This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Linnaeus rightly called the Palms the princes of the vegetable world, for they surpass all other plants in the grandenr and majesty of their port. Cuba possesses such numbers, and a considerable variety, that the Laplander from the United States, who has only seen them cramped in hothouses, is perpetually delighted. Their lofty stem, supported by a mass of fibrous roots, which frequently creep along the surface of the ground, consists of wood with longitudinal fibres, soft in the centre, but hard as horn itself at the circumference. The fruit is a drupe, or berry-nut, with either a fibrous or fleshy coat. Most of the species are confined within fixed and narrow bounds, few extending over a large extent of surface. Von Martius thinks it probable that the number of Palms will be found, by future travellers, to amount to as many as a thousand species. In the times succeeding the deluge, they appear, from the written evidences of historians and poets, to have followed the footsteps of man, to whom their fruit yielded food, drink, and oil; their stems, houses, arms, utensils, flour, and wine; and their leaves, cordage, and roofs for habitation.
In cultivation, their soil should be slightly saline.
See that Palms receive abundance of water, and if any of the plants are intended for planting outside in summer, they must be kept cool for that purpose, for the foliage is tender, and even the hardiest will suffer from the change; it is best, if possible, to prevent these making any young leaves until they do so in the open air; many varieties do well and are splendid plants for pleasure ground decoration, if prepared for that purpose; but when the plants are required for greenhouse decoration, and large plants are required as quick as possible, then no class of plants will stand more heat and moisture; and it is astonishing in how short a time a small plant will develop into a fine specimen; this magnificent class of plants have been neglected, until recently, in this country, but in a few years they will be as popular as they have been in Europe for a long time, and will be employed at every grand display by every one of cultivated taste.