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December 14, 2021 52 mins

Palm trees. You see them all over the world and for good reason. There are more than 2,500 varieties. Learn all about these giant plants today. 

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hello, everybody. It's your old pals Josh and Chuck, and
you will have the chance to see us live in
person for the first time in two years, Friday, January
twenty one in San Francisco. Right, Chuck, that's right, we're
returning to the stage at Sketch Fest. We're very excited
about it. We can't wait to see everyone. It is
a VACS only show. Bring your backscard. It is a

mask only show. Bring that mask. Can't wait to see
a third of your faces. That's right. You can get
tickets at s F sketch Fest dot com and again Friday,
January one, thirty pm Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco, California.
We will see you there. Welcome to Stuff You Should Know,
a production of I Heart Radio. Hey, welcome to the podcast.

I'm Josh Clark and there's Charles w Chuck Chuck, Chuck
A Luck Bryant. This is gonna be a good one.
I can tell by your nickname, Chuck. And this is
Stuff you should know the podcast the podcast. Oh nice?
Was that off the cuff? Do you have a written
on your nose? It was off the cuff And that's
probably about as funny as this one's gonna get. There's

not a lot of room for jokes in here. But
but Chuck, this is the topic that I didn't know.
I wanted to know more about. Oh really, I had
no idea when you when you when you threw out
palm trees palms, I genuinely was puzzled. I'm like, I
have to know what what triggered that, because it's not

something that you're walking around. I live around palm trees
all the time. They're all over the place and I've
never stopped and being like, we should do an episode
on palm trees. So what what caused that? Uh? I
thought I told you no. No. So then this is
very true is I went to Los Angeles to go
to a sales dinner, as you know. Uh, and so

they were bringing a bunch of new sales people on
board at my heart, and they had a dinner because
they had not met in person, and they said, hey,
let's get uh, let's get Chuck out here, because you know,
Josh didn't want to go. Somebody said, what about Jostin,
like just just just chuck believe it. No. I think
they just didn't bother because you would have been like,
are you serious, uh, just to come say hi and stuff.

And we were, you know, the sales people were picking
my brain and being inquisitive and saying, how do you
get your topics? How do you get your topics? And
I literally I said, you know, you just look at
the world around you and they come to you. And
I looked outside in Santa Monica and it said, like
palm Trees, that could be an episode, and they said,

make it an episode. There's a great ad sales impression,
by the way, No, none of them talking like that.
In fact, it's quite opposite. Ad sales people are very smooth.
Oh I'm guessing. So yeah, I mean they saw ads
for Pete's sake. Yeah, so they just said wow, really
and I said yeah, and in fact, I will do it,
and I will dedicate this episode to ad sales. That's awesome.

This is the episode that everybody wants to hear. The
episode on Palm Trees dedicated to ad sales. That's right. Well, no,
they do a great job and they keep the show
nice and free for everybody. Oh that's right, man, that
is right. So hats off to the ad sales people.
This one's for you, guys. But that is how it
came about. It's just sort of an example of you
just sort of look around sometimes. And I lived in

l A for quite a few years, as you know,
and I loved palm trees. I have a palm tree
in my backyard. And I was like, wait a minute,
there's a lot of different kinds and I wish I
knew more about them. And now I have a very
uh unfun podcast episode to do. I don't know, it's
fun and that it's super science. And there's a lot too.

There's a lot of stuff that most people don't know,
and we're gonna impart it to them in a approachable manner. Okay, Yeah,
it wasn't as like exciting as I thought. Afterward, I
was kind of okay, well, you know what about poor
Dave Rugs, who helped us out with this one. I
think Dave enjoys the stuff. Okay, I hope. So so
we're talking palm trees, Charles, and did you know this,

let's start with this. There are more than twenty different
species of palm trees. Did you know that when you
were wandering around l A. No, I knew there were
quite a few, but I thought, you know, dozens. Okay,
sit there, please continue to sit. Mhm. Did you know
that palm trees are in no way, shape or form? Actually,

I should take that back. They are not actually trees
as far as botanists are concerned. I definitely did not
know that. Very nice. And then lastly, Chuck, well, let's
say it. Really, those are the two big crazy facts.
Palm trees are not trees. And that's a big one
because if you look at a palm tree, you say, no,

it's a tree. It's got bark, it's very tall, has
leaves kind of branch out from it. It's a it's
a treat. Don't be ridiculous. And um, again to a botanist,
it's not a tree. And we're going to get very
very detailed into why it's not actually a tree. Um.
But it helps if you to to understand this, if

you just step back and look at a palm tree,
even the tallest, biggest palm trees, those ones along Hollywood
Boulevard in that Morrissey video. Um that those are giant
plants and those aren't trunks, those are stems. Yeah, that's
that is pretty cool. And a botanist will sell you

that a uh, someone else not as hung up on
the botany might say, well, you know what, they function
as trees though, smarty, So take that fact and and
stick it where the sun don't shine. And then that's
kind of the end of that conversation because they just
got hostile. Well no, somebody comes in and says, peas,
peas children. Let's put it like this. Both palms are upright,

tree form plants, and everyone says, thank you, Happy International
Tolerance Day, everybody. That's right. But palms are closer categorically
speaking to grasses and grains like something like corn, than
it is that mighty oak. So again, it's just a tall,
giant plant, not a tree, a plant, And in fact,

