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Do Palms Ever Stop Growing?


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#1 mjff

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 06:16 PM

I've been curious about this for awhile. Do palms continue to grow taller their entire lives or do they reach a maximum size and than maintain it for years or decades or centuries? If they do stop growing what happens if their fronds are damaged? It seems like they would have to grow taller to replace them. I've seen Butias that were as large or slightly larger than the maximum heights I've seen listed for the species, and was curious if their days were numbered.
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Martin Farris, San Angelo, TX
San Angelo Cold Hardy Palms and Cycads
Jul - 92F/69F, Jan - 55F/31F
Lows:
02-03: 18F;
03-04: 19F;
04-05: 17F;
05-06: 11F;
06-07: 13F;
07-08: 14F 147.5 Freezing Degree-Hours http://www.palmtalk.org/forum/index.php?sh...ee+hours\;
08-09: 23F;
09-10: 12F 467.6 Freezing Degree Hours, Average Temperature During Freeze 24.2F;
10-11: 13F 1,059.5 Freezing Degree Hours with Strong Winds/Rain/Snow/Sleet, Average Temperature During Freeze 19.4F;
Record low -4F in 1989 (High of 36F that p.m.) 1,125.2 freezing degree hours, Average Temperature During Freeze 13.6F;
Record Freeze 1983: 2,300.3 Freezing Degree Hours with a low of 5F, Average Temperature During Freeze 13.7F.

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#2 The Germinator

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Posted 23 August 2008 - 01:12 AM

......and also how old do they get; what is the oldest palm on record?
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#3 xerophyte_nyc

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Posted 23 August 2008 - 04:23 AM

My guess is they keep on growing until 1 of several things happens:

1) A weather related event (lightning, wind, storm) eventually takes them down.

or

2) Disease, insects, or competition for resources may result in a plant's demise.

or

3) If the plant is lucky enough to have survived the above incidents, then it may reach a point where the vascular system is unable to pump enough water and nutrients to the top of a tall plant.

This is not based on real facts, just speculation.
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Long Island, NY
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silk palm trees grow well all year in my zone
:P

#4 palmazon

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Posted 23 August 2008 - 04:42 AM

Phytelephas seemannii creeps along the rainforest floor, by turns growing skyward, then tipping over; where the trunk touches ground, roots develop, and the plant continues the cycle - causing speculation they're indeed immortal.
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I get by with a little help from my fronds


#5 Phil

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Posted 23 August 2008 - 04:54 AM

This is an interesting topic and (as far as I know) has never been thoroughly studied. My personal bias is that each species has an average life span. Some live longer than others, and as a group all species are not the same. I am not talking here about monocarpic species such as Caryota and Corypha that die when they blossom. Rather, I'm refering to species that "should" go on living. As mentioned above, disease and environmental challenges can cut this short. But, I think growers have noticed that species in their garden have matured and then died off. I've seen this with Euterpe and species of Chamaedorea. This is without any apparent signs of disease. I had three Euterpe of about 20 years age, all planted at about the same time in different areas. All three died the same year. One had blossomed profusely. Compare this with Jubaea that are known to be over 100 years old and still thriving. It would appear that species with thicker trunks seem to last longer: Jubaea, Canaries, Washingtonia filifera, etc. Perhaps such species have a better mechanism for getting nutrition up to the crown. Or, perhaps more temperate species might survive longer. Studying this would either take decades or be anecdotal. Information might be obtainable about a few species that are grown in large numbers for agricultural purposes. No matter how a researcher approached it, it would be a huge undertaking to gather information.
Phil
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#6 mjff

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Posted 23 August 2008 - 07:34 AM

3) If the plant is lucky enough to have survived the above incidents, then it may reach a point where the vascular system is unable to pump enough water and nutrients to the top of a tall plant.


This is the scenario I'm curious about. When it reaches the height where the vascular system can't pump enough water and nutrients, what happens? If the answer is within a short time the plant dies, then we will have also indirectly answered the question of what a palm's lifespan is. The answer being however long it takes it to reach its maximum height, the exception of course being palms that creep along the ground continually rooting into it.

