Apr 8, 2007

Rapid Rhetoric: TALIPOT

Raphael's depiction of Plato defining the difference between true and false rhetoric This is an irregular feature - both in frequency and oddness - dedicated to a word I came across that I have never previously used.

talipot TAL-ih-paht n. A tall palm tree (Corypha umbraculifera) of India and Sri Lanka, having a spreading crown of with large, fanlike leaves.

The Talipot is among the tallest of palm trees, with a trunk up to 3 feet in diameter. Most common on the Malabar coast, the talipot grows to a height of up to 100 feet. This palm has a tremendous inflorescence high above the crown, shaped somewhat like an umbrella.

Left: 1913 painting of a flowering talipot (click for larger image)

The Talipot palm flowers only once, usually when the plant is between 30 and 80 years of age. The process of fruit maturation takes about one year, and Talipot palms produce thousands of round yellow-green fruit 1-2 inches in diameter, each of which contains a single seed. After the Talipot palm produces fruit, the plant dies.

Leaves of the Talipot palm are used as a paper substitute, and are also woven into fans and used as roof thatching.

Efforts to cultivate Talipot palms in the United States at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden came to naught in 1992, as the plants were destroyed by Hurricane Andrew.

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