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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Jubaea chilensis

The Chilean wine palm is from South America and is restricted to very small areas in southern Chile. And what a cool looking palm it is. Know for its massive straight trunk you can find at least 2 nice old specimens in town.

The common name is derived from the use of the sap and the heart (the growing point of the palm which once removed the tree dies) to make a wine or some sort of fermented drink.

This specimen below is the most commonly seen one in Santa Cruz and is located on the hillside below the mission facing downtown. Its next to a beautiful Bunya-Bunya tree.



The palm reportedly can reach 80' but I don't think so around here. It has a large crown of 40 or so pinnate leaves that are gray green in color and 12 or so feet long. When the leaves fall they do so very cleanly leaving the smooth trunk, like the Queen Palm, and unlike the Canary Island Palm. This is a specimen from Cal Poly SLO.



Palm flowers are usually very pretty if you stop to look at them. Usually a shade of yellow, they have a large bract that encloses the whole inflorescence (you can see it below, it looks somewhat like a boat. The male and female flowers are on the same inflorescence.



This is a close up of the smooth trunk. You can see the attachment points of the leaves and if you look closely you can see the little spots where the vascular tissues were connected.



This is a "young" specimen at the palm collection at Lake Merritt in Oakland. Worth a trip if you like palms.



Misidentification; Most likely you will think it's a Canary Island Palm because of the leaves, or perhaps a date palm, but the date palm trunks are quite thin and the Canary Island palms do not have a smooth bark.

Location.
Santa Cruz. On the hillside behind the old mission overlooking downtown, just above the intersection of Mission and Center St.

Santa Cruz. Corner of Locust and Pine Place. This one has a funny story. My class was looking at the great purple beech on Green and Cross St when the owner came out very excited. Not always a good thing. She was so excited to tell her sister that someone was talking about her tree, because her sister was always bragging about her special tree. She told us where it was and also told us that the rumor was that there was a line of wine palms planted from the mission to the water and these are the only two left.

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