Danny, I have been trying to reach you for months. Do you still want that article? PM me or call. My phone # should be on your caller ID, 325 area code.

Phil, still working on that other deal we discussed. Will let you know what happens.
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Martin Farris, San Angelo, TX
San Angelo Cold Hardy Palms and Cycads
Jul - 92F/69F, Jan - 55F/31F
Lows:
02-03: 18F;
03-04: 19F;
04-05: 17F;
05-06: 11F;
06-07: 13F;
07-08: 14F 147.5 Freezing Degree-Hours http://www.palmtalk.org/forum/index.php?sh...ee+hours\;
08-09: 23F;
09-10: 12F 467.6 Freezing Degree Hours, Average Temperature During Freeze 24.2F;
10-11: 13F 1,059.5 Freezing Degree Hours with Strong Winds/Rain/Snow/Sleet, Average Temperature During Freeze 19.4F;
Record low -4F in 1989 (High of 36F that p.m.) 1,125.2 freezing degree hours, Average Temperature During Freeze 13.6F;
Record Freeze 1983: 2,300.3 Freezing Degree Hours with a low of 5F, Average Temperature During Freeze 13.7F.

#7 palmazon

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Posted 23 August 2008 - 06:40 PM

It's another version of the age-old question - does a tree falling alone in a forest make any sound? When human beings enter the picture, the palm is likely to be harvested, transplanted, or otherwise monkeyed with, so it may be impossible to determine.

mjff - go ahead and send me your article.
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I get by with a little help from my fronds


#8 mjff

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Posted 23 August 2008 - 07:39 PM

Danny,

Any guidance as far as length (max/min words), # of photos, deadline date, etc.? Anything else I need to know?

Martin
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Martin Farris, San Angelo, TX
San Angelo Cold Hardy Palms and Cycads
Jul - 92F/69F, Jan - 55F/31F
Lows:
02-03: 18F;
03-04: 19F;
04-05: 17F;
05-06: 11F;
06-07: 13F;
07-08: 14F 147.5 Freezing Degree-Hours http://www.palmtalk.org/forum/index.php?sh...ee+hours\;
08-09: 23F;
09-10: 12F 467.6 Freezing Degree Hours, Average Temperature During Freeze 24.2F;
10-11: 13F 1,059.5 Freezing Degree Hours with Strong Winds/Rain/Snow/Sleet, Average Temperature During Freeze 19.4F;
Record low -4F in 1989 (High of 36F that p.m.) 1,125.2 freezing degree hours, Average Temperature During Freeze 13.6F;
Record Freeze 1983: 2,300.3 Freezing Degree Hours with a low of 5F, Average Temperature During Freeze 13.7F.

#9 amazondk

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 01:05 AM

I have noticed that in some Mauritia fleuxosa groves there will be maybe only one tree that is up to twice as high as the others. That is in a grove of hundereds of trees. That is sort of puzzeling. What happened to the other trees of the same age? Most of the trees are of the same height so I would assume of similar age. With trees that are emmergent and reach the forest canopy you don't see them taller than the other trees around them either. They seem to grow about to the height of the lowest tops in the canopy but not higher.

dk
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#10 Ken Johnson

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 02:31 AM

Carlo M. gave a presentation about this subject to the South Florida Palm Society a while back. He did some research of botanic garden records. The oldest was (I think) from a garden in Brazil, maybe one in Italy too.

He found some 100 + year old palms still alive. In the mean time he found records of deaths and figured that some 90% of deaths came from lightning strikes!

Here in South Florida we have native Coccothrinax argentata that are very old. These palms do not get tall so that protects them from lightning. I have figured that there are "silver palms" here that are over 500 years old. To come up with that number I looked at 100 year old pictures of the area when ALL the native pines were cut down for lumber. The loggers left the silver palms behind so they stick out in the photos. Those palms are still growing in the secondary forests that have been saved (1% of the original, ain't humans great?). Anyway, the palms are now no bigger than the ones in the photos. The biggest I have seen are around 8' of trunk. The way I figure it is that them suckers were that big in 100 year old photos so imagine how old they must be.

