Experts propose to encourage the reproduction of the royal palm

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Havana, May 28 (ACN) Experts linked to botany propose giving greater weight to the royal palm in reforestation programs, because of its environmental benefits and to help prevent it from disappearing from vast plains where it hardly reproduces naturally.

The sensitive decline in the population of the Cuban National Tree is a cause for concern because of its low capacity for natural regeneration, since individuals of different ages are not observed in populations of open ecosystems, say the experts.

They also believe that knowledge should be expanded about the germination characteristics of the Roystonea regia (scientific name), in order to encourage its propagation through massive reforestation plans.

In order to contribute to this effort, there is a technical guide for cultivating and using the royal palm, aimed at agricultural producers, prepared by Raúl Verdecia Pérez and agricultural engineers Milián Rodríguez Lima and Duanny Suárez Oropesa.

Perhaps there is no other plant that provides more complete benefits to the farmer than the royal palm, which can be used integrally, emphasizes the manual prepared in 2010 and now updated, in the desire to apply knowledge derived from more than 30 years of research on palms by these and other specialists.

Given its importance and economic, social and cultural value, inventories of the Roystonea regia were carried out throughout the country; however, in few localities it constitutes a dominant species, the authors of the guide underline.

The technical instructions delve into the ecology of the species, its management, sowing, cultivation and harvesting; they also dedicate specific chapters to cultural attention and to the peculiarities of the seeds and postures, the starting point for successful reforestation.

Experts point out that the royal palm, with its melliferous flowers, is an indispensable part of Cuban ecosystems, serving as food for many animals (including pigs) or as a nest for a variety of feathered animals, such as mockingbirds, parrots and tocororos, Cuba’s national bird.

They stress that all parts of this plant, which can live up to 200 years, are useful to both humans and animals.

Its flower spatulas are used to make cataurs (non-woven baskets), and the fruits (palmiche) are used as food for pigs, as they present a diversity of metabolites, among which are lipids, triterpenes, steroids, flavonoids, phenols and tannins, which are important in the development of new active ingredients for the pharmaceutical industry.

The seeds contain up to 28 % of oil, useful for making soap; the dried clusters serve as rustic brooms, and the tender bud can be used as food (palm heart).

Its trunk can be used to make pylons, drying boards for coffee and cocoa, as well as to form the walls of houses or other rural constructions; the young leaves are used to make seats and cushions, and the yaguas are used to wrap the cured tobacco leaves in thirds.

Cooking from the root is used as a diuretic, to help expel kidney stones, and for the treatment of diabetes.

Besides being a sacred tree for certain religions spread in Cuba, it is used as an ornamental plant in gardens, avenues and parks.

If we wish to restore -as far as possible- our ecosystems, we must include this and other species of palms, because of the functions they have in Cuban nature, conclude the authors of the technical instructions for agricultural producers and those involved in reforestation programs.

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