Hearts of palm has been eaten for thousands of years in Central and South America. Even prior to Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World, the Carib Indians were eating both the nuts and the hearts of palm of the sabal Palmetto tree, while using its bark and leaves as building material. In Florida, where they also grow abundantly, the trees were cut down as a food source during the Great Depression. The sabal Palmetto tree is now the state tree of Florida and is a protected species under state law.
The fruit of the palm was most important source of foof in precolumbain times.