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Spanish Phoenix dactylifera with yellow leafbases.
Photo by Wim Takken

Blue Leaved Phoenix

The last three years my wife and I went to Spain on holidays. In 2002 we went to Blanes, in 2003 to Salou and in 2004 we were in Fuengirola and we also visited Malaga and Marbella. In Blanes we visited both the botanic gardens. Nice gardens indeed, many palm and Cycad species. In Salou and Fuengirola there are--as far as I know--no botanic gardens, but in public and private gardens there are many wonderful plants to be seen. Now you may wonder why I am writing all this. Well, on the boulevards in Blanes, Lloret de Mar, Salou and also on a small part on the beach in Marbella, I saw a very special variety of Phoenix dactylifera. The trees not only have blue leaves, but the leafstalks are bright golden yellow, very striking! This golden yellow colour is similar to that of some Cocos nucifera varieties.
At home I have a blue leaved Phoenix dactylifera, but, having seen these extraordinary coloured palms, I do want one too. So this year, I went to some garden centres in the mountains outside Fuengirola, but I could not find this variety and when I asked for it no one seemed to be aware of it. So this is where my fellow members of the EPS come to help me: Has anyone, especially in Spain, Italy or Southern France, ever noticed this variety? I would be obliged very much with a young plant. So fellow members, please help!
Wim Takken, e-mail: wim.takken@planet.nl

I have seen Phoenix dactylifera with yellow leafbases, but not as intensively coloured as you describe. I could imagine the colour comes out particularly well in this species when in an exposed situation such as a beach. The same plant might not be coloured at all when growing in a humid climate with less light. T.S.

Grand Cayman hit by Hurricane

On 11 September, Grand Cayman was hit by Hurricane Ivan, a category 5 hurricane (the most powerful type) and the fifth most powerful hurricane to hit the Caribbean in recorded history. 95% of all buildings in Grand Cayman were damaged and over 20% of all buildings were either damaged beyond repair or simply do not exist anymore. Over 8,000 people lost their homes and over 10,000 vehicles were destroyed. Surprisingly, only two people died. Most of the island was without electricity for 1 1/2 months and some parts are still powerless. I only got power at my damaged house last week and the Botanic Park still does not have electricity.
The Botanic Park buildings received almost no damage but the gardens, nature preserve and plant collections were heavily damaged. Most of the tree canopy was destroyed and many large palms either blew down or snapped off. Not one single native Royal Palm, Roystonea regia, fell down — all lost most of their leaves and a few were snapped off at the crown but in all they fared well. The endemic Coccothrinax proctori also did well. We were able to save most of the palm and cycad seedlings growing in our nursery. One bright spot: two of three Coco-de-mer seeds planted a year ago are sending up their first leaf while the root of the third seed still looks healthy and we hope it will start to shoot soon. We were worried as our lake flooded during the hurricane and the Coco-de-mer seeds were under three feet of water for over three weeks.
For more information on the general aspects of the garden, please visit our website at www.botanic-park.ky
Sincerely, Andrew Guthrie, General Manager, Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.


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