giant is a really good way to put it, because
a lot of the growth patterns that um palms undertake
are are a form of gigantism. They're like plants on
steroids basically. So there you go. That's a good that's
some good groundwork for the whole thing. If you ask me,
I think so, Uh, maybe we could start at angiosperms. Uh,

there are about three hundred thousand of those bad boys,
and these are flowering plants, and I think a lot
of this stuff people. It may ring a bell to
like high school biology, because when I was going through it,
I was like, wait a minute, I learned about this
many many years ago. Uh, and it's all kind of
coming back to me. But um angie sperms of those
flowering plants that have the seeds in case in the fruit,

and it's the largest group in the plant kingdom. And
within that you've got monocots and die cots, and palms
are monocots. And that's important because I mean, you can't
talk about palm trees without talking about the specificity of
like how they grow and how they how they operate. Yeah,
because they're in in those details lies why they're not trees,

why there's something else while they're basically gigantic plants. So
you said, palm trees are monocots. Die cots are what
we're used to when we look at a tree. Things
like elm trees, beach um, uh maple trees, all of
those are die cots, right. Um. And when you're looking
at like a pine tree or an evergreen, usually that's

a gymnasperm that's like a completely different kind of uh
plant altogether. It doesn't have its um seeds and a fruit.
It bears its seeds on like the outside of like
a cone or something totally different thing. We don't need
to talk about gymnasperms again. Instead, we're talking about monicots
and dicotts, both angiosperms. Right. Uh. And if you've ever

planted a little die coot seedling, the first thing you're
gonna notice when it when it pops up out of
the ground is you're gonna have to I think it's
called caddleadn. Yeah, I think so. Yeah, And you're gonna
see two of those, and it's very you know, that's
why it's called a die coot because there's two. A
monica like a palm, will only have one. Yeah, And

caddleadn is just the first leaves that come out of
a sprout. And so you've got two, and like you said,
with the monicott, you've got one. That's a big difference.
But that's surely not a big enough difference to be like, well,
palm is not even close to a tree. It's something
totally different. You're right, Yeah, it goes on, I guess,

is what I'm trying to say. The differences continue. It does.
If you look at a dicott leave. If you take
like a a maple leaf or an oak tree leaf
and you look at the back of it or at
the front, but can really get a good look at
the back or hold it up in the sun, you'll
see the little weblike pattern of veins coming off from
that central stem on a leaf. That's different on a
di coot, on a monocot, it does not do that.

They they run parallel. Veins do from stiff from like
rear to tip. That's your vein right there, just a tip.
There's also um. Die coots have something called a cambium layer.
And this is uh, this is really important to me.
This is the big differentiator between palm tree and a

die coott tree like a maple tree. Right, This is
the big difference is that palm trees don't make wood
and die cott trees like a maple tree does. And
it does that because it has what's called secondary growth
where it has a bunch of cells xylem and flow
them cells which are vascular tissues, and they line up
in a circle and they form a ring in this

nice tight pattern and they grow outward and outward and outward.
It every year, so that if you cut a tree
down and look at the stump that's left. You see rings,
and those rings are annual growth of spring would in
autumn wood. But the upshot is is it's actually growing
would every year. As the tree grows outward, it gains girth,
and that is secondary growth. And the big distinction between

monocots and i coots is that monocots don't have secondary growth.
They don't grow like that. They don't grow outward, they
grow upward. That's a huge distinction. Yeah, and this is
where you know it can get a little word parsi um.
Monocots generally do not have secondary growth. Palm trees do

have a kind of secondary growth, but it's not real
secondary growth. I think it's what's the what's the word
for it? Uh, anomalous secondary growth is that the one? Yeah,
anomalous secondary growth. So, like every plan has primary growth.
If you go and you shouldn't do this because it's
bad for the tree. But if you went and carved

your name into a mighty oak, that that's not gonna
grow up, that's not gonna be ten feet above your
head in thirty years because that tree is going outward.
A palm tree like you said, it grows from the top.
So when you see a palm, you're gonna generally see
those palm fronds sticking out of the top of it.
And if you say, yeah, but there's some underneath it too,

those are just fronts that haven't fallen off yet on
the way up right exactly. So another way to put
it is that palm trees grow up. They don't grow
out right, but they do have girth yea in some cases,
I know, girth just the tip growing would good lord,

oh man, the ad sales people are blushing. Who saw
this coming? So, yeah, they do have girth, um, but
they have girth for a totally different reason. And and like, yeah,
you can look at a palm tree and be like, yeah,
it's a huge, it's thick, it's that's a trunk. But
some of them are really too. Yeah. I think the
biggest one gets to like three feet in diameter. That's
a big old trunk. But the thing is, if you

cut a palm tree down and you look down inside
of it, you're not gonna see neat pattern of tight
rings of those axylum and flow them cells. They do
have xylum and flow them cells because those are um
vascular cells. They carry water, minerals, sugars throughout the plant.
So all all plants and trees have xylum and flow
them cells. But in a in a a monocot, like

a palm tree, they grow just kind of willy nilly,
and they grow upward. What gives the palm tree it's
girth is when those vascular cells themselves grow in size.
So you've got more vascular cells growing up through the plant,
through the stem of the plant, which you think is
a trunk. You have more of them, and then they
increase in size. That actually increases the girth of the stem.

