Trachy Troubles

(page 3)

I collected seed from below some large and beautiful mature Trachycarpus at Abbotsbury Botanic Garden 6 or 7 years ago and was amazed at the variation in the plants that grew. Whilst the majority are regular T. fortunei, some have bizarre hastulas, some creep, some are burnt by frost at —5°C , and two plants have leaves that detach when the leaf dies. One only has to wander amongst the much more consistent young T. fortunei grown from pure Chinese seed at the Palm Centre to realise that something is very different. Is it possible that these unusual palms are F2 hybrid Trachycarpus and not T. fortunei at all? After all, F2 offspring of hybrid plants of any species will display considerable variation that is not apparent in the F1 generations. Very often the variability grows with each successive generation. This variation in the offspring could well be a clue as to the genetic make up of those old Trachycarpus growing in our parks and gardens and provides a very strong explanation as to why people are finding palms with T. takil-like traits, and also explains the considerable variability generally observed in the T. fortunei species.

This brings me to the question regarding T. fortunei raised earlier. Exactly how many of the plants that we grow and regard as T. fortunei are, in fact, hybrids? A recent discussion on the Pacific North West forum centred on an enthusiast who visited China and claimed to have discovered T. takil has led me to an alarming conclusion. He found Trachycarpus so consistently big and different that he believes they fit the T. takil description of “larger in all their parts with a bare trunk”. If we go along with the scientific theory that Trachycarpus as a single species evolved over millions of years all along the Himalayan foothills into several different species , then clearly they cannot be T. takil. So what are they? My own conclusion (contentious though it may be) is that he has found true T. fortunei unaffected by hybridisation, which, like T. takil, are larger in all their parts. Having grown up with T. fortunei as a very variable species and faced with such a large stand of trees in habitat, this would be an easy mistake for any enthusiast to make. Personally, I find this all very alarming, because if my observations are correct, the evolutionary process that has created these magnificent palms over millions of years has been reversed in a couple of our generations.

continued on [next page]   [previous page]   [top]   [index]


  24-03-23 - 20:12GMT
 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...