Trees in Florida
Forests & Refuges
of South Florida
"Jargon got you down, friend? You dont
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. Heres help
in [what] may be the best introduction yet. . . . A primer and more, designed
to make you an instant expert."Naples
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.
Images at the IFAS
Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center website.
Palm Family: in Florida, Saw palmetto, cabbage
palm, scrub palmetto, from Trees
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
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
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.
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
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.
The Florida State tree as described by the Florida DACS Forestry
palmetto, Wikipedia entry has botanical description
palmetto: An Ecologically and Economically Important Native Palm
Circular WEC-109, by George Tanner, J. Jeffrey Mullahey, and David Maehr.
IFAS Circular 1047 by Alan W. Meerow and Timothy K. Broschat.