Read till the end to learn about some of the best tropical berries and dates available. This list has all the details including the nutritional value they offer.
Do you enjoy snacking on fresh fruit? If so, you may consider adding palm fruits to your list of favorites. There are several edible palm fruits out there, not just coconuts. These nutrient-dense fruits are low in calories and a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They can be eaten fresh or used in cooking and baking.
What are Palm Fruits?
Palm fruit is a type of fruit that comes from palm trees. There are different species of palm tree worldwide, each producing a unique kind of fruit. Each type of palm fruit has a unique taste, texture, and appearance. These palm fruits are a nutritious food source that can be eaten fresh, dried, or cooked.
Where do Palm Fruits Come from?
Most palm trees are native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and South America. But over the years, human activity has introduced them to other parts of the world. Today, you can find palm trees growing in warm climates all over the globe.
What Do Palm Fruits Look Like?
The appearance of palm fruits varies depending on the palm tree they come from. Some, like coconuts, are large and round. Others, like dates, are small and oval-shaped. Others still, like acai berries, are tiny and round.
To help you understand these delicious fruits, we have compiled a comprehensive list of some of the best known edible palm fruits. Whether you're looking for a new tropical fruit to try or want to learn more about the different types of palm fruits, this guide has everything you need to know.
Scientific name: Phoenix dactylifera
The fruit of the date palm is a drupe that hangs in clusters at the end of the branches. Each fruit is about 2.5 to 7.5 cm (1" to 3") long and 1" to 1.5" (2 to 3 cm) wide and has a single hard seed inside. The flesh of the date fruit is sweet with a chewy consistency, while the taste is rich, molasses or caramel-like. You can eat the skin or exterior of the fruit, but you must wash it before eating. The fruit is a good protein source.
Date palms are dioecious, meaning that there are male and female plants. Male date palms produce pollen, while female date palms produce flowers. For pollination to occur and fruits to form, a male and female plant must be present. The date palm is native to the Middle East, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. It's believed that the date palm has been around for over 50 million years and was one of the first fruits to be cultivated.
Scientific name: Cocos nucifera
Coconut palms are monoecious, meaning each tree has both male and female flowers. The male flowers grow in clusters at the base of the leaves, while the female flowers grow solitary from the leaf axils. It takes 10 to 12 months for the flowers to develop into fruits. Once mature, a coconut palm tree can produce up to 75 fruits annually.
Most of the world's coconuts are grown in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Brazil. The flesh of the coconut is white and contains a large stone. The flesh is also used to make oil, cream, butter, and milk. The water inside the coconuts is potable and refreshing. It's often used in cocktails or as a natural electrolyte drink. Coconuts are a good source of vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5, and B6. They also contain minerals such as iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Snake Palm Fruit
Scientific name: Salacca zalacca
The snake palm is a species of flowering plant in the family Arecaceae. The fruit of the snake palm is large and ellipsoidal, measuring up to 12 cm (4.7") long and 8 cm (3.1") wide. The skin has an appearance of brownish-orange and is slightly rough to the touch. It easily peels away, revealing 2 or 3 lobes that house juicy white flesh with hard brown inedible seeds.
Snake palm fruit contains Vitamin C and Beta-carotene, besides minerals such as iron, calcium, and potassium. This juicy fruit has an intense flavor with hints of pineapple and pear. These can be eaten fresh and help in making lip-smacking snacks. They can be candied or turned into syrup to coat pies.
California Fan Palm Fruit
Scientific name: Washingtonia filifera
The California fan palm is the only palm tree species native to western North America. The fruit of the California fan palm is a small, black drupe that measures no more than 1 cm (0.5") in diameter. It has a single large seed inside the size of the fruit and has calcium and protein in good amounts. With a slightly drying texture, California fan palm fruits have sweet flavors with hints of molasses and butterscotch.
Fresh fruit can be eaten or boiled to make wine or syrup; it can even be replace honey or sugar as a sweetener. The dried fruit can be used to make smoothies or baked into delicious bread, muffins, and scones. Whole fruits, when soaked, make amazing beverages. California Fan Palm is a rich source of Vitamin A, fiber, and carbohydrates.
