Thinking your Palm Sunday bouquet or Mother’s Day present is a friendly and sustainable gesture? Maybe not. Thanks to the longevity of one South American palm’s leaves, overharvesting is threatening to wipe it off the map. And that’s in spite of efforts to help local farmers cultivate the plant.
The xate (pronounced “shatay”) palm’s fish-tail fronds are popular during the aforementioned holidays, and moreso because of their ability to stay green up to 40 days after cutting. But the fact that they’re being harvested from wild trees is stunting the survival rate of xate populations. Even farm cultivation instruction from outside organizations hasn’t done enough to curb the destruction.
So the next time you hit the florist’s in search of that last-minute Mother’s Day arrangement, think twice about what you’re putting on your credit card. —MN