But the stem itself is not growing outward. It's not laying,
it's not adding layers of growth outward because that would
be secondary growth, and and monocott ston't engage in secondary growth.
That's right. And the other really cool thing about a
palm is is and one of the things that uh
separates monocots from di coots is that monocots don't have

that central tap root. So if you, uh, if a
storm came along and pulled up a palm tree, you
would see where basically where the mom is about to
call it a trunk. Uh, we'll probably call it a
trunk here and there, but it is a stem where
the stem meets the ground. If it's uprooted, you'll just
see just a spider web of smaller roots. It doesn't

have this big, one central tap root from which the
other roots go. It comes straight from the base of
that stem. That's right, And those are called um. I
think we'll get into a little bit later, but it's
called and votitious root growth, right, Yeah, which is not
super deep. I think the deepest you're gonna find is
maybe a few feet. Yeah, but they can really go out, yeah,

like fifty feet out from from the trunk in either direction.
It's um. It's really something to see. But the problem
is that that also makes them often susceptible to being
blown over in hurricanes because they often grow along the coast. Yeah,
and if you if it's a shallow grounded area, you
can a lot of times you can see a lot
of that root system sort of sitting level with the ground.

It's neat in some kinds, I think, including um king palms,
maybe royal palms that are nice. They look like big
fat cigars growing out of the bottom of the of
the tree at the base. It's pretty cool looking. Take
a break. Oh man, you just you took the words
right out of my mouth. I think that's a good Uh,

it's a good teaser for the first part. Yeah, I
say we take a break and let the ad sales
people do their thing. Are they going to read the ads?
We'll find out, Okay, okay, Chuck. So it turns out

the ad salespeople did not read the ads, but they
did sell them and appreciate one for that. So, um
palms are actually super duper old. Some of the oldest
plant fossils we've turned up, and by we, I mean
you and me specifically our palm um fraunds that are
upwards of seventy million years old um. But they think

that they're actually much older than that, because there's a
theory that palms are found all over the world because
they were growing on m Gondwana, which is part of
a super continent after Pangia started to break up. Gondwana
was one of the big massive pieces of of um
Earth that started to break up between hundred and eighty

and a hundred forty five million years ago, and they
think the palms were like goodbye family, goodbye. As the
as the land spread out informed the continence as we
know them today, and then started to do all sorts
of weird stuff as they evolved in isolation from one another.
That's right, uh, and weird stuff meaning there can be
tiny palms that are about you know, five to eight

inches tall. There is and I encourage people to safely
look up some of these because it is pretty amazing
to see the variety. Like when you look up the
wax palm. Uh, these are the ones I think generally
found in South America that are so tall and skinny.
I mean, you think the one some of those in
l A are tall and skinny, nothing compared to these

wax palms where you look at them and they just
seem to sort of defy gravity, and you wonder, how
are they not just snapping in a half constantly with wind.
It's uh um, anomalous secondary growth, that's the answer. But
those wax palms grow in the mountains in the andies.
So if you climbed up one of them, I think
they're up up to two feet tall, which is what

about seventy meters tall um, and you fell off the top,
it get even worse because you'd also be falling off
a mountain, so you don't want to climb a wax
palm unless you're just a dummy. That's right. Uh, those
stems that we talked about, the what most people might
call a trunk, Like we said earlier, they do very wildly.
Some of them are very small, just a few millimeters,

and then those, you know, I have different kinds that
are my favorites. But one of my favorites of those
really big thick stemmed ones that are sort of load
to the ground, very big around and have a big
um just sort of almost like a fireworks display of
blooms like a palmetto. Now not a palmetto palmettos. I

don't think you can really see the trunk very much,
can you. I saw palmetto? I think yeah. I think
they get tall after a while, they stay short and
then and then they achieve the correct girth and then
they grow longer. But I mean, there's twenty so I'm
sure there is a variety of something to suit your fancy,

you know what I mean. Yeah, that's exactly right. And
that one that grows only to be five inches tall
and has a stemmed just a few millimeters thick, that
one's called dipsis minuda um and it's pretty cut. That
was not planned by the Really, Yeah, I don't buy that.
I swear I will, I will photo copy. I'll scan

this page and send it to you and you will
not see it on there. Well, that's because you mean
is standing with a big Q card in front of you, right,
That's how I could get away with this, but you
figured me out. I can't. I think the one that
we have in our backyard is um a windmill palm,
and we planted it when we first got to Atlanta.

