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Rhapidophyllum hystrix in habitat

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Visited a friend near Crawfordville, Florida. We went riding around the area looking at Needle Palm, Sabal palmetto, and Sabal minor habitat.post-97-0-52918000-1396965533_thumb.jpg

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Love the habitat photos. Were they on protected land?

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Amazing, the Florida panhandle is pretty cold by Florida standards and even has the only part of the state that has ever recorded a temperature below 0, and yet look, three different native palms! I can actually see some palmetto in the background. Hope you have some more of those habitat photos.

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needles look so much better in habitat than cultivation IMO. thanks for sharing!

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Yes, sorry...I was going to post some more pics. I'll try and do it tomorrow. It was on protected land....really strange....you drive down this dirt road and no needles anywhere, then all of a sudden there are just thousands. The strange thing is that there is seemingly no difference in the habitat.

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Needle palms are notorious for spotty distribution. Their seeds are held close to the trunk buried within the needles and not many animals can eat them. I read a paper one time that said their primary dispersal agent is thought to be the black bear. Without seed dispersal, they can only grow from suckers, hence the local abundance but regional scarcity.

The population as a whole was declining even at the time of formal species description. Couple this with the fact that needles are not related to any other palm genera in the americas but closely related to Asian species leads me to believe they're a pre-ice age relic that's naturally dying out. This is further supported by the fact that one of the largest population of needles occurs in Torreya state park along with other pre ice age relics like the torreya, Florida yew, rhododendron minus and the southernmost distribution of mountain laurel, kalmia latifolia.

Edited by stevethegator
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post-97-0-01960000-1397079632_thumb.jpgpost-97-0-36061800-1397079672_thumb.jpg
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post-97-0-25576600-1397079843_thumb.jpgpost-97-0-47263300-1397079886_thumb.jpgpost-97-0-03734100-1397079934_thumb.jpgpost-97-0-38163000-1397079987_thumb.jpg

They share the forest with some really tall Sabal palmetto. Notice the forked palmetto in the third picture.

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post-97-0-45243100-1397080128_thumb.jpg
Saw a huge Sabal minor. No it was not a juvenile S. palmetto. My friend joked that someone had planted a minor (Mexican) .....can't remember name right now out in the middle of nowhere.....perhaps it was some sort of hybrid. We had the wrong shoes to investigate further.

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post-97-0-34645200-1397080599_thumb.jpgpost-97-0-70530900-1397080630_thumb.jpgpost-97-0-50352700-1397080672_thumb.jpg

Can someone Id this tree for me?

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post-97-0-62683300-1397080849_thumb.jpg

I can imagine that a Florida panther might have laid in this tree at some point waiting to pounce on a deer.

post-97-0-62742500-1397080886_thumb.jpg

Look at that palm growing right in the water.

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post-97-0-31194600-1397081117_thumb.jpg

You can get a better appreciation for the height of some of these palms.

post-97-0-20275400-1397081148_thumb.jpg

Can you spot the varigation?

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post-97-0-49295700-1397081241_thumb.jpg

Moving towards the coastline.....

post-97-0-89215100-1397081287_thumb.jpg

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Wonderful photos!!! I love to see palms in habitat

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Needle palms are notorious for spotty distribution. Their seeds are held close to the trunk buried within the needles and not many animals can eat them. I read a paper one time that said their primary dispersal agent is thought to be the black bear. Without seed dispersal, they can only grow from suckers, hence the local abundance but regional scarcity.