Insects and Other Animals
Associated with Palms (Arecaceae)

Palm tree

There are about 2,780 species of palms in about 212 genera, and they are mainly tropical. Coconut palm (Cocos nucifera), sago palms (Metroxylon and some species of Arenga and Caryota, date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), oil palm (Elaeis guineensis and species of Orbigyna), betel nut palm (Areca catechu), cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), and other palms bearing fruits (especially species of Borassus and Caryota) provide food and drink to humans. Wax is obtained from Copernicia (carnauba wax) and Ceroxylon. A material resembling ivory ("vegetable ivory") was obtained from several palm genera. Various palms of the genera Cocos, Raphia, Leopoldinia, Attalea, and Caryota provide fibre, whereas Calamus is best-known as a provider of rattan cane. Numerous genera of palms provide thatch for roofing, and in Florida and the West Indies the name "thatch palm" is applied to members of the genus Thrinax. Many genera of palms are grown as ornamental plants and are so valued. In Florida, however, Serenoa repens, which is called saw palmetto, is viewed as a weed by ranchers, although it is a major source of nectar for honey bees.

Pollination of palms is by wind or by insects (especially Coleoptera), and some have modifications to the flowers to permit feeding by insects. Insects eat various parts of palms of all genera. Palms of the genera Manicaria, Mauritia, and Raphia (in Brazil) and Veitchia (in Fiji) have been noted to form phytotelmata, impounding water between their leaves and allowing the existence of aquatic insects in this water.

Plant and Insect Associations

The International Palm Society

Pests of Palms

The University of Florida Ft. Lauderdale Research and Education Center

Coconut Palm as an Invasive Species

This site is maintained by Howard Frank, Entomology & Nematology Department, University of Florida (