Emily worked as a producer on a TV commercial and
sometimes you might have noticed this a little bit with
the TV show. Sometimes there's things that you get for
a TV show or commercial or a movie that you
can't return or do anything with, and so at the
end of the job they'll be like, who wants this
whatever that we can't do anything with? And Emily said, oh,
we would love that palm tree. Uh. And it was

kind of small, and we planted it here in Atlanta
and it is really flourished. They are very easy to
take care of. You don't really don't do anything and
they have managed to uh. And this is kind of
one of the points of how robust they can be
even though they generally grow in the tropical areas around
the world. Uh, you know, this thing has had plenty

of snow on it and plenty of hard freezes in
Atlanta over the years, and it's just as healthy as
can be. Yeah. Now, there's some palms that can thrive
in zone five B I saw, which is like South
Nebraska and South Iowa. The needle palm does just fine there.
So Jersey short palms that said, yeah it has like, um,
like bleached orange spikes rather than green fronds. That wasn't

written down either. I like that one. Um. But yeah,
it's just like plus species, they're gonna learn to adapt everywhere.
And they've been around for hundreds of millions of years,
so they've actually gotten pretty good at doing things like
putting up with snow, which is surprising because again you
kind of associate the palms with like a tropical rainforest,

and for good reason, because they are found a lot
in tropical rainforests all throughout around you know, right above
and below the equator around the world. Um. Apparently in
the Amazon they make up six of all the trees
that you'll find there, so they're pretty successful as far
as um as far as plants go, gigantic plants, that's right. Uh.

Should we talk a little bit about what what makes
up a palm tree? We've talked a little bit about it.
You know, there are those roots that extend way way
out in a pretty shallow manner. Uh, there is that
elongated stem. And one thing you'll notice when you're looking
at a palm stem or if you want to go
up and hug one of those guys, is sometimes you
might get hurt. Uh. It is it doesn't have bark,

it has the scars of of fronds it came before.
And depending on what kind of tree that is, it
could be it can be kind of smooth, but usually
they're kind of rough, and sometimes they're they're really rough
and kind of uh pointing and spiky. Yeah, for sure, Um,
I think people kind of trim those kind back a
little bit. But um, I've all I was also reading

about over trimming them that you don't really want to. Um,
you don't want to trim them too much, and you
definitely don't want to trim any kind of palm frond
that isn't totally brown and crusty, musty, because if it's
not even if it's yellow, that means that there's still
a bunch of nutrient stores in there, just hanging out,
and the palm is like, hey, you just used up.

You just took a lot of my energy away. So um,
you want them typically either fall off naturally like they do,
or wait until they're just so brown and desiccated that
that even you can tell this this palm front can
be taken off without hurting the tree. But um, it's
pretty obvious. It is pretty obvious. But I thought was
really interesting is is um the idea that that's that's

not bark. Those are just like leaf remains, the remains
of basically where the leaf hit the tree at one time.
And it looks if you if you look, Dave points
us out, and I never really put it into words before,
but it's exactly true. It looks like the palm fronds
have been moving down the base of the tree, forming

this trunk all the way down, or forming the bark
all the way down. But really the stem has been
growing up and out of each leaf scar that's left
behind that forms what looks like the bark. So it's
almost like an optical illusion of palm tree. Yes, yeah,
I kind of get what he's saying there, Like, have
you ever have you ever driven next to a car

and the wheels are spinning so fast that they start
to look like they're they're spinning backwards much more slowly. Yeah,
I think it's akin to that. Do you know what
I thought you were gonna say? Is that thing where
you where the car next to you you see out
of your peripheral vision starts to move and you think
you're rolling forward and drink out a little bit and go,

oh my god. Yeah, that's even better. I like that
one even more. But it has nothing to do with
palm trees. No, it does, because they're all optical illusions. Okay, okay, um.
Should we talk a bit about Well, we talked about
how they grow. They grow from the top. When those
when those leaves pop out of the top, it's it's

called a spear and it pops out of what's called
the apical meristem or the apical meristem, And that's the
thing that's uh, you know, if a tree, if it
were a di coot, that's where the wood would be
growing from. But it's not. It depends so so they
both have apical maris stems from what I can tell,

But the tree has a lateral maristem as well, and
that's where that girth around the sides grows to make
it wider, the witty girth. But the thing another thing
that differentiates UM. Another thing that differentiates the palm tree
from a diet tree is that a die cout tree

has a bunch of different places where it has an
apical maris stem, and those we call branches the place
where branches grow off. So an apical meristem is wherever
primary growth, which is upright UM vertical growth of a
plant comes from, Like a maple tree has a bunch
of them. Those are the branches and then eventually like
smaller branches and even into the leaves. That's all apical

meristem growth. A palm tree has one place aside from
the roots, one place on the entire plant where it
is growing. Everything else is already grown gone left a
scar behind um them or it even looks like it's growing,
but it's it's already grown, and it's just sitting there
photosynthesizing like a big old palm front. But right in

the middle of the top of the plant is the
apical meristem, and that's where those new leaves shoot up from,
and that's where the xylem and flow divide and growth occurs.
And that's it. There's the one spot, and that's it
for the palm. Yeah. And if you if you have
a palm near you and it's low enough to see
the top of it pretty well, you will see many

times among all those beautiful green fronds um sometimes like
big windmill fans, you'll see that little spiky thing sticking
kind of straight up, and that's called the spear, and
it will unfold into the frond and it will it
will become a beautiful front. At one point it's almost
like ah, so it's almost like a caterpillar becoming a

beautiful butterfly, except as a leaf. Except as a leaf.
And if you've ever seen the palms that have you know,
we we talked about the stem, how it's just sort
of that rough scar all the way up. Sometimes you'll
see him that have a really smooth green part that
kind of looks like uh. And we'll get to coconuts
kind of looks like the very outside of a big coconut.

