Ceylon Palmyra -The Wish Granting Tree
There is a species of tree that grows in plenty of areas in Sri Lanka. This tree is quite widely known, but you would be surprised at how much more special this tree actually is. It is none other than the the useful, the mighty, the good ol friend of the coconut tree...The Palmyra Tree! You would see palmyra trees (Borassus flabellifer) bordering many of the beaches in Sri Lanka. The romantic mystery to observe though, are the brightly coloured umbrellas you catch sight of under the palm trees at the beach. In-depth observation skills would reveal couples under the umbrellas trying to sneak some time alone from their strict parents or their pestering friends and to these couples the Palmyra tree is almost a fairy godmother.
The Palmyra tree in Sri Lanka and in several parts of India is considered to be much more than an ordinary tree. The palm tree holds a celestial value to these people and has been believed to be a divine tree that grew right in Heaven.
It is said that there exists no part of this tree that is rendered useless. Every single part of the tree from root to leaf has been of great use to man for centuries that it was bestowed the name of “The Wish Fulfilling Tree” in some parts of Sri Lanka.
To all the inhabitants of Sri Lanka or the former Ceylon, the Palmyra tree also holds a great cultural value. The art of weaving palmyra leaves into various ornaments and objects have been practiced for thousands of years. Through time this art eventually became a family tradition and today you can still find several families who follow their ancestors and earn a living weaving palmyra products.
The objects they manage to create range from beautiful ornate items to day-to-day objects. These creations also prove extremely useful and handy! To top it all, there is that factor of cuteness in any palmyra ornament you come across, what with all their colours and details that just looking at them is so delightful.
Here are just some of the ways in which The Palmyra Tree has been a gift to man.
Palmyra leaf products are quite popular in Sri Lanka and is also one of the family-handcrafting traditions you can still find today. The leaves when dried become quite sturdy with excellent tensile strength. These leaves are then collected to weave a variety of creations! It is used to weave baskets, sifts, utensils such as disposable bowls and plates, for decorative ornaments and even for something as large as picnic mats and palmyra-leaf roofs! In the more dryer areas of Sri Lanka the Palmyra leaf-roofs provide excellent cooling-hut experience! The use of the leaves don’t stop there, after the repeated use of the leaves, they are eventually used up completely as feed for cattle.
Before the use of sugar, the pulp of the palmyra fruit was commonly used for any sweet desserts. Its light chewy texture made it the perfect ingredient for varieties of toffees! The sweetness was more than enough to fill a glass of delicious juice too.
Seed of the Palmyra Fruit:
The tender seed or kernel of the palmyra fruit is a sweet soft centre that is eaten as a sweet delight and often competed over between children as to who finds the most tender, sweetest treasure!
From a specific part of the Palmyra flower, a liquid called ‘Toddy’ is obtained. This is a liquid consumed instead of alcohol or wine. When you walk by a palmyra farm you would find several clay pots tied up on the tree for collecting the intoxicating sap that oozes out.
Palmyra Tree Trunk:
The strong sturdy trunks of the palmyra tree are used as the ‘concrete’ support beams when building houses in smaller rural areas.
The root is usually snacked on in many ways, it can be boiled and eaten like potatoes or dried up and sweetened as a movie snack. The root when dried has the perfect type of dryness for the use of firewood.
With all these incredible uses of the Palmyra Tree it doesn’t even need constant watering! All trees teach us something beautiful but this tree isn't a great one on the looks, isn't a bright one with the fruits, it isn't even a wide one by the size, but the Palmyra Tree will always hold a special place in the heart of Sri Lanka.