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By F W Howard; et al

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Cavity. Fruits and seeds vary widely across the spectrum of the palm family in shape, colour, size and other characteristics. The embryo appears as a small plug on the endosperm. Under conditions favourable for germination, which generally include relatively high temperatures and moisture, the embryo produces its first leaf, or plumule, which in most species precedes the production of the root. e. once maturity is achieved they flower periodically. The age at which a palm comes into bearing is determined by genetics and secondarily by environmental factors.

For example, a particular species may typically begin producing flowers and fruit at 10 years, but environmental factors may delay or accelerate maturation by a year or two. In most palms, once fruit production is ini- tiated, it becomes an annual event. For example, the date palm flowers in spring and fruits are mature by autumn. Under the best conditions for production, coconut palms initiate fruit development about monthly, coinciding with the monthly production of fronds, so that coconuts can be harvested throughout the year.

The leaves of the rattan cut and twist. Twist, twist, cut and twist. (From a traditional Philippine ceremonial dance, in Willard R. Trask, 1966, The Unwritten Song, Macmillan, New York) The diversity of products derived from coconut palms is well known. According to Indonesian folklore, there are as many uses for this palm as there are days of the year (Punchihewa, 1995). A sample of some of the less well-known products derived from coconut and other palms follows. People of the Amazon region are astute at finding uses for diverse palms: corks for demijohns are cut from the petioles of Mauritia flexuosa, blowpipes are made from the slender stems of Iriartea deltoidea and Bactris gasipaes and arrowheads are made from the hard ‘wood’ of Wettinia spp.

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