Other types of palm tree fruits are used and processed as supplements in the food industry to promote health. Some of these fruits may be commonly sold in local stores. This article serves as a comprehensive guide.
Coquitos, also known as miniature coconuts, resemble palm tree fruits. Some palm trees produce peach-like fruits, round nuts called betel, palm jelly fruits, saw palmetto fruits, palm oil fruits, acai berries, and other types of fruits that grow on palm trees. The most common fruits that grow on palm trees are dates and coconuts.
Palms are a group of woody flowering perennials in the Arecaceae family, with around 2,600 species. While palms generally have a tree-like appearance, some palms, such as bananas or bamboo, are herbaceous plants. Botanically speaking, a palm is often referred to as a tree, even though it is technically a woody plant.
The fruit that grows on palm trees is known as dates, which have a fleshy, sticky, and sweet drupe with black or red color. The dates are covered by a hard stone-like substance. Examples of date palms include various brown-colored varieties.
However, coconut palm is a unique type of fruit. The edible part of a coconut is the white part that surrounds the seed. Coir is the coarse fiber that surrounds the coconut seed, which can also be used as a substitute for moss peat or for making household items.
Instead, people tend to avoid eating fruit palm oil, which is widely used in the production of food and cosmetics, by crushing vegetable seeds and fruit pulp to extract oil.
Tropical islands usually remind people of the topmost explosion of fan-shaped foliage and long, arching stems. Instead of having leaves, they have evergreen fronds that grow from an unbranched stem.
Related reading: Varieties of palm trees that thrive in Florida.
Varieties of Palm Fruits (with Images) – Guide for Identifying
Let’s examine in greater depth the process of recognizing typical varieties of palm fruit.
Coconut Tree Fruit (Cocos nucifera)
The weight of a coconut is approximately 3 pounds (1.4 kilograms). The identifiable fully grown brown coconut kernel is enveloped in a hairy fiber and is situated within a sturdy shell. The produce of the coconut tree is a sizable green or yellow circular fruit during its early stage, which can have a diameter of up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) and a length of 18 inches (45 centimeters).
Drupes such as dates, peaches, olives, and cherries are encompassed by a dense mesocarp, and they contain a central stone or seed. Despite being commonly called a nut, the fruit of a coconut palm is actually a drupe.
The substance used to produce a “meaty” flavor in cooking is coconut oil, which can be used in its used, roasted, or grated form. The nutritious water of a brown, hard coconut reveals a soft part when drilled through. The interior of the coconut has a clear liquid and thick white flesh. Coconuts are usually sold as large, oval, hard, nut-like fruits, making them the easiest to identify when mature.
Coconut water can be consumed directly from the fruit, usually by cutting off the top of green coconuts. The flesh of the coconut has a gelatinous texture, while the liquid inside the round fruit is known as coconut water. Clusters of coconuts can be seen growing on tall coconut palms. Immature coconuts are lighter in color, appearing greenish or yellowish.
The circular form of Pacific coconuts is found when they grow on palm trees that have been domesticated. Conversely, wild coconuts have an elongated, triangular shape. The shape of the coconut palm fruit varies depending on whether it belongs to a domesticated coconut variety or a wild species.
Fruit of the Date Palm Tree (Phoenix dactylifera)
The elongated and cylindrical fruits, measuring 1″ to 3″ (2.5 – 7 cm), are commonly known as dates. The most identifiable variety of dates is characterized by their brown exterior and fibrous pulp. The fruit of the palm tree, from which dates are derived, is a relatively sizable and tender oval drupe that can range in color from vibrant red to yellow or deep brown.
The length of time it takes for palm trees to produce fruit depends on their age and the climate they are in. Depending on the specific circumstances, palm trees can produce up to 200 lbs (90 kg) of fruit in a year. The clusters of dates on a mature palm tree can measure up to 4 ft (1.2 m) long and are easily identifiable due to their distinctive size.
The Medjool date is the largest type of fruit in the date family. It has a reddish-brown or dark brown oval shape with slightly wrinkled skin. The flesh is soft and sticky, making it delicious to eat either chopped up in savory dishes or enjoyed as a dessert. The Medjool date is also the most commonly consumed sweet date variety.
There are many variations of palm fruits, with dates being classified as a large brown fruit, although there are typically many different types. For example, Nour Deglet dates are dark brown and have a honey-like taste. Sukkari dates have a juicy and soft flesh that is mouth-watering, with a sweet golden yellow color. Ajwa dates, on the other hand, have a sweet taste and a smooth flesh, with a skin that is black and wrinkled like a giant raisin.
Açaí Berry (Euterpe oleracea)
The acai berries, which are the fruit of the acai palm tree, grow in large clusters on drooping branches. These round, black berries have a single seed and are covered in a pulpy flesh. They measure approximately 2.5 cm (1″) in diameter and resemble grape-like drupe berry.
You can identify ripe acai berries when they turn almost black in color, with a dark purple hue. A distinctive feature of acai palm berries is that the seeds are proportionally large compared to the edible portion of the flesh. The taste of acai berries is described as earthy, similar to unsweetened chocolate and reminiscent of blackberries.
