"Paul, The Palm Doctor!"
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November's Palm of the Month Selection!

Acoelorrhaphe Wrightii

Everglades/ Paurotis Palm


acoelorrhaphe_wrightii_006.gif (200479 bytes)The so-called Everglades, or Paurotis Palm is one of the most beautiful & ornamental of South Florida's native palm trees.  It is a clumping style palm and lends itself well to planting between windows, as a focal point; on the corner of a home; in a large planter box; or massed together as a tall and informal hedging material.

Paurotis Palm likes moisture but does not tolerate "wet feet!"  It can suffer from potassium, iron, manganese, as well as magnesium deficiencies.  When its frond colour becomes yellowish, rather than a rich "Spring" green, probably one of the aforementioned minerals is lacking!

Description
This clumping palm punctuates the flat horizon of the Everglades on Florida's southern tip. The Everglades palm can be seen growing in great mounds that erupt from from the edges of the small islands that dot this "river of grass".  Also know as Paurotis palm, it makes a beautiful and interesting landscape specimen.

The palmate leaves are light green with silvery undersides and grow 2 to 3 feet in width. They are deeply divided into 1 inch segments and are held on thin 3 foot leafstems.   Rows of sharp orange teeth are arranged along the edges and inspire another of the plants common names: silver saw palm.

About 25 leaves are arranged into crowns that sit above thin (3 to 4" in diameter) stems covered in loose brown fibre. The stems can reach 30 feet and lean away from one another to form informal clusters. These can become very dense if suckers are not pruned. This palm blooms in late spring. The white flowers are arranged on 4' inflorescences that extend past the leaves. The small fruits are 1/2 inch in diameter and change from green to orange to black when ripe.

If you associate royal palms with tuxedos and Washingtonias with three piece suites, the paurotis palm is tank top, cutoffs and sandals. I enjoy this palm whenever I see it and depending on its situation, each plant (clump)develops a unique personality.

Location
The Paurotis palm is native to the southern tip of Florida and the Everglades.   Also found in the West Indies, Cuba and parts of Central America. Now a popular landscape item in all nearly frost-free climates.

Culture
The is one of the few palms that is tolerant of standing water. Looks best with dead leaves removed. May suffer "frizzletop", a manganese deficiency, fertilise twice a year with slow release fertiliser that contains micro-nutrients.
Light: Prefers full sunlight but will tolerate some shade.
Moisture: Likes moisture (even wet feet) but will tolerate drought!
Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 - 11.  It is tolerant of frosts down to the mid 20's F.
Propagation: By seeds that take about 2 to 3 months to germinate if kept warm.   Also by divisions of clumps (get out your picks, axes and other tools of destruction because you're in for a battle!)

Usage
Well trimmed specimens look great in entryways - especially impressive when flood lit at night!  Clumps look good in highway median and as accents in an expanse of lawn.  Everglades palm is fond of water so plant it at lakesides where it will flourish - reflected in the water your viewing enjoyment is doubled.  If provided adequate moisture, this palm can be used to form screens or even virtually   impenetrable barriers with age. This makes a very tropical alternative to a hedge of shrubs.

Features
Small specimens are inexpensive and available at home and garden centres in pots.  There versatility and informal beauty make them a winner however they are used.  Paurotis palm is easy to grow and tough and durable.

"Paul, The Palm Doctor!"