Letters

Your chance to air your news and views

Just a Matter of Time: These Ceroxylon ventricosum in Ecuador have but a temporary stay of execution. Farmers imagine that they are 'saving' the palms by leaving them standing when they clear the forest for pasture. But the trees are unable to reproduce themselves, and any seedlings that do sprout are quickly be eaten by grazing animals. Huge areas of the country are being 'cleared' in this way, and some rare species are clinging to life in a few pockets of vegetation.

Greetings From Tennessee
My name is William Taylor and I’m a palmaholic. I’m a member of the South Eastern Palm and Exotic Plant Society and I’ve been receiving ‘Chamaerops’ for about 2 years. Since I’m not from Europe I’ve been reluctant to write, but here goes...
I live in a small town called Athens in Tennessee in the south-eastern part of the United States. Athens is near the city of Chattanooga. My winters here are not as warm as I would like (doesn’t everybody feel the same way?), and average -18 to -12 deg. C. We are classified ‘Zone 7’.
I started collecting and growing palms outdoors in 1995 with two small Trachycarpus fortunei. That first winter we had a low of -19 deg. C. I protected my two palms with cardboard boxes. Since then I now six genera of palms: Butia, Rhapidophyllum, Sabal, Serenoa, Trachycarpus and Washingtonia, totalling about 100 plants in the ground. By far the largest number are Sabal minor. I don’t see why they are not native here, they are so hardy. Their native habitat is only 128kms/80 miles to the south-west. The next in quantity is Trachycarpus and then Rhapidophyllum.
Since I’ve been growing palms the temperature has not fallen below that -19 deg. C. I protect the Trachy’s if it goes below -11 deg. C. or so, until I can get them well established and acclimated to my winters. The worst part about the south is that we can get extended warm weather in winter then out of nowhere comes a severe freeze, like winter '97/98. February was very mild, the coldest was -2 deg. C. In March the cold came, down to -10 deg. C. All the damage to the Trachy’s was done in the March freeze.
I enjoy growing Washingtonia. They grow so fast and are very easy to protect. This year I am trying a Butia capitata in the ground. I’ve had the palm for several years and it’s about 150cm tall. There are several other Butias in the State, growing successfully, though they do require winter protection here in Zone 7. Sabal palmetto is another palm I feel sure will do well with some protection. I have two about 150-180cms, total height. One has been in the ground one winter, the other for two winters and both have done surprisingly well. In Knoxville Tennessee, a fellow called Fred Breeden has a Palmetto that has been in the ground since 1981. It has been through some mighty cold winters with a frame-and-tarpaulin covering during the coldest nights and heat has only been used once or twice. It has a height of nearly 4 metres and 120cms of trunk. Well that will do for now, let’s see how El Nino treats us. If anyone would like to get in touch my address is below.
William Taylor, 214 Oak Street, Athens, TN, 37303, USA.

Holá From Cantabria
A few lines about palms which can be seen here on the north coast of Spain. Only a few kinds of palms are grown among them we have Phoenix canariensis, which grows taller than in the proper Canary Islands and there are hundreds of them all along the north coast and quite further inland, Phoenix dactylifera, of which I’ve only spotted one, about 4-5 metres high and with no seeds, while most of the other species of palm do have seeds and in great quantities, Phoenix reclinata, Washingtonia filifera, not in great numbers, but easily seen everywhere, Washingtonia robusta, the same, Butia capitata, just a few of them, some with big bunches of fruit.
Trachycarpus fortunei can be seen in large numbers, Chamaerops humilis, not many, and once in a while some Chamaedorea elegans, some Howea forsteriana (one 3-4 metres high in a private garden in a nearby city, really beautiful), and a very few Jubaea chilensis but considered the best in Spain according to Mr. J. A. del Canizo. Two are about 15-18 metres high, and more than one metre in diameter, and about one hundred years old (really splendid!), and with lots of seeds every year, which I’ve been told, people used to eat and tasted very well!
Oscar Laiseca, Cantabria, Spain

