Palms are emblematic of the warm moist tropics, and are almost unique among flowering plants in that they form large trees with sturdy, unbranched trunks (despite lacking true wood-forming secondary growth). Most striking are the gigantic corrugated leaves that provide a huge photosynthetic surface, yet remain mechanically strong.
Cycads are primitive non-flowering seed plants (gymnosperms) that flourished across much of the earth’s surface during the Triassic and Jurassic eras ~ 290 – 265 million years ago. Today, there are just ~ 150 species remaining in the tropics and subtropics of the Americas, Africa and Asia. They are distinguished by their palm-like appearance and cone-bearing separate sexes. They are slow-growing and resistant to drought. The stem pith is rich in carbohydrates and a staple crop in some region.
Arums often have rhizomes or tubers. Flowers emerge on a spike-like receptacle called a spadix, accompanied by a modified leaf called a spathe.
OTHER HORTICULTURAL AND EDIBLE TROPICAL PLANTS