That's called the crown shaft. The king palm is famous
for these, and that's that little smooth green section between
where the trunk is rough and where the leaves pop
out of the top right, and all those are are
the like layered leaves folded around the top of the stem.
And as they as those leaves unfold and become fronds
and hang out and photosynthesize, and then the energy stores

that they have is used up and they fall off.
Those kinds of palms, they fall off very cleanly, so
compared to other rougher um rougher exterior palms, like a
king palm is very smooth, even below the crown shaft
where it's kind of gray and layered in horizontal stripes.
That's but those are still scars left from the leaves

that used to be attached there, that unfolded at the
crown shaft and grew and lived and died and then
fell off. There's so many weird sexual innuendos with palm trees.
I had no idea, no idea. It explains a lot
about how I felt about palm trees for a long time.
I had no idea. It probably doesn't hurt that we're
twelve years old, because there are plenty people out there, like,

what have they been talking about? Yeah, that's true. Those
are eight years old. Uh. So let's talk about these
palm fronds or the palm leaves. Uh. There are a
few different kind of shapes they can take. Uh, there's
the feather like pinnate. Uh. If you see a coconut palm,
this is what you're gonna see as a couple of
rows of those of those leafs kind of sprawling out

from that central rib down the middle. That rib is
called a ratcheus, and where it meets and this is
a lot of sort of you know, technical talk here,
but the thick part where it actually meets the trunk,
that's called the petiole. Yeah, where the rat ratchetus meets
the trunk, right, that's right. And then those leaves are
all individual. They're just connected. The only place where they

join is that that rack is at the central rib um.
But other than that, they're not connected, which makes them
different from a palmate um type of half. Those are good.
Those are those are really good. I think palmate might
be my favorite. Where they're there, they seemed disconnected, but
if you follow them back to their terminal point where
they connect to the branch. You'll see that they're all

connected at one central point and they're kind of fanned
out almost in a circle or semicircle, radiating away from
that one central point where they're all connected. Um, and
that's that central point is called the hastula. So that's palmate.
That's another good one. And there's cost to palmate, right, Yeah,
the cost of poll made is a little bit of both.

If you like a little pinnate, you like a little
palm mate, then you get your cost to palm mate.
That is the fan shape as well, and it is
attached to a central rib called a costa, and that
it's extends from that pettiole into that leaf blade. Uh.
You know when it's it's interesting when these things fall off,
those those fan shaped ones and you gather them off

the ground, you really get a sense of their potential uses,
which you know, we'll talk about that stuff a little
bit later, but like primitive uses as a fan or
as a broom or you know, they're all kinds of things. Things.
When you have a big handful of those those dead
palm fronds, you can see even you know here in
modern times, like I could see how this could be useful. Yeah,

just think about how much thought the writers of Gilligan's
Island put into that. Yeah right, I can't watch that
show anymore. How about you. I haven't tried in a
long time. Why why not? I think it's just rain
its course in my brain. It was great when I was,
you know, a younger person. Now I'm like, this is
I can't watch this. Yeah. I had a recurring dream

when I was a kid. The first recurring dream I
remember had to do with Gilligan's Island. But it was scary,
like the boat was washed ashore on the beach, and
I remember I was in the back kind of hiding,
uh from somebody who was trying to get me or something.
But I had that dream over and over for a while.
So wait a minute, somebody was trying to get you
while you were in the ship that was being shipwrecked. No,

it had already been shipwrecked, and it was just like,
you know, a shipwrecked boat on shore that I was
hiding and like behind the back seat, did you ever
figure out who it was? No? You know, I don't
think I've ever had a recurring dream. All of my
dreams are all original material. Every time Huh, that's interesting.
I think so too. Did you have imaginary friends? No? No, no,

they seem silly and superfluous to me. Someone just the
only reason I've thought of that is because someone sent
that in as a as a request and saying that
imaginary friends is a sign of later successes in various
ways supposedly. Well, that explains a lot as well. But
look at you now. I don't know, but think about

how successful I could be if I had had imaginary friends.
I could be president of the world. My daughter has
what she calls ghost friends and always has and now
ghost parents, and we wonder sometimes if that is something
to do with being adopted, oh yeah, or if it's
just the regular imaginary friend thing with kids, or your

house is haunted and she can see things you can't,
or that that's number three be pretty awesome. I mean
she's spelling it out for you. Chalk right there. All right?
Should we take another break? Sure? All right, we'll talk
about those uh not so beautiful palm flowers right after this.

All right, If you've ever walked past the palm tree
and you've seen a what looks like a blob of
yellow or orange, orange is a big one. Yeah, I mean,
what do they even look like? They look like just
a little tiny grape bunches, but but not really. They're
not very attractive to me, But I guess beauties in

the eye the beholder. Those are palm, the flower of
the palm tree. So one thing I have to say, though, is,
Chuck you you would probably have your eyes open if
you spend a little time on Google images looking at
different palm inflorescences. Some of them are okay, yeah, there's
some that are just straight up dazzling. I saw one
that was like a nice pink and it looks like
a really tight like you now, sometimes people have like

dreadlocks that are have been around so long they actually
merged into one big dread It looks like that, but
like a pinkish purple, yes, but a hot pinkish purple
version of that. It's very pretty. Um And again, there's
like twenty undred or more species of palm, so there's
a lot of different variety. But that said, I agree

