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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Syagrus romanzoffiana - Queen Palm

The ever present Queen Palm. Very popular palm, they line main street of Capitola Village. On a recent tree walk with a friend he noticed a planting of these with Rhododendrons underneath, smiled, scratched his head and said something like, only in California.

This is a solitary growing palm, 40-60' x 10-15' wide. Upright arching leaves on a clean and smooth trunk. Commonly planted in rows, in clumps or solitary, out of place. So common that a cheap place to buy them is Costco. These are in Watsonville.

The leaves of this palm are pinnate, 8-15' long with lots of lateral leaflets (14-18" long) that are usually limp and weeping. Easily tattered by winds. Generally medium to dark green, they will turn yellow in basic soils.

The leaves on this palm are attached all the way around the stem. Have a look. They have what is called a clasping attachment, like grasses and bamboos.

The smooth bark is a real asset to this palm. The small "scars" on the trunk are in fact scars from where the leaf was attached and you can see the vascular tissue connections easily.

Unlike most all of the other palms around here which hang on to the base of the petiole for years, these fall clean and require no maintenance other than cleaning up those on the ground.

Flowers are small, white, monoecious (male and female on same plant but on separate flowers) on a 20-40" long weeping stalk. Flower stalk coming from within the foliage.

There are only about 10 palms that you will likely encounter here and we will cover most of them. Four are really common.

Misidentification: You are not likely to see many, but the King Palm, Archontophoenix cunninghamii may look somewhat like this but you can tell the difference easily by looking at the stem near where the leaves are attached. The king palm has a smooth crown shaft and a cleaner look. Compare these above and those below.

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