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Long Term Forecast
Reading the Spring issue of Chamaerops I write a brief note with
reference to the severe winter just passed. As I write, the Butia
capitata, having sailed through the winter with no protection, has
put on three new leaves so far, showing that it may be more cold
hardy than first thought. Secondly, regarding cold winters, start
planting for mature specimens NOW. 1947, 1963, 1980, 1996, all severe
winters suggests 2012/13 could be the next.
Steve, South Yorkshire, UK
Bare & Rarefied
I recently spotted three hearty Juania australis about 6ft high
planted outdoors in a warm sheltered part of Rosemoor Gardens in
North Devon, England. They had been raised from Kew-supplied seed
and grown in a greenhouse until this spring when they were planted
out permanently. The "Chonta" palm as it is known in its
native Juan Fernandez Island, belongs to the subfamily Ceroxyloideae,
tribe Ceroxyleae, and grows under conditions not very different
from the cool, clouded and misty Andean heights in which Ceroxylon
thrives. lt therefore has the advantage of being a 'cool growing
island palm' and will definitely put on growth during the summer
and autumn months, but how it will cope with unfamiliar frost in
our winter is an entirely different matter! Might I suggest to the
administrator that his three fine Juanias are heavily protected
during the cold northern hemisphere winter with thick straw or hessian.
Watch this page for a progress report and Good Luck Rosemoor!
Also spotted: a bamboo with the most superb thick, corn-yellow culms
of great refinement, and highly desirable - Phyllostachys vivax
aureocaulis. This one is mandatory!
Philippe Byrne, Exeter, UK
(The Royal Horticultural Society's West of England
garden. "Robinson Crusoe's Island" Available from Drysdale
Nursery, Bowerwood Road, Fordingbridge, Hants, UK.)
Outdoors Aren't The Only Palms
I have been a member of the European Palm Society for about half
a year now. I have read several back issues and notice that most
of the articles are about growing palms outdoors throughout the
year. Since the climate of my country, Sweden, is so hard, most
palms have to be grown indoors. I have had some success with this
over the last 10 years, having collected seeds during vacations
in tropical regions. Some species that are reported in palm books
as being very difficult to cultivate indoors, I have been growing
for several years. Among these are Thrinax, Sabal yapa and Attalea
(or Orbignya). Attalea I find surprisingly easy; it withstands very
well the dry air from the radiator just below it without any damage.
But of course it will grow too big in a few years. According to
palm books its fronds will grow to about 10 metres. In my living
room climate I have found some species more sensitive than others,
such as Pritchardia, Ptychosperma, Dictyosperma, Roystonea, Coccothrinax
and Raphia, though some of these died as a result of improper watering.
Many species such as Sabal palmetto, Syagrus romanzoffiana, Phoenix
dactylifera. Roystonea regia, Washingtonia filifera, Butia capitata
and maybe Arenga engleri don't look very nice grown indoors without
extra light during Sweden's long and dark winter, especially when
compared with their beautiful natural appearance in the wild. I
would be interested to learn of other members' experiences with
growing palms indoors. Finally, a last question: Is it so that all
palms with palmate or costapalmate leaves develop leaves with remote
germination? lt would be useful to know this when potting up seedlings.
Jan Anderson, Stockholm, Sweden
I have few questions for you regarding Trachycarpus palms:
I have a small problem with my potted Trachycarpus palms (T. fortunei,
T. wagnerianus and T. takil). They are growing fine but there are
white dead spots on the leaves. What can cause this? Could it be
the high lime content of our tap water? (I always boil the water
before using it.) Or could it be lack of nutrients? I have also
had some problems with spider mites, but I think I can control this.
I know that you have been travelling much and discovered new palms
but have you ever seen T. takil in its natural habitat? Do you know
how cold it will get in winter in its native area? The reason I
ask is of course because of its potential as an ornamental plant
outdoors in southern Sweden.
I already have one small T. fortunei outdoors (which I bought at
the Palm Centre in 1992). lt has been growing in the ground for
four years now. The last winter was very harsh. I measured temperatures
as low as -17°C (the official lowest temperature at a nearby
air force station was -19°C). We even had one day when the temperature
never went above -15°C. I tried to cover my palm but it was
defoliated. But it survived. Later this spring I moved it to a warmer
and sunnier location in the garden (it didn't grow enough earlier
summers) . lt was a heavy job since it had developed a larger root
system than I had expected. I couldn't see any cold damage on the
roots. lt now has developed one new leaf and new ones are emerging.
I also visited the Botanic Garden in Copenhagen recently. They have
a T. fortunei that has been growing outdoors for about 8 years now.
