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Trees Contents
About Trees
Trees in Florida
Florida Forests & Refuges

Palms in South Florida

Palms of South Florida

by George B. Stevenson
"Jargon got you down, friend? You don’t know a coconut palm from a grape palm and your visitors from up north are asking you all kinds of questions about palm trees . . . loosen up. Here’s help in [what] may be the best introduction yet. . . . A primer and more, designed to make you an instant expert."Naples Daily News

Thrinas radiata blooming
Palms Images



Really Low Maintenance Palms by Leigh Fulghum

Short list of the best performers needing the least nutrients and water.

Medjool Date Palm

from Plants Daily Post

9/4/2008 Palms in Florida

Medjool Date: a costly, sometimes dangerous landscape palm

New construction in Florida is tending to emulate a scale maintained by royalty.
Therefore its architects and owners are feeling compelled to utilize trees of Persian Gulf origin to visually break-up the effect of concreting within 8' of the property line, installing a wall, while soaring to the heavens to air condition useless space under vaulted ceilings. After all, we can afford it. Accordingly, one of the tallest, most impractical and costly items on the landscape ticket has become Phoenix dactylifera, or Medjool Date Palm, starting at $4500-$6500 a pop.

This desert species is so drastically out of its native range and habitat in South Florida that nary a date falls from the spiny, raggedy crowns which instead provide excellent habitat for rats and cockroaches, as well as the opportunity for painful, debilitating injuries to arborists, nursery and lawn workers, homeowners and their guests. Simply disposing of the dead foliage is a problem due to the length of the horrible leaves which bear a double set of hypodermic jabbers along their petioles. Quite feasibly a branch dropping onto a passerby could be fatal.

Whereas landscapers love to sell Medjool Dates, more often than not, they hate to plant them. The root balls are cut so enormous in the field nursery that the palms are frequently seen planted only half or two thirds of the way into the ground, with a "landscape mound" of soil patted on with shovels to cover the difference.

Though as an arid zone species it is naturally intolerant of wet sites, and widely documented as such, Medjool Date is widely promoted and sold throughout lowland developments. Neither do destructive diseases and insects respect the price of their host, the date palm . Lethal Yellowing (aka LY) , Texas Phoenix Palm Decline, Graphiola Leaf Spot (False Smut) of Palm, and Palmettto Weevil can make short work of what is usually made the focal point of a landscape (due to the price tag), leaving the choice of worshiping a standing eyesore or shelling out the $1000 take down and hauling fee.

Those who are seeking a high-maintenance, expensive, climatically inappropriate, rather brutal desert palm will certainly want their designer to include a half or dozen or so Medjool Dates on the site plan.


Palm Portrait Gallery
Images at the IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center website.

The Palm Family: in Florida, Saw palmetto, cabbage palm, scrub palmetto, from Trees of Florida.

Coconut Palms in Belize - Types/Diseases/Statistics
This site written by Chris Berlin has photographs of 'Jamaica Tall,' 'Maypan,' 'Malayan,' and 'MayJam' varieties of coconut palms as well as a description of Lethal Yellowing in Belize.

The Palm and Cycad Societies of Florida (PACSOF)
Goals to unite the palm and cycad societies/chapters in Florida and to provide a statewide network of people interested in the wonderful world of palms and cycads

Lethal Yellowing of Palm Trees in Florida
This Department of Ornamental Horticulture Fact Sheet gives a history of the disease which devasted Florida's coconut palm plantings along with important facts when considering which palm to plant. By Henry Donselman,  Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Lethal Yellowing; Department of Ornamental Horticulture, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.

A Manual for Growing Palms Outdoors in the Southeast
Compiled by the Members of The Southeastern Palm and Exotic Plant Society, discusses appropriate site locations for the various palms grown in the Southeastern United States; Reprinted with permission by The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Palm Nutrition Guide
IFAS reprint outlining an optimal program of maintenance for Florida palms, by Timothy K Broschat and Alan W. Meerow,  University of Florida, IFAS, Fort Lauderdale Research And Education Center.

Sabal palmetto: Cabbage palm
The Florida State tree as described by the Florida DACS Forestry Department website.

Sabal palmetto, Wikipedia entry has botanical description

Saw palmetto: An Ecologically and Economically Important Native Palm
IFAS Circular WEC-109, by George Tanner, J. Jeffrey Mullahey, and David Maehr.

Transplanting Palms PDF
IFAS Circular 1047 by Alan W. Meerow and Timothy K. Broschat.

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