The Lost World Of The Cordyline
Last summer brought a better than usual flowering to an avenue of Cordylines (C. australis) lining my driveway here in Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. Later, when clusters of fruit developed, I learned for the first time that they were edible: a small group of starlings fed eagerly on them.
This started a train of thought. For many millions of years New Zealand, home of the Cordylines, was unique among large, temperate land masses in having no mammalian fauna whatever (apart from a couple of species of bat). In their absence, ecological niches they might have occupied were taken up by birds and most dramatically by the recently extinct family of Moas. The tallest of these at around 13 feet/4m in height is now thought to have lingered on until about the year 1850.
A creature with this stature would have had no difficulty in accessing sprays of Cordyline berries nor for that matter the fruit of other medium sized species such as the Nikau palm, and the pods of Sophora tetraptera, the beautiful Kowhai, whose blossom is New Zealand’s national flower, if it found these edible.
The stories that have been passed down indicate that Moas were abundant when man first appeared in New Zealand during the past 2000 years and indeed this is confirmed by bones which survive, many bearing signs of having been cooked by early human inhabitants. Maori accounts of Moa hunts indicate a creature capable of a desperate defence with the capacity to inflict lethal kicks. Given the absence of indigenous predators one might conclude that this aggressive ability was directed, before man’s arrival, at their own species in establishing sexual dominance or defending territory and food.
It seems reasonable to conclude that the evolution of the Cordylines, the Phormiums and probably many other New Zealand plant species was linked inseparably with that of the huge birds, now alas, no more. Today, cut adrift from the age-old frame work in which they developed, let us look with a deeper insight at our own humble Cordylines and see the ghostly shadows of giant birds, battling perhaps for control of the areas where they were most abundant, or quietly stripping the ripened fruit from their crowns.
Eddie McLoughlin, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland.

Open Invitation
I am a new member of the Society and I'm experimenting with growing palms here in the temperate climate of West Cork. Ours is a new garden, only 9 years old, so our palms are not very mature. We have, of course, Trachycarpus fortunei and Butia capitata which are both doing well, Chamaerops humilis which I had to move which set it back a great deal but it is now coming on again. In spring we planted out Phoenix canariensis, Phoenix reclinata, Sabal palmetto and Washingtonia robusta and we are now waiting to see how they survive our mild but wet winter. The Mexican Blue palm, Brahea armata, has been acquired but I think we will wait and plant it in the spring.
Our garden is on the shore of Dunmanus Bay so we get a lot of salt-laden wind especially during the winter so we tend to plant tender plants in the spring to avoid the winter wind damage.
We would be happy to welcome any members of the Society to the garden should they be visiting Ireland.
Phemie Rose, Kilravock Garden, Durrus, Co. Cork.

Palm Parish
Our new parish, Deviock, was inaugurated last year and I plan to make it the 'palm parish' of south east Cornwall.
In our villages (Seaton and Downderry) we have a human population of about 700. Palm-wise, our original population of 1 Trachycarpus has now expanded to about 18. I have not pushed Trachy's as besides being common elsewhere, they suffer badly from wind/salt damage on the coast here.
The original population has now been joined by 21 Chamaerops humilis, 14 Jubaea chilensis, 12 Phoenix canariensis, 2 Butia capitata, 2 Sabal palmetto, 1 S. minor. I'm afraid the 2 Washingtonia filifera died last winter.
I enclose a brochure for Blue Haven Hotel here on Looe Hill, in case anyone should want to stay down this way. The owners are very friendly and are keen gardeners. They have recently planted several species of palms and other 'exotics' in the hotel garden. Their phone number is (+44) 01503 250310.
Duncan Champion, Seaton, Devon UK.

 

  23-09-18 - 15:47GMT
 What's New?
 New palm book
 Date: 24-05-2004

An Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft.
 New: Issue 48
 Date: 24-05-2004
Chamaerops 48
has been published in the Members Area.
 Archive complete!
 Date: 03-12-2002
All Chamaerops issues can now be found in the archive: More than 350 articles are on-line!
 Issues 13 to 16
 Date: 28-08-2002
Chamaerops mags 13, 14, 15 and 16 have been added to the members area. More than 250 articles are now online!
 42 as free pdf-file
 Date: 05-08-2002
Free Download! Chamaerops No. 42 can be downloaded for free to intruduce the new layout and size to our visitors
 Issues 17 to 20
 Date: 23-07-2002
Chamaerops mags 17, 18, 19 and 20 have been added to the members area. Now 218 articles online!
 Book List
 Date: 28-05-2001
Take a look at our brand new Book List edited by Carolyn Strudwick
 New Book
 Date: 25-01-2001
'Palmen in Mitteleuropa'
by Mario Stähler
This german book tells you all about how to cultivate your palms in Central Europe. more...