The stem is now approximately 1.5m and it is 2.5 - 3m to the top
of the leaves. lt has obviously flowered a few times too. lt also
suffered leaf damage this winter but it was not defoliated.
Leif Klingstrom, Angelholm, Sweden. Via Email
I don't know what could cause white, dead spots
on the leaves. If you suspect the water, try using rainwater rather
than tapwater. If you suspect a nutrient deficiency, give it a dose
of a trace element tonic (we have 'Se questrine' in the UK. I wonder
if you have the same thing in Sweden? If not, let me know). Yes,
I saw Trachycarpus takil in the wild in 1989 and again in 1995,
in two different locations in north west India, though most of the
'hundreds' of tall, wild trees reported earlier this century have
now been cut down. It's likely to be quite a bit hardier than T.
fortunei, as it comes from at least 2,400m in the Himalayan foothills,
consequently I think it's THE palm for Sweden. M.G.
My Trachys finally managed to flower in early June, some 7 weeks
later than in recent years. As you may recall, my "Trunky Trachy
as featured in Chamaerops Spring 94, turned out to be a male palm.
The really great news is that the younger Trachy in the front garden
has flowered for the first time this year and has turned out to
be a female. She is now heavily pregnant with about 1000 young fruits.
The two palms are very different, I'm not sure if many of the differences
are just due to the different sex. I'll describe the Palms below.
The proud father is now about 11.5 feet high, with a 6.5 foot stripped
trunk, having slowed very markedly over the last two years. This
may be as a result of being too warm in the baked SSE facing corner.
He has experienced temperatures as low as -12.9°C. The leaves
are on average only 29" (75cm) across. They were much larger
until the palm grew above the 6 ft high fence, and became exposed
to the wind. The smaller leaves do not get battered as much. The
8 flower spikes are about 3 feet long, bright yellow, many branched
and droop downwards to the vertical.
The Expectant Mother is now about 9.5 feet high with a stripped
trunk of 1.5 feet and a crownshaft of 3 feet. The lower trunk has
a marked swollen base. She has experienced temperatures as low as
-9.6°C. Her leaves are truly monstrous at 44" (114cm) across.
The size of the petiole and leaf together is 61" (155cm), making
it a very wide palm. The 3 flower spikes are very different from
the male, they are 18" long, light green, many branched and
I manually pollinated the flowers by cutting off a side branch from
one on the male flower spikes and tickled it over the female flowers.
I carried out this procedure for 8 days to be sure of pollinating
all the flowers. This seems to have been quite successful and the
fruits now starting to swell (about 4mm). One question though, how
do I tell when the fruit are ripe?
The fact that both parents have proved to be quite hardy should
hopefully mean that the offspring will be more so. Provenance of
north west Kent. I have also seen another Trachy, which has the
upright flower spikes, growing in a garden near to Rochester Airport
at an elevation of about 500m (150ft). If this turns out to be a
female I may ask the owners if I can pollinate it next year. Currently
there are no other Trachies in the area. I guess it must be quite
easy to end up with a local variation of the species if there are
only two Trachys in an area, and the subsequent offspring interpollinate
Info: There is a Trachy growing in Never Never Land at Southend,
which has leaves no larger than a foot across. lt is about 12 feet
high and looks quite old (the fibres are breaking up at the base).This
palm does not seem to be bothered by the wind. If we could sex it
and find an opposite sexed palm with small stiff leaves, we could
have the beginnings of a wind tolerant Trachy.
The 50 or so tiny, seed grown Trachies I left out last winter generally
fared OK. I lost 7, with the whole palm dying, about 20 lost their
central spears - rotting and pulling out. They received no medication
but have now grown new leaves, I am being quite ruthless, but to
ensure the hardiness of the species. only the most hardy should
be allowed to propagate.
The Musella lasiocarpa (spelt from memory) has brought a new dimension
to 'Going Bananas . I haven't got around to counting the suckers,
but there must be about 30!!!.
Musa Basjoo was cut to the ground last winter, but the largest plant
is already several feet taller than me, about 8 feet, even though
the winter and spring have been quite cold.
Following the collapse of my Phoenix canariensis during the winter,
(but many others, according to Chamaerops, surviving quite happily),
I would like to suggest that we start a provenance seedbank' or
selling bureaux, Where members like myself can buy and sell seeds
or young palms collected or produced in areas on the edge of a palm's
climatic limit. An exact location, including the approx altitude,
of at least the female and possibly the male, if isolated, could
also be included together with photographs. This could be the start
of a sort of pedigree with almost guaranteed hardiness to certain
Dave Brown, Gravesend, Kent, UK. Via Email
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