with you, most of the palm inflorences inflorenceances I've ever seen,
or not pretty at all. I think what my problem
is is I feel like it disturbs even the pretty
ones that it doesn't jibe with the rest of the look. Yeah,
so it looks like like a really attractive person wearing
maybe a really nice hat, but that doesn't go with

the rest of the outfit. Okay, all right, I totally
get your meaning, and I think you nailed it. It
just doesn't seem to fit in. But you keep calling
them inflorescences instead of flowers. What do you mean by that? Well,
I mean inflorescence is just another name for a palm flower,
and palm is a It's an antio sperm, which is

by definition, a flowering plant. It just doesn't look like
what you and I would think of as flowers, but
that's exactly what it is. And with the palm, from
what I can tell, everything is a frond. It's some
sort some version of a frond, and the inflorescence is
no no exception. It's a specialized, weirdo version of the

of the palm frond that grows out and depending on
the kind of palm, it's going to have either male flowers,
female flowers, or it's going to have male and female
flowers in which cases off pollinating. And the upshide of
all this is is when the female flowers get pollinated,
they will produce fruit. And because we're talking abouferent species

of palms, you get a lot of different kinds of
fruit that come along. Yeah, it's it's pretty interesting actually,
Like if you look at your standard coconut palm that
has both the male and female parts, so that makes
it monoecious. Uh, this is stuff that we learned in
high school biology. Again, I haven't seen that word in
so long, I know, I even was calling it monoecious

for a while. I was like, I, No, that's not right,
that's what I was remember. No, it's monoecious and dioecious.
Those ohs are silent and dioecious. Palms only have male
flowers or female flowers. Uh. And like you said, depending
on the fruit. You know, if you're if you're a
coconut palm, uh, then you're gonna have both, but you

gotta fertilize that that female flower. If you're a date palm, uh,
it's dioecious, so you can only harvest from the l tree.
But you need to have both again to fertilize and
get that delicious bad date. But that is dates are
actually a fruit from palms from appropriately enough date palms.

I didn't know that. I didn't either, and dates are
delicious in this um. Researching this made me want this.
But I if I had to choose, I'm a fig
person for sure. Or figs from a palm? No, no,
big tree. Yeah, but there's like, you know, dried fruit
dates and figs. They're so they're so you know, uh,
they seem to go hand in hand. So I don't

think you have to choose, which is is just a
stupid thing to even bring up. I'm sorry I did well.
I don't know that I've ever had. In fact, I
can almost say certainly I've never had a fresh date,
like right off of a tree. You mean, yeah, like that,
you know, not dried and not like raisins or fig style,
but like in the Raider's Lost Ark, the bad date.

Those are bad dates, bad dates. It's right that poor monkey,
I mean, it was an evil monkey, but I think
he was trained to be evil. Oh you think with
the Nazi salute? Yes, I don't think he was born
knowing how to do that. I think he was trained
to do that and it made him a bad, bad monkey.
But I still don't think he deserved to be poisoned
by bad dates. You know that movie is uh has

been under fire in recent years because of the the
nature of India's relationship with Marilyn Marian and how old
she was. Oh yeah, and he's also like fairly rough
with her as well. Yeah, but there's this there's those
lines at the beginning where he talks about you know,
you know what you were doing, you know, I was
a child or whatever. And I think for many years

everyone's just like, yeah, whatever, and then someone's like, wait
a minute, how much of a child was she? And
I think people have tried to do the math over
the years to work it out so with the time
period where it wasn't that bad. But I do know
that in discussion this something I talked on movie Crush
a little bit about. But Lucas and Spielberg, when they
were discussing it all at the beginning, one of them

was pushing at the time for him to make it
like creepy, Like no, man, let's make it really young
and make it really kind of a bad thing that
he did. Was that George Lucas doing that? I think
it might have been. I don't know. I should look
all the stuff up so I'm not you know, I'm glad.
Spielberg was like, yeah, yeah, great idea, A great idea.
We'll definitely will workshop that later. Uh. Anyway, bad dates,

bad dates, and um dates. By the way, Chuck, are droops,
as are all palm fruits. Did you know that? I
didn't know that, but I did know that they were
similar to peaches and olives, and say, what peaches and cream? Yeah,
peaches and cream. And in the way that they they
had that hard outer that kind of stony like covering
around the seed, right, but they're usually also covered with

some sort of flesh that we like to eat. Um,
that's not always the case. So I think coconuts are
the reverse of that. So like, if you're eating like
a peach, the seed itself is that hard is inside
the hard pit in the fruit. The coconut seed. No,
a coconut is the opposite of that. It's got that hard,

woody outer shell you can knock, knock, knock on, just
and have some fun with before you It's exactly right, Chuck,
nice Um that you're m actually knows that's the endocarp
the hardest part that you knock on the carpet. You're
talking about the hard green outer most layer. No, that
would be the exocarp. The endocarp is the hard brown,

woody one that that you can knock on and then
you can use as a bowling ball island exactly or
like a tiki cocktail cup all again on Killick's island. Um.
And uh, it's the stuff inside that that's the actual seed,
and that's what we eat in the coconut, the the
endosperm and the liquid endosperm um, the stuff you eat

