Although taxonomy of palms (Arecaceae) is fairly well known, many problems remain and this is, in part, due to the difficultly of representing palm diversity with herbarium specimens. For the first time in Arecaceae, Jeanson et al. test the ultility of DNA barcoding, examining 40 out of the 48 species of the south-east Asian tribe Caryoteae (subfamily Coryphoideae). The results show 92 % species’ discrimination, which is a high rate for a barcoding experiment. They find that the two recommended ‘core’ markers, rbcL and matK, have a low discrimination rate and need to be supplemented by another marker, with nrITS2 being the preferred choice for Caryoteae.