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Just a short letter, which may be of interest to
readers of Chamaerops, on the subject of germinating difficult seeds.
For those who have tried, without success, to germinate those granite-like
seeds of palms such as Parajubaea or Butia, I can report on a method,
which has had some success and interesting results.
The idea came to me after reading a German seed
list that I sent for some years ago, which suggested using pure
vermiculite as a sterile medium in which to germinate palm seeds.
I recalled a Cornish nurseryman who had made attempts to germinate
'Coquito' nuts (i.e. the kernels of Jubaea chilensis), but without
success, due to them rotting in his peat-based compost. I decided
to try for myself and bought a tray of Coquitos from Sainsbury's
at about 60 for £1.50. Planted in pure vermiculite in a small
heated propagator and kept moist, 10 of the shelled seeds germinated.
In fact the sinkers grew so fast that some of them died by coming
into contact with the hot base of the propagator, but at least the
experiment was a success. I hadn't heard of a shelled palm seed
of this type being germinated before. I decided to try again, using
a similar method, pure vermiculite, kept moist in plastic bags.
The target - germination of Parajubaea cocoides seeds, well known
to be difficult. Ten seeds were purchased for the experiment and
planted in the bags, as described above, 10 months ago. Two of the
seeds germinated after 9 months in a semi-warm airing cupboard.
Again success; hopefully the rest will follow. As soon as germination
takes place the seeds can be transferred to a normal growing medium;
the Jubaeas in normal fashion threw up a single leaf during their
first summer and settled down to slow progress. The Parajubaeas
are under constant observation, but should do well. I'm now about
to try the same method with a batch of Syagrus glaucescens, and
I'd recommend it to anyone having difficulty with germinating tricky
By the way, if no one else has investigated the
Sefton Park Butias I will try and make a visit. I live about 1 1/2
hours south of Liverpool.
Steve Powell, Shropshire
Please do! And take your camera! MG
Palms In Turkey
In answer to your plea in the last issue of Chamaerops.
There is not a 'real' botanic garden in Turkey, although there are
some small ones in the big universities of Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir,
etc. There is one park in Ankara called 'Botanical Garden' but with
very few species of trees. There are some old and beautiful gardens
in Istanbul, but these are also not botanical gardens in the strict
sense. Apart from one in Istanbul there is another arboretum, privately
owned, in Yalova, about 150km south-east of Istanbul, with very
good specimen trees, especially Acer species. I am afraid most botanists
and agriculturalists in Turkey are not very adventurous, which is
why I began my palm business. I want to introduce new palms to Turkey
as at the moment the only ones we have outside seem to be Washingtonia
(both species), Phoenix canariensis, P. dactylifera, P. theophrastii
(the only native), Trachycarpus fortunei and probably Chamaerops
humilis. By the way, Professor M. Boydak from the Forestry Faculty
of the University of Istanbul has located a new occurrence of Phoenix
theophrastii somewhere near Bodrum in the southwest of our country.
I hope to send more information about the palms
in Turkey as you have suggested, in 1994.
Dr. Ragip Esener, Samsun, Turkey
Thank you for Editions 10 and 11 of your splendid
magazine, which I found informative and well written. The colour
photographs in Edition 10 were particularly pleasing and my wife
has now framed these for wall display.
Palms in Saudi? Besides the endemic Phoenix dactylifera
and the ubiquitous Washingtonias, the only palms I've seen growing
outdoors in Saudi over the 20 years I've spent here are Doum palms
(Hyphaene) growing in a Wadi east of Medina and on the Tihama Plain
adjacent to the Red Sea. These are also endemic. Jeddah has now
landscaped its Corniche with Cocos, which grow quite well in that
region due to its proximity to the Red Sea. They can also be grown
in the Eastern Province, which lies on the Arabian Gulf. However,
they will not grow in Riyadh, which lies in the centre of the Peninsula.
There are also two imported Sabal palms (species unknown), which
were planted 6 years ago outside a central Riyadh nursery. I have
also been very surprised to see approximately 10 full size Royals
(Roystonea) growing in a public garden in the centre of Riyadh.
As you know, Royals are usually tropical and for them to grow in
a fully arid environment like central Saudi Arabia is very unusual;
indeed a significant number of Roystoneas were specially flown in
from Florida for transplanting at the Royal Reception Pavilion at
Jedda's King Abdulaziz International Airport in 1981, prior to its
opening. However they all languished and eventually expired under
the intense Arabian sun and the airport construction project manager
considered them unsuitable for Saudi Arabia. They were replaced
with Dactyliferas. Temperatures here in Riyadh can go as high as
40°c in the shade during the peak summer months (June-August)
while winter temperatures can fall as low as 0°C.
