Americans, Germans and Romanians look to the oak as their national tree, while Greeks and Canadians have bestowed this honor on the olive tree and maple tree, respectively. Native to south and Southeast Asia, the palmyra palm is the national tree of Cambodia, owing to its broad-range, utilitarian contributions and to its enduring ties to the country's literary and folkloric traditions. Like sentinels proudly guarding centuries of culture, palmyra trees ring the ancient monuments at Angkor Wat, Cambodia's premier tourist destination.


Like its three cousins in the sugar palm family, palmyra offers sweet treats as well as valuable green medicines. Its roots, leaves and fruit are rendered into familiar products found in kitchens and medicine chests from western Africa to eastern Indonesia. The Ayurvedic system of natural healing so prevalent in India — where the palmyra tree is thought to have 800 uses — lists the following conditions as responsive to treatment by medicinal agents extracted from palmyra: leprosy, skin diseases, enlarged liver, constipation, worms and hiccough. Parts of the palmyra tree are used to make buckets, brushes, hats, fans and thatch for roofing.


The palmyra palm grows slowly at first, but adds height with increasing speed as it ages, climbing nearly 100 feet above ground. So valuable is this plant that over 40 million palmyra trees thrive in southeast India alone.


Palmyra fruits resemble coconuts, but the similarity is superficial. The pulp of the fruit is eaten fresh, while a sweet sap derived from other parts is concentrated to make palm sugar. This natural sweetener has been cultivated far longer than the common table sugar produced from cane, a type of grass, which is the world's largest food crop.

The opinions expressed are solely the writer's. NOTE: Visit herbalastrology.com to read Ted PanDeva Zagar's other articles and columns that discuss the benefits of herbs and natural foods. DISCLAIMER: The author's comments are not intended to serve as medical advice, and he urges his readers to seek qualified wellness professionals to resolve matters of health.