The unusual shape (bottle-like) of this palm’s trunk is what most people find interesting about this palm. There are around 5,000 known species of palms, and nearly all of them require an annual average temperature of 72 degrees F or higher to survive
The leaves of this palm are of the pinnate type…resembling the structure of a bird’s feather, hence placing them in the group referred to as “feather” palms. The specimen in our Rainbow Garden has a nearby palm (the Chinese Fan Palm) that produces leaves resembling a fan, illustrative of the group of palms known as “fan” palms.
A number of different palm trees have “rings” circling their trunks from the base of the trunk to the base of the bottom-most leaf. These rings mark the scar or the location of a leaf that fell off the trunk at some time in the past. Palm trees that shed their leaves cleanly from the trunk are called self-cleaning palms, and often exhibit “rings” around their trunks.
Regarding dead leaf retention, the Chinese Fan Palm is NOT a self-cleaning palm, as its dead leaves simply turn brown and bend downwards along the trunk, creating a shaggy coat of dead leaves at the base of the crown of green leaves. However, given enough time, these dead leaves will slowly fall from the trunk as their bases rot. Many kinds of insects and even mice and/or rats can make their home in the cloak of dead leaves of such non-self-cleaning palms. One other contrasting characteristic by which one can categorize palms is by the number of shoots comprising a single plant. The Bottle Palm, for example, has but one trunk and one terminal growing point or bud. If that bud dies for any reason, the whole tree dies. Most of the “bud killers” are either disease organisms or insects, but there are a few kinds of palms that produce a single terminal inflorescence of sometimes gigantic proportions and then die, like the Raphia Palm. Palms with but one trunk are called “solitary” palms. The opposite situation pertains to the “Areca” palm, which produces many basal shoots, creating a large clump of stems. Such palms are called “clumping” palms. Fortunately, the palm from which “heart of palm” is obtained is a clumping palm, so that the harvesting of several shoots from the clump for palm hearts does not kill the whole tree—just the shoot providing the tender “heart” tissues dies.
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