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Martin Gibbons
Carlo Morici's article 'Paschalococos and the Disappearing Palms' prompted me to share a conversation I had on the same subject. During my recent trip to Chile, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr.Juan Grau, a specialist in asthma, who at the age of 84 is still practising. Apart from this he is an expert in a number of fields including palms, pollution, semi-precious stones, the language of Easter Island, and the chinchilla, which he was instrumental in saving from extinction. We had a long conversation about palms in general and then about Jubaea chilensis. He is of the opinion, which he told me is now shared by most historian-botanists, that the palm which is now extinct on Easter Island is not a 'new' species but is identical with Jubaea itself. The populations there were probably cut down many years ago by the natives who used the trunks as huge rollers to move the famous statues from quarry to final standing place. He has had 4 mature Jubaeas flown there (courtesy of the Chilean Air Force) and re-planted in the soil of Easter Island, along with, some years previously, 100 seedlings which were distributed and planted around the island itself. Perhaps one day Easter Island will boast its original number of these wonderful palms.

Palm Conservation
Martyn Graham, 123 Benhill Road, Sutton, Surrey SM1 3SB, U.K.
I found the article "Conservation Through Cultivation" veryinteresting as it highlighted the possibility for palm enthusiasts to help keep a wide palm gene pool. An underlying premise of the article is the need for palms to be more widely planted. Part of the reason why more hardy palms are not planted is that most people think they won't survive cold conditions. This misconception is made worse when many reputable gardening books contain defective information. For example, my recent edition of the RHS A-Z Encyclopaedia of Garden Plants gives the following information:
1. Butia capitata - half hardy to frost tender - minimum 5-10° C.
2. Chamaerops humilis - Half hardy - minimum 0°C.
3. Phoenix canariensis - Minimum 16°C.
Perhaps the only way we can counter the inaccurate underestimate of the hardiness of many palms is to show the general public what the truth is; as they say, "seeing is believing." In the U.K., a few enlightened local Councils have planted a modest number of hardy palms. If members could donate the odd palm each, we could create some model palm beds in municipal gardens in the larger cities of Europe. By posting the locations of these plantings on the EPS website, people could easily locate the nearest municipal garden containing these palms.
Depending upon the hardiness of the palms, naturalised groves of endangered species could be planted in appropriate climates. Once again, public gardens could be used.
If other members write in showing their willingness to donate palms or time to plant them, perhaps the viability of the idea can be gauged.

More Interesting Gardens of Tenerife
Carol and Alan Hawes
It was interesting for us to read Michael Carter's recent article on the splendid palms and other exotic plants that can be seen in the northeast of Tenerife, around Puerto de la Cruz. We, too, visited the area in 1999, in March and in November, and were thrilled at the variety of plants to view.
In the Botanic Gardens at Puerto we counted over one hundred different palm species, many of them semi- or fully mature specimens. At 40 pence a visit, this must be the best value on the island! There is a small "outpost" of this garden a few miles away, in the beautiful town of La Orotava, with more fine palms, treeferns, and exotic under-plantings.
Perhaps even more exciting, palm-wise, was our visit to a smaller garden, the "Jardin Las Tosquillas," situated about half-way between Puerto and the old capital of the island, La Laguna. Begun in 1957, this garden is devoted almost exclusively to palms and Tillandsias (air plants). Finding this amazing garden is worth the effort, as the collection of palms is outstandingly beautiful and well-labeled. It was stunning to wander between fruiting Hedyscepes and Howeas or sit on a terrace shaded by dozens of Washingtonias! There were many medium-sized specimens of Sabals, Braheas, and Bismarckias, and some fine cycads. We also saw hundreds of Tillandsias, some growing on nets shading the palms, and bought one as a souvenir. (This is now thriving on the trunk of our largest Trachycarpus).
Fine palms can also be found in two other beautiful gardens in or near Puerto. A free coach or taxi will take you the short distance to "La Bananera," where you will learn about banana production on the island. After this, you can wander through the interesting gardens where you can see coffee, cacao, kapok, papaya, and custard apple trees planted among Strelitzias, Aloes, Agaves and cacti, as well as many of the indigenous species of the island. A free banana liquor and Strelitzia flower are included in the price!
"Sitio Litre" is one of the oldest houses on the island, and is now surrounded by the suburbs of Puerto. Its garden has a lovely display of orchids and a wide range of sub-tropical plants. It's a peaceful place to sit and sip a reviving drink while admiring a huge "dragon tree."
During our second stay on the island we visited Icod de las Vinos, to the east of Puerto, where there is a huge and ancient Dracena draco, around which a botanical garden dedicated to the island's indigenous plants has recently been created These plants have their own beauty and can easily be seen in the wild while driving or walking around the island, which has a varied and spectacular landscape.
Tenerife truly is a paradise for lovers of sub-tropical plants, and we try to evoke its atmosphere in our own south-coast garden, which is open by appointment for the NGS. Do come and see us!

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