You cannot find fresh acai berries outside their native South America because they have a short shelf life. However, supplements containing acai berry are sold for their purported health benefits due to their antioxidant properties. Additionally, the fruit palm oil derived from acai is used in cosmetics.
Pindo Palm Fruit – Jelly Palm Fruit (Butia capitata)
The palm jelly fruit, also known as the pindo berry, is a small orange or yellowish fruit that grows on palm trees. It measures approximately 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) in diameter and is most similar to the size of a cherry.
Ripe and circular jelly palm “berries” are commonly transformed into a sugary and tangy jelly. When consumed in their raw state, apricots or exotic pineapple and banana have a flavor reminiscent of jelly palm fruits. The spherical orange drupes are renowned for their elevated pectin content, which is the source of the jelly palm tree’s name.
There are usually many palm trees that are used to house berries, and when the orange or yellow palm fruit falls ripe, it can be messy. However, the abundance of palm fruit can mean that the pindo palm trees, which grow in states like Florida, are often used as ornamental landscape plants by many homeowners in southern states.
Saw Palmetto Palm Berry (Serenoa repens)
The palmetto saw palm’s fruit grows in dense clusters and measures between 2.5 to 1.3 cm (1″ and 0.5″) in length. Each black fruit is rounded and has a strong blue cheese flavor but a sweet aroma. The fruit on the palmetto saw palm looks like a dark oval or black olive.
The fruit of the dwarf palm tree, native to Florida, is rarely used in cooking due to its purplish-black color and pungent taste, which resembles that of a black olive and has an oily texture.
The dried berries, marketed as a dietary supplement for men’s health, are processed into powder. Utilizing their dehydrated state is the most prevalent application of saw palmetto berries.
Peach Palm Fruit (Bactris gasipaes)
The fruit of the peach palm tree is easy to identify, with each fruit measuring 5 to 2.4 inches wide. The fruit is a large, edible drupe with a triangular shape, and it can be yellow, red, or orange in color.
Each cluster can contain up to 300 fruits on peach palm fruits. On a solitary palm tree, depending on the tree’s age, up to five groups of ovoid-shaped orange or red fruits develop. The large clusters of palm fruit can weigh up to 26 lbs. (12 kg).
Palm Oil Fruit (Elaeis guineensis)
Each palm oil tree grows a large, rounded fruit that is dark red to orange in color. The fruit is oil-rich, with an oily flesh and a kernel or seed inside. Clusters of these round fruits grow in massive clusters, weighing between 5 and 30 kg.
The most common use of palm oil is in the production of vegetable oil. The valuable substance is extracted from the kernel palm and pulp of the palm fruit. The oil is pressed from the palm fruit. It is estimated that 48 kg (100 lbs) of palm pulp can produce 22 kg (48 lbs) of palm oil, and 3.5 lbs (1.6 kg) of palm kernel oil.
Areca catechu Fruit (Betel Nut Palm)
The betel palm nut is a hard-shelled drupe, measuring up to 5 cm in length and being egg-shaped and brown when ripe. Although it is called a nut, it actually develops a fibrous, outer layer.
The chewing of betel nut, commonly known as the areca nut, along with betel leaf, is linked to severe diseases and side effects due to its stimulating effects. This practice is prevalent in Southeast Asia, where the fruit of the areca palm is chewed.
Salak Fruit (Salacca zalacca)
Within the consumable flesh, there exists a substantial indigestible kernel enclosed within every one of the three segments that bear resemblance to a garlic bulb. The consumable flesh is both sugary and tart, and the fruit that develops on the snake palm is a brown, egg-shaped structure, approximately the dimensions of a fig.
Sometimes, the fruit of the palm snake can be astringent to sweet in taste. The fruit palm’s texture is similar to that of an apple, with firm white pulp that is crumbly and dry at times, but crunchy and moist at other times. The fruit gets its name from the scaly, brown skin that covers the large fruit.
Also known as the snakeskin palm or salak tree, snake fruit thrives in Java and Sumatra, which are located in Indonesia.
Fruit of the Chilean Wine Palm (Jubaea chilensis)
The fruits from the Chilean palm tree, known as palm wine, have a small round shape resembling a tiny coconut. These fruits have a hard outer shell that covers a creamy white flesh. Although they measure around 3 to 2 centimeters (1.2″ to 0.8″) in diameter, they taste unappetizing and soapy.
Chopping down Chilean wine palms is being limited due to the species being at risk. The palm tree necessitates felling in order to obtain the sap, nonetheless, the name “Chilean wine palms” is derived from the tree sap, which is used to produce palm syrup or palm wine.
Guadalupe Fan Palm Fruit (Brahea edulis)
The fruit palm known as drupe is characterized by a sticky pulp that surrounds a hard seed in its center. These round fruits, reminiscent of dates, have a sweet flesh. The fruit from the Guadalupe fan palm is round, measuring 3.8 – 2.5 cm (1.5″ to 1″) in diameter and has a golden yellow color.
You can enjoy Guadalupe fan palm fruits directly from the tree or have them cooked as a delicious sweet preserve.