I will be finishing my contract in Saudi shortly,
and will have a 3-month spell in the Philippines (my second home)
before returning to the U.K. I will try to send you some notes on
Palm-hunting in the Phils and also hopefully some photographs.
Peter Bull, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
On the subject of obscure botanical gardens (Aburi,
Ghana; Cluj-Napoca, Romania, etc.) you may like to add this one,
discovered in an 'Intourist' tourist brochure about tours to Russia.
It is at Sukhumi, on the Black Sea Coast of Georgia, and boasts
over 500 species of plants imported from 25 countries. The palms
spotted in the brochure's photograph include Trachycarpus. Jubaea,
Washingtonia robusta and Phoenix dactylifera but I wonder what other
treasures are to be found there?
Hope you received my membership.
Dick Endt, Oratia, New Zealand
I recently holidayed in Orlando, Florida with the
family and visited the main theme parks (Disney, etc.) all of which
have good collections of palms. The 'Epcot Centre' is particularly
well landscaped with many fine specimens of Butia capitata, Phoenix
reclinata and P. roebelenii (these mainly in large tubs in shady
areas). The 'China' section is wonderful with a number of varying-sized
Trachycarpus fortunei growing in large tubs. While there we had
one or two days free and I had been told of the existence of a botanic
garden in the Orlando central area. After taking a few wrong turns
we eventually found 'Lev Gardens' and after paying a minimal admission
fee (which made a welcome change) we spent a relaxing few hours
ambling around what had once been a private garden. There is a relatively
small conservatory containing several species of the more tender
palms (Licuala, Aiphanes, etc.) together with many other interesting
The outdoor garden contains numerous species with
particularly good examples of Chamaedorea. Neodypsis is also well
represented. The Cycad garden contains a good collection of plants
and I would recommend a visit to these gardens if you are staying
in this area of Florida.
I would add that on the morning we visited, there
were few other visitors, which made a peaceful change to the hustle
and bustle and queuing in the Disney theme parks.
John Woodhead, Whitby, N. Yorks
...And, Finally, Madeira
I would like to tell you about the island of Madeira
where I recently spent a holiday. It is some 700 km west of Casablanca
and is a lovely island, surrounded by the Atlantic and the warm
waters of the Gulf Stream. It's an island of sunshine, beautiful
flowers and spectacular scenery, reputed to have been founded by
the Portuguese explorer Joao Zarco in 1419. Legend, however, claims
the discovery for an Englishman, Robert Machim, and his mistress
who were shipwrecked there in 1346.
A strong English influence was brought about by
Henry Veitch, the British Consul in 1809. He was a member of that
Devon family who in fact established the most important nineteenth
century nursery in Britain. The great gardens of Madeira are established
around Funchal, many with an English connection. It is said they
have grown rather than being created.
From the air, the island is lush, green and colourful
- breathtaking. A truly inspiring sight, which is even more enchanting
when one comes out of the small approach tunnel at the side of the
airport terminal. The following is an indication of the types of
exotics which you come across when travelling around this extraordinary
island: the Peruvian Magic Tree - Cantua buxifolia, various coral
trees - Erythrinas, the King Protea from South Africa - Protea cyanoides,
the Africa Tulip Tree Spathodia campanulata, Bird of Paradise -
Strelitzia regina, Jacaranda ovalifolia, Dracaena draco, Nolina
recurvata (Beaucarnea) and of course many others. The following
are examples of the palms dotted around here and there: Brahea armata,
Howea belmoreana, Arecastrum romanzoffianum - Queen Palm, Archontophoenix
cunninghamiana, Phoenix dactylifera, Washingtonia filifera.
The whole area around Funchal contains stunning
specimen Tree Ferns some up to 30 feet tall. Ancient cycads are
found in the park, along with Dasilyrions. Finally, Agave attenuata
with its huge swan neck flowers exists all over the island. Many
of these plants are labelled with information including the country
of origin. The Madeirans take the time and trouble to do this for
the benefit of everyone. This is a special and unique island, and
I would highly recommended it to anyone who loves plants and flowers.
David Hutchinson, Nantwich, Cheshire.
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26-05-19 - 12:00GMT
|| What's New?
|| New palm book
| Date: 24-05-2004
of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft.
|| New: Issue 48
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has been published in the Members Area.
|| Archive complete!
| Date: 03-12-2002
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|| New Book
| Date: 25-01-2001
by Mario Stähler
This german book tells you all about how to cultivate your palms in Central Europe. more...