Letter From America
Tamar Myers, our very own correspondent in the
U.S.A., makes the first of her quarterly contributions.
Mrs. Tamar Myers, 6303 Hallwood Road, Verona, PA 15147, U.S.A.
Chamaerops No. 1, published online 23-11-2002
on this article:
Click here to read them or to add your own.
First, allow me to say how much I enjoyed my association
with you European Palm Fans. Don't tell the Americans this, but
you were by far the most enthusiastic TZC'ers, and the most diligent
in submitting articles. If it hadn't been for you, the TZC would
have folded years ago. So, thanks for all your hard work, and for
all those interesting articles (even with your funny spelling).
Now, on to the Super Sabals in September I was invited
down to Texas to view some curious palms. The trip was courtesy
of an avid palm enthusiast who, as it turned out, was not so courteous.
So although the trip had some major negative points (some palm nuts
really are nuts), I got to see a lot of interesting palms.
The focal point of the trip was a population of
wild Sabal minor, growing in the hill country of west-central Texas.
These palms had been discovered growing in semi-arid uplands, at
elevations of up to 2000ft (615m). They are the most westward occurring
of the species.
Normally, Sabal minor is found in coastal or swampy
situations, or along the banks of slow-moving rivers. It is most
definitely a lowland palm, and how this isolated population found
its way to the hilly ranch lands is anybody's guess. It may well
have been coyotes or birds that carried the seed, but nonetheless
it is remarkable that the resulting seedlings survived in this new
The region gets only about 20" (50cm) of rain
a year and although the temperature often tops 100°F in the
summer months, it can also drop to -30°F (-35°C) in the
After the big build-up my less than gracious host
had given the palms, I was a bit disappointed to see them in person.
They were rather runty looking things, growing in a rocky cattle
pasture, and barely visible from the road. Still, it was remarkable
that they should be there at all.
But what was even more remarkable was their progeny
that my host had planted a mere 80 miles (130km) away in the city.
These plants were from seed collected from the pasture Sabals and
were about 10 years old. These relatively young plants were easily
5 times the size of their parents. While the parent plants amounted
to nothing more than a few fan shaped leaves sticking out of the
ground about 2ft (60cm) tall, the young plants were easily 12ft
These cultivated palms (and they were planted in
rich soil and well watered) had at least 5ft (150cm) of fat trunk
each, and their leaves probably measured 5ft by 5ft., and of course
there was the petiole length as well. They did in fact look like
young, vigorous Sabal palmetto (which always grow trunks) except
that they lacked the midrib extension into the leaf, and their haphazard
leaf arrangement, which pegged them as mere Sabal minors.
So, what is the point, you ask? Why is this pseudo-American
babbling on and on about some stupid species that can't even grow
in Europe because it needs enough heat to make Satan sweat? Well,
I'll tell you. My point is that there are things we can do in cultivation
that can greatly alter a palm s appearance and growth rate.
Although some Sabal minor do grow trunks in the
wild, this process normally takes 20 years or more. And never do
Sabal minors grow that large in nature. So consider the palms you
have. Experiment with the amount and type of nourishment you are
currently supplying them with. There well may be a number of things
you can do to speed up their growth rate, and turn them into those
lush symbols of the tropics we all dream about. 'Experimentation'
is not a dirty word amongst palm enthusiasts; 'timidity' is.
But whatever you do, don't accept a free trip anywhere
unless you've done your homework first. And if you ever get an offer
from a certain Texas city (no, not Houston!), check with me first,
lest you fancy being squired around town by the Host from Hell.
Till next time...
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20-01-21 - 13:35GMT
|| What's New?
|| New palm book
| Date: 24-05-2004
of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft.
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by Mario Stähler
This german book tells you all about how to cultivate your palms in Central Europe. more...