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What’s Blooming in Paradise? Royal Palm

By Staff | Aug 12, 2011

First impression: Oh my goodness, I have to step back and view this super tall Palm at a substantial distance. The flowers are golden wheat color in the effervescent cascade typical of palms. What a memorable palm with a straight pillar like trunk in a gray cement color. Super sized, medium green, feather like fronds, (palm leaves) are attached to thick stems unarmed (no teeth) and emerge from a green crown shaft. Impressive, regal and once you see this palm you will know why it is called Royal Palm. A Solitary Palm that reminds me of Palm trees growing in South Florida lining the driveways of 1960’s Florida Mansions. You might also experience lots of memories and recollections looking at this palm. We have oodles of these monumental palms blooming at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: Gray, smooth, closely ringed trunks that are swollen at the base distinguish Royal Palms. The trunks are columnar, stately with very large diameters, and have the look of being made from concrete. The flowing pinnate fronds are plume-like and about 10′ long. Large fragrant inflorescence sprouts of buttery colored flowers occur at the base of the crown shaft. Fruits are purplish black half inch round and non-edible. Their sequence is flower, fruit then seeds. They can be pruned away with no damage to the palm. The crown shaft is smooth, dark green and self-cleaning. Palms usually have rough or smooth crown shafts. The smooth shafts are self-cleaning meaning the non-productive a.k.a. brown fronds fall off when they are no longer needed by the palm. Rough shafts hold on to the brown fronds longer and gardeners usually prune them off for aesthetics. Leaving these brown fronds on or off doesn’t matter to the health of the palm. Removing the green fronds from any palm prematurely will damage your palm’s nutrition intake. Palms require a certain number of green fronds (varies from species to species) to perform photosynthesis. Hurricane cut is a term used when un-trained landscapers or gardeners remove way too many fronds while trimming palms. These unskilled landscapers are trying to manage palms in a hap hazard method. Educated and palm-savvy landscapers know that hurricane cutting is very bad practice of trimming palms. Ironically, this cut is terrible for hurricanes and the survival of your palms. Leaving the correct amount of green fronds on your palms insures a higher survival rate after strong winds. Royals grow moderately fast to 50-100 feet in height, that growth can be one foot per year! Moderately salt tolerant and can thrive in a broad range of soil conditions. Guess what, these palms are originally from South Florida (a native) and have that natural resistance to survive hurricanes, great feature for our area. Our Florida ancestors used this palm as an important source for construction, thatch, livestock feed, medicine and cooking oil. Remember palms that are taken care of correctly can live hundreds of years. With lots of love and proper care they can survive century to century and outlive most of us.

Pros: Impressive Palm – Does well in sandy soil – Likes full sun Can take wet feet – Easily propagated by seeds or transplant Salt tolerance Is great for tropical look in a garden Self cleaning Fast grower Survivor in a hurricane Can brag to your relatives you have royals coming to visit – Cold tolerant – Native status.

Cons: Berries can be messy – Difficult to climb for maintenance once they reach double digit heights Prone to Ganoderma Heavy Fronds really are massive.

Conclusion: Royal Palm what winner! Now a day, we don’t have to live in a mansion to enjoy this beauty in our gardens. We love putting on the Ritz with our Royals – Palms that is. Tiara’s optional!

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!