from a coconut, that's actually the seed that you're eating
where it's like a peach, you're eating the outside of
the meat that's outside of the of the seed, right,
And that indo sperm is the the solid part is
that flesh, that white, delicious nous coconut. And then the
coconut water is the liquid into sperm. So if you

next time your friend is having a coconut water, to
sco up to them and say, entroy the liquid indo
sperm and they'll say, what are you talking about? You
can't say stuff like that. They'll do a spit take.
I hope not. Because that coconut water is delicious, it
is and expensive too. And if you're like, well, wait
a minute, I thought coconut water was coconut milk. You

are wrong, wrong, wrong. Coconut milk is taking coconut meat,
grating it up into a paste and then adding water
to that. That that's coconut milk. That's delicious too, it is,
it's super high. In fact, if they're really healthy fats, understand,
that's a good fat and it um. I'm not a
big sort of Caribbean drink cocked guy. But oh you

don't like the tinky drinks. No, I'm not really into them,
just a little too sweet. I mean maybe one of them,
but uh, they're a little sweet for me. But that
that coconut milk man with some with some rum is
a really nice combination. You know, people have been drinking
that for eons for good reason. They sure have. You
know what else they've been drinking even longer than that,
chuck a little something called palm wine. Oh yeah, so

I didn't know that this existed, but it sounds awesome.
But you're there are a lot of different kinds of
palm species that you can tap, including I think coca yeah,
coconut palms and date palms and the Chilean wine palm,
which they're like, well, yeah, of course, but you can
tap the sap of these things and what comes out

contacts the air and just a little bit amount of
like microbes in the air that come in contact with
the stuff immediately cause it to start to ferment, and
within hours it has gone from palm sap to an
alcoholic beverage. And then hours after that, within about a
day or so of it being tapped, it turns into vinegar.

So you have to drink this stuff which turns into
like a four percent alcoholic drink just by sitting out
in the air a few hours after it's tapped, within
a day of tapping it, yeah, which is why it
is one of the oldest boozes because you could get
it quickly and pretty naturally, you didn't have to do
anything for And apparently they've caught monkeys actually drinking it too.

Oh yeah, yeah, like it. They I think they found
evidence that of humans drinking it as far back as
eighteen thousand years ago. It's a very long time um
and that because they've caught um like primates other primates
drinking it's possible that it goes even further back in
our evolutionary history. Very interesting. I thought so too. There's

also palm oil, uh that is in food products, It's
in a lot of um skin products. It is uh
sort of an environmental disaster these days. There are plantations
in Indonesia Malaysia where basically you just clear cut forest
to plant more palms to get palm oil. And getting

um quote unquote sustainably sourced palm oil is difficult, too
impossible for your products. Uh. There are some people that
say there is no such thing and that if it's
something is labeled officially sustainable, They're like, well, no, just
go back fifteen or twenty years and there was once
natural forest growth there too. So it's kind of a
meaningless title when just a handful of years have to

go by before you say, oh no, no, no, this
this palm field was here already. Like from what I understand,
this is just not the case. Yeah. That was one
of those things where I looked into I was like,
oh good, another reason to to um be pessimistic and
loose hope. There's the akai those little kai berries. I
didn't know they came from palms? Is it a kaya
tho asi? I've always said a kai, but it's probably

a sid never said it out loud. So there it's
like supposed to be a super food rich in antioxidants,
and I was like, that rings a bell. We did
an episode in anti oxidants, did we did? We surmise
that it's BS And I went back and I read
a transcript of it and um, it may bee So
take that however you like. But it definitely does have

all sorts of antioxidants, including antho cyanins, because that's where
it has its purple color from the s E does Okay,
is it really a sai? I feel foolish as I've
never heard it said. Well, now you have from your
good pal Josh. I don't think I've ever said it

out loud until now in front of millions of you.
Are right, So it's no biggie. You've got the hearts
of palm, of course, that you'll find usually in a
can on a shelf in your grocery store. Is that's
the apical Maris stem chuck. That is it's just about
to say that, and it is right there at the core.
You get them in Hawaii and Costa Rica or places

in South America, and you chopped that thing down and
it's got that little, that little tender core. And the
reason it's usually in a canus because it's doesn't last
very long. Yes, uh so it's pickled typically, right yeah? Um?
What about battle nuts? Did you know about those before?
Because I had heard of them, but I had no

idea what the video was. I knew. I knew about
them because I know that chewing them, which is popular
in certain Asian countries, is can be really bad for you.
It can make your teeth like red and black and
give you cancer. But it's a stimulant, right, Yeah, it
gives you a pretty good butt, so it all works
out in the end, does it really? Something like of

the people in the world chew battle nuts and that
makes it the fourth most used um psychoactive um material
I guess or substance after um nicotine, caffeine, alcohol and
then battle nuts. What about rich hand If you've ever
been to peer one import since sat in a in

a wicker one? Are those things called the big bowl?
Oh papasan chick papasan that is made from palm ritan, uh,
from Ritan palms, and it's very hardy. And you know
how I mentioned that those fronds are very useful, Like
this is the stuff over the years that they use
faun fronds for for rooftops and ratan to make really

strong furniture, very useful. Yeah, I had no idea, but
ratan has really wicked mean barbs and thorns sticking off
of it because it uses it to climb up other trees.
Um and the stem is really pliable. It's not you know, upright,
but it grows vertically, but it's like a vine. And

