Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Florida‘s State Tree. Palm Mostly Right

Quick! What is the official Florida state tree? If you answered “palm tree.” you’re mostly right. After all, Florida is synonymous with warm, sunny days; sultry evenings and, of course, palm trees. But there are 2,600 varieties of palm trees and the one Florida calls its “official” tree is the Sabal Palmetto Palm. Also called a cabbage palm because the central bud can be eaten raw or cooked, it isn’t a good idea to do either since damaging the bud will kill the tree.
Palms Are Not Trees At All

In truth, palms are not trees at all; they’re grass. Sorry to disappoint. They don’t produce bark or a cambium layer and don’t heal like plants with woody tissue. The trunk is a mass of hardened spongy material that has expanded as the tree has grown taller. And, unlike a typical tree, palms don’t form annual growth rings.

Things To Consider in Choosing a Palm

While a number of varieties are native to South Florida, it’s a good idea to take into consideration their hurricane resistance when choosing trees for landscaping. Some of the best trees for wind tolerance are the Pygmy Date Palm and the Sabal Palm.

Originally from Laos and Southeast Asia, the Pygmy Date Palm is a slow growing feather palm that reaches about 10 feet. It has a single or multiple trunk and survived both hurricanes Andrew and Wilma.

Sabal palms also rode out Andrew and did well during Wilma. But because these palms are less attractive than other palms, many gardeners and landscapers don’t like them for front yards. They grow to about 50 feet and survive in nearly all conditions.

While many palms do well in a hurricane, the Queen Palm isn’t one of them. Although most common in South Florida, they didn’t do well in Wilma. They uproot rather than snap at the trunk, so removing them from within falling distance of your house would be a good idea.

Palms Aren’t Immune to Pests or Disease
Palms trees can be victim to several kinds of pests, including Palmetto Weevils, Royal Palm Bugs and Palm Aphids. Palmetto Weevils are drawn to stressed trees, mainly cabbage and Canary Island Date palms. The females lay eggs in the leaf bases of the crown and the larvae tunnel into the heart, destroying the tree. Crowns of affected trees topple. Royal Palm Bug infestations increase in Spring and Summer. These pests feed on young leaves. Although it is said that three species of spiders found to prey on the bugs along with heavy rains are a major factor in controlling
these pests naturally, their effectiveness is questionable.

Finally, the Palm Aphid infests young leaves, secreting a honeydew that is a breeding ground for sooty mold.

Other diseases that affect palm trees include: leaf spots, fake smut, root rot, butt rot, wilt, coconut lethal yellowing and spider mites.

The uniquely trained experts at Insect Protection Pest Control are available to advise you on the many pests and diseases affecting your palm trees. Call them today for a free consultation.

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