Some books have sections on life spans of palms. For sure hundreds of years old is not a strech for many species.
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#11 palmazon

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 04:14 AM

mjff - length: long enough to cover your subject, short enough to read during the average toilet session
photo files need to be as large as possible (I have some from this end of the operation if yours are too small); as many as you like - the editor can eliminate any surplus
deadline? soon as you can

practical information is ideal - don't get bogged down with too much background
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#12 AJQ

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 04:58 AM

There was a photo doing the rounds a few years ago of an 400 year old Chamaerops humilis that was the size of a house with I think about 20 trunks!!! Then there is the famous Jubaea chilensis that is reputed to be over 1600 years old. I think it is called "le Capitan". I have searched my files for the photo but unfortunately can't find it. I also discovered other photos missing too?????



Regards Andy.
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Several just subzero's this year, lets hope it stays this way after last years Narnia Event! Normally around 5C to 10C + in winter, with lots of wind & rain. Summers usually better, 20C to 25 C occasionally 25C to 28C, also quite humid being a coastal town

#13 mjff

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 08:53 PM

mjff - length: long enough to cover your subject, short enough to read during the average toilet session
photo files need to be as large as possible (I have some from this end of the operation if yours are too small); as many as you like - the editor can eliminate any surplus
deadline? soon as you can

practical information is ideal - don't get bogged down with too much background


I've got it finished, where do you want me to send it and the photos? PM me the info. I have tried PM'ing and calling you, but haven't had any luck reaching you.
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Martin Farris, San Angelo, TX
San Angelo Cold Hardy Palms and Cycads
Jul - 92F/69F, Jan - 55F/31F
Lows:
02-03: 18F;
03-04: 19F;
04-05: 17F;
05-06: 11F;
06-07: 13F;
07-08: 14F 147.5 Freezing Degree-Hours http://www.palmtalk.org/forum/index.php?sh...ee+hours\;
08-09: 23F;
09-10: 12F 467.6 Freezing Degree Hours, Average Temperature During Freeze 24.2F;
10-11: 13F 1,059.5 Freezing Degree Hours with Strong Winds/Rain/Snow/Sleet, Average Temperature During Freeze 19.4F;
Record low -4F in 1989 (High of 36F that p.m.) 1,125.2 freezing degree hours, Average Temperature During Freeze 13.6F;
Record Freeze 1983: 2,300.3 Freezing Degree Hours with a low of 5F, Average Temperature During Freeze 13.7F.

#14 Jono Miller

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 02:28 PM

I'm intrigued by your observation that some palms in groups tend to adopt the same canopy height, not sticking their necks out. This could be because they are all the same age, but I suspect it is more complicated with some sort feedback mechanism. That could be as simple as lightning killing taller trees, but again, I suspect more is involved. The odds that all trees in a forest plot originated from a single cohort germination seems possible, but unlikely.

Perhaps some palms grow rapidly until they hit canopy height then slow down and "wait" for others to grow up?

Jono

I have noticed that in some Mauritia fleuxosa groves there will be maybe only one tree that is up to twice as high as the others. That is in a grove of hundereds of trees. That is sort of puzzeling. What happened to the other trees of the same age? Most of the trees are of the same height so I would assume of similar age. With trees that are emmergent and reach the forest canopy you don't see them taller than the other trees around them either. They seem to grow about to the height of the lowest tops in the canopy but not higher.

dk


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#15 Jono Miller

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Posted 25 February 2014 - 01:32 PM

Building on my comments above . . . if some Sabals are acaulescent, that is grow for many years without developing an appreciable trunk, why couldn't other Sabals reach a particular height and then switch or devolve to that habit of not adding appreciable height? If you look at cabbage palm leaf scars, you'll notice fairly wide spacing near the ground and leaf scars closer and closer together as you go up-trunk. This suggests that 1) the additional incremental height attributed to each new leaf is variable and 2) that the additional incremental height added by each leaf diminishes over time. Could the canopy metaphorically march in place, tread water, or vamp -- not really adding any height but continuing to add new leaves?


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