ArecaceaePalm family

  - Above-ground stems not branched, but may grow in clusters.
  - Leaves mostly compound (pinnate or palmate), rarely simple.
  - Stems with distinct nodes.
  - Flowers small, cream, 3-parted, sessile on inflorescence rachis.
  - Fruit a globose drupe, usually not very juicy.

Diagnosis: Shrubs or trees, above-ground stems unbranched, but often with multiple stems arising together (colonial), sometimes with above-ground leaves and underground stem, leaves alternate, pinnately or palmately divided into separate pinnae, the pinnae often with a stronger midvein, less often not divided and appearing simple, numerous long, parallel secondary veins, stems with prominent nodes and leaf scars.

Local distribution: Occurs in all habitats.

Similar families
Poaceae: leaves simple, entire.
Cycadaceae: leaflets with spiny margins, short 4-8 mm spines on petiole.
Cyclanthaceae: non-woody herbs and tree trunk climbers, never tree-like, inflorescence cone-like.

Diversity: Total: 13 genera, 35 species. Trees: 10 genera, 13 species.

Credits: Images and text copyright 2000-2007, William A. Haber,