apparently the stem can get up to like five feet long.
It's a lot of it's a lot of pure one wicker,
a lot of wicker. What was the name of that chair?
Do you remember the chair that they would sit in
for prom pictures in the seventies, the eyes a case
like Moses, Yes, yeah, exactly. I don't know. There's a throne,

sort of throne. That's exactly right. That's a chair too.
So I guess we should finish up with a couple
of little fun facts. One of them. Dave included a
few of these. The double coconut palm has uh. I
don't know if it's the largest seed. Is it the
largest one in the world? Yes? Okay, A mature coconut

from that double coconut palm can weigh about ninety pounds
and the seed inside is about fifty five. And Dave said, uh,
something about the way they look I can't remember exactly
how he put it, suggestive, suggestive. And I looked it
up and it looks like a butt. Oh, that's not
what it suggested to me. I thought it looked like

a butt in an an anus. Did you think it
looks like female parts? No, just but just come around
to the other side of a dude. You thought it
looked like a scrotal sack. Yes, yeah, well put I
thought it looked like a button, a butt hole. No,
it looked like I mean, I could see how you
would think that, But it looked like a scrotal sac

to me. I thought that was the avocado. That's that's what. Yeah,
for sure, avocado has got it going on too. I've
got one more fact? What else? What else do you have? Nothing?
I want to hear your last fact? Well, I think
it'd be kind of fun to just talk about what
happened in Florida with all those palms. Oh yeah, I'd
love to do that. This is a good one. This

the reason Florida has so many palms is because of
a shipwreck in January of eight seventy eight, the Spanish
brigantine that the Providencia crash landed with a bunch of
coconuts on board. Yeah, coconuts and a bunch of other stuff.
But there were like twenty thousand coconuts, and a guy

named William lane Heart who was one of the early
pioneers along this this um like um settlers of European descent,
i should say, along this stretch of Florida Beach where
this this shipwreck happened. I bought the whole um shipwreck
and all of its cargo for like twenty dollars and
proceeded to try to sell the coconuts for what was it,

like two cents each or a half of two and
a half cents, and he sold about a thousand but
still it's like a couple of hundred bucks. He like,
you know, yeah, ten times over. And then he said,
I think I'm just gonna plant the rest of these
I think it would be easier than trying to drum
up a market for these things. And that's it. That's

where palm beaches now. Yeah, the all of the coconut
um palms that you see, they are not native. They
are descended from that original shipwreck cargo of coconuts. Very
very cool. It is very cool indeed. And also check
they mentioned Henry Flaggler in there is Founding Palm Beach
and West Palm Beach and he if college that's right,

and Flagler County. He was like an old Ford executive
who made his money, uh well from working at Ford
early on and then started like a railroad and then
started like founded Palm Beach and was just fabulously wealthy.
But um, you know, I know we've talked about going
to Providence, Rhode Island and touring some of those old
Gilded Age mansions. He has one in Palm Beach. So

if you ever make your way down to Palm Beach,
go see the Flaggler House Museum. It's one of the
most amazing houses you will ever walk in in your
entire life. It's astounding. I will check that out. My
uh best friend from high school uh rad the uh
map drawer of the cartographer. Yeah, he went to Flagler.
So I went to and this was in St. Augustine though,

but um, I went to Flagler. A couple of times
in St. Augustine is a lovely town. We'll just make
your your way a little further south a couple of
hours down to Palm Beach and check out Flaglers. I'll
do it. Okay. Uh, Well, since Chuck said I'll do it,
that means, of course, everybody, it's time for listener mayo.
I'm gonna call this Josh and the Simpsons. I'm sure

you saw this. I figured we could just answer this
on the air because I think I know the answer
is worried about this, Hey guys, that we were going
to read it. Okay, hey, guys, just listen to the
hot Dog episode. I was a little surprised at Josh
let the whole episode go by without citing Homer's famous
line about hot dogs from the episode where he tries
to get into the grease business. Then I realized this
is a phenomenon I've noticed several times. Like Josh, I'm

a Simpson super fan, so I feel like I have
to take issue with everyone who has written in to
say you missed this quote or citation. On the contrary,
what's happening, I think is Josh's biting his tongue and
letting I would guess one to three opportunities passed by
for episode because he doesn't want to be known primarily
is that Simpson's dork and avoid owing royalties to Matt graining. Josh,

please validate my hunch that is from g. You're not
holding your tongue, are you. Occasionally I do, actually, very
very rarely. I think g is giving me way too
much credit. And at the risk of of sounding like
a fraudulent Simpsons fan, there are a ton of references

that people right in and be like, you walked right
past this one, and I'll be like, I don't remember
that one at all, or I totally forgot about it.
I didn't think about that. But every once in a
while I will hold it back because you just have
to keep the proportion of Simpson's fandom like at a
at a certain threshold. Other than that stuff you should

know is like, it's stuff you should know. The Simpsons
fans were more well rounded than that. So yes, every
once in a while, I do, not three times an episode. No,
that's what I'm saying. That's a that's over crediting me
for sure. Fantastic. Well, thanks again, Gene. If you want
to be like G and ask a question or see
if your hunch is confirmed. Send it to us via

email to stuff podcast at iHeart radio dot com. M H.
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