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Martin Gibbons, c/o The Palm Centre
Chamaerops No. 8, published online 23-10-2002

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Blow That Trumpet!

This editorial should really begin with a fanfare, as the photograph on this page is the first ever published of Trachycarpus nanus. Can you believe it? Although it was discovered by Father Delavaye in 1887 and the description was published in 1910 by Beccari, a photograph has never yet appeared m print*. Neither has it ever been cultivated and I believe I am right in saying that outside of its home, there isn't a single plant any where in the world! All that is about to change, hopefully.

The photographs and what I might call its 'rediscovery' are the result of a trip that Toby Spanner and I recently undertook to Yunnan province, China, especially to look for this mysterious relative of Trachycarpus fortunei. Although it is very 'local' we found it in reasonable numbers in several locations, and collected some 1500 seeds. Because of heavy grazing by cattle and goats, and destruction of its habitat by and for agriculture, it should certainly be considered endangered, and, so far as I am aware, no efforts are being made to protect it in China. Furthermore we came across almost no seedlings so it obviously does not propagate too well in the wild. For these reasons, I am extremely glad that we were able to 'rescue' these seeds, which we will (hopefully) grow on, and distribute around the world, thus assuring the future of this attractive and little known hardy palm.

It was a very exciting trip, full of adventure, and you will certainly be able to 'read all about it' in due course. But that's not all: Dr Dransfield of Kew told me about a species of Trachycarpus that grows in northern Thailand, north of Chiang Mai, towards the border with Burma. To by and I reserved four days of our trip just to go and have a look at this palm, which grows in huge numbers on the most inaccessible limestone cliff tops. With the kind help of the Royal Thai Forestry Dept. we were able to visit the area where it grows, and after a four-hour climb in a jeep, then a very stiff four-hour climb up the side of a mountain, there they were! It's very different from any Trachycarpus that either Toby or I have ever seen. Firstly, it has a completely smooth trunk, with no fibres attached. Second, the leaves are all erect, and have regular splits. Third it has reniform (kidney-shaped) seeds, so it's not T. martianus if that's what you were thinking! What is it? Watch this space!


From China and Thailand, we now move to Romania, where we now have our first member, kindly sponsored by Kim and Penny Burton, to whom I would like to say a big thank you. After reading the appeal in the last issue of 'Chamaerops Kim & Penny generously elected to pay the membership of Dr Micle, not just for this year, but indefinitely. Well done, and thanks!

Christmas Is Coming!

On the subject of sponsoring new members, what better Christmas present for a budding palm enthusiast than a year's membership of The European Palm Society? For a mere £15 you can ensure that your present will be enjoyed long after the Christmas holiday, in fact, until the next one! New members enrolled in this way will receive a welcome letter to arrive just before December 25th, and four issues of 'Chamaerops' over the next twelve months. Just write to Tony King, Membership Organizer, EPS, 34 Keats Avenue, Romford, Essex, RM3 7AR, U.K. Payment can be by Eurocheque, cheque, Visa or Mastercard and if paying by credit card you can also fax the details through on London (081) 876 6888. And don't forget the recipient's name and address, and any message you'd like to send!

Membership List

Several people have asked about a list of members so that they can check their local area, or contact members abroad when they are travelling, or on holiday. The list costs £1 and is available either in alphabetical order of surnames, or in country/postcode order. If you would like a copy, please state which, and write to me at The Palm Centre. I will be happy to oblige.


Now here's a mystery: with all the articles that we have received and published, or have yet to publish, we haven't received one single article from a lady! Letters, yes - articles, no. I've absolutely no idea why this should be, I guess there are as many women authors generally as there are male authors, and I would think they constitute around 50% of my customers here at The Palm Centre for example. We have a good number of lady members, and yet, to date, none has put pen to paper. I would be especially pleased to receive an article from one of our lady members, and very interested to learn if anyone has any idea why this curious state of affairs should exist.


This edition marks the end of our second year, may I say our second successful year. A special thanks, then, to all contributors, large and small, as it were, for helping to make the European Palm Society what it is. I'm off to Florida next week for the International Palm Society Biennial Meeting. I hope to visit Fairchild Tropical garden, once one of the best Botanic Gardens in the world, now, sadly, largely destroyed by hurricane Andrew. However, hope springs eternal, and I understand a major replanting programme is under way. I'll let you know in Issue 9.
Martin Gibbons

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