Saw Palmetto Palm Fruit
Scientific name: Serenoa repens
Saw palmetto palm fruit is a small palm that grows in the southeastern United States. Fruits of this plant have been used medicinally for centuries by Native Americans. The saw palmetto palm is a low-growing evergreen shrub that typically reaches a height of 1.5 to 3 m (5’ to 10’). It has long, deeply divided leaves that are pointed. The flowers are small and white, growing in clusters at the base of the plant. Their fruits are dark blue or black and grow in bunches and offer Vitamin E and antioxidants.
The saw palmetto berry is the ripe fruit of the plant and is used to make supplements and extracts. These products are sold as capsules, tablets, teas, and tinctures. Saw palmetto supplements are often marketed as a natural treatment for enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH). Some people apply saw palmetto to the skin for hair loss and dandruff.
Scientific name: Euterpe oleracea
The açaí palm is a tall, slender tree that grows up to 82 feet (25 m.) in height. It has dark green leaves up to 4 -13 feet (1.2 to 4 meters) long and 2 feet (0.6 meters) wide. The açaí palm produces small, round, black-purple fruits that grow in clusters of 500 to 900 berries.
The fruit of the açaí palm is about 0.6” (1.5 cm) in diameter and contains a large seed that takes up about 80% of the berry's volume. The rest of the fruit is made up of a thin layer of edible flesh and skin. The açaí berry has a sweet taste and is often added to smoothies, juices, and ice creams. Though acai fruits are low in sugar but are high in fat content.
Pindo Palm Fruit/Jelly Palm Fruit
Scientific name: Butia capitata
The Pindo palm, Jelly Palm, or Wine palm is a fruit-bearing tree native to Brazil. The tree grows to a height of 4.5 to 6 m (15’ to 20’) and has an upright, single trunk. It has long, feathery fronds with sharp spines at the end of each leaf section. Pindo palms are fast-growing and can produce fruit in as little as 3 to 4 years from seed. They are also one of the few palms that can tolerate freezing temperatures and will survive temperatures as low as -9 to -11 °C (12 to 15 °F).
The roundish yellow-orange fruits of the Pindo palm tree have a diameter of 2.5 cm (1"). The large seeds are inedible in the raw state, but the edible flesh of the fruit is fibrous and has a flavor similar to a pineapple (tart, sweet and juicy). It provides Vitamin C in significant amounts. Pindo palm fruits make delectable jams, jellies, and wine.
Scientific name: Bactris gasipaes
The delicious and juicy fruit of this plant is a delicacy. The fruit of the pejibaye palm is a yellow to orange drupe that hangs in clusters at the end of the branches. The clusters hang from 25 lbs (11.4 kg), with each containing 5 or more clusters of fruits. Each fruit is about 2.5 to 5 cm (1" to 2") wide and has a single hard seed inside; some fruits may be seedless. It has a great taste and keeps its appearance well when cooked or canned into dishes like salads.
The flesh of the pejibaye fruit is sweet, while the taste is seldom described as nutty or between that of chestnuts, cashews, and potatoes. You can eat the skin or exterior of the fruit, but you must wash it before eating to gain the benefits of ascorbic acid present in it. The pejibaye palm is native to Central America, Costa Rica, and the Panama region.
African Oil Palm Fruit
Scientific name: Elaeis guineensis
The African oil palm is native to western Africa and can grow up to 20 m (66’) tall. The tree produces two types of oil – palm oil and palm kernel oil. Palm oil is extracted from the fleshy fruit, while palm kernel oil is extracted from the hard seed. Both oils are used in cooking and cosmetics, for it is an excellent source of Vitamin C.
The fruit of the African oil palm is a drupe. Each fruit is about 4 cm (1.6”) long. The fruit's exterior is black with a red base when ripe and single seed. Oil palm trees can produce up to 20 tonnes of fruits per hectare and have an annual production of 4000 kg of palm kernel oil.
Betel Nut Palm Fruit
Scientific name: Areca catechu
The betel nut palm is native to Southeast Asia and parts of India. It is a tall, slender, evergreen tree that can grow up to 30 m (100’). The tree has long, leathery leaves and produces yellowish-white flowers that bloom in clusters. The fruit of the betel nut palm is a drupe that grows in bunches. Each fruit is around 5 to 6 cm (0.5" to 1") long and contains a single seed.
The exterior of the betel nut fruit is yellow to golden when ripe and has a waxy texture. When green, it has soft fibers that are gooey to the touch, but once mature and orange-yellow, they become wood-like and firm enough for sustenance. They're typically chewy with a spice-like flavor similar to nutmeg or cinnamon. They have proven helpful for weight loss enthusiasts.
Scientific name: Jubaea chilensis
The Chilean wine palm is a species of palm that is native to Chile that produces small, crunchy fruits, also known as Coquito. These nutritious, sustaining treats have been consumed for centuries as an appetizer or sweet element in dishes by people all over South America. They can be consumed either raw or crushed up for salads/fruit bowls with other toppings such as chocolate-dipped fruit.
The fruit of the Chilean wine palm is a round to oval drupe that measures about 3 cm (1.2") wide. When harvested directly from the tree, they are enveloped in a layer of yellow flesh that has an unpleasant flavor and can be discarded. You can crack it to get a lighter brown nut that houses a white flesh of 3 to 4 mm (0.11” to 0.15”) thickness with a jelly-like consistency and a sweet taste having a coconut-like aroma. The fruit has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.
Peach Palm Fruit
Scientific name: Bactris gasipaes
The peach palm is a fruit-bearing tree in Arecaceae (palm family). It grows to about 20 to 31 m (65’ to 100’) tall and is found in tropical regions of South and Central America. The fruit of the peach palm is an oval drupe that's reddish, orange, or yellow when ripe. It measures around 5–7.5 cm (2” to 3”) in diameter and contains one seed, black and hard.
The fleshy part of the fruit is edible and contains Vitamin A (well known for protection from oral and lung cancers). It has a sweet taste similar to sweet potato. It's often used to make jams, liqueurs, cakes, and ice cream. The seed can be roasted and eaten like a nut while the delicately spiced white inner kernel is reminiscent of coconut, hominy, or roasted chestnuts.
Guadalupe Fan Palm Fruit
Scientific name: Brahea edulis
The fruit of the Guadalupe fan palm is an edible drupe that grows in clusters. Each individual fruit is about 2.5 to 3.8 cm (1" to 1.5") wide, oval-shaped, and has a large stone or seed inside. The date-like flesh of this fruit is sweet and sticky. It carries Vitamin A, fiber, and carbohydrates. The small fruits have a single seed inside and are edible. They taste reminiscent of dates and are often used in pies and jams.
The Guadalupe fan palm is native to the island of Guadeloupe Island in the Caribbean Sea. The palm gets its name from the shape of its leaves which resemble a fan. Unfortunately, the Guadalupe fan palm is a protected species and is listed as critically endangered.
Scientific name: Phoenix reclinata
The Senegal date palm is a species of palm originally from tropical Africa. The Senegal date palm can grow up to 15 m (50’) tall and has a slender trunk. The female trees produce creamy white flowers, which turn into edible fruits. Senegal palm fruits are oblong and have a subtle sweetness to them.
The fruit of the Senegal date palm measures 2.5 cm (0.1") long. It's orange to red or yellowish-brown when ripe and has a thin flesh surrounding a large seed. It's often eaten fresh or used to make date paste that can be added to different sweet and savory items. The tree's bark contains fiber which can be used for making mats, ropes, and baskets. The leaves also produce a brown-colored dye. Some even make palm wine.
And with that, our list of palm fruits exhausts. Palm fruits are a great source of nutrition and have many potential uses. They are extremely easy to grow and can be found in many tropical climates. If you're interested in adding palm fruit to your diet or using them for other purposes, please do some additional research to find out where they are grown near you. We hope this article has given you a basic understanding of palm fruits and their benefits.