze-thaw cycle. Xcalak’s palm trees are definitely warm-weather plants. Types that can weather cold weather (see what I did there?) best are small palm trees, notably the Windmill palm, Needle palm and the Mazari palm.

When a palm tree is considered ‘cold hardy’, it means that the plant can tolerate the cold, but not forever. When a plant is subjected to cold weather photosynthesis stops and the tree’s leaves start to die off. Without warm daytime temperatures, a palm tree’s stem starts freezing, then the crown, and finally the trunk. A that point, you’ve got a frozen tree statue that will never grow again.

While tough palm trees can withstand the cold, they get tired of it, like you and me. But unlike you and me, they don’t can’t catch a flight to Mexico to thaw out.

So while you’re in Xcalak enjoying the shade of the many palm trees, take a moment to appreciate these amazing plants – they’re more than a pretty backdrop for your postcard.

Learn more about Xcalak. Check out 6 Things (you didn’t know) about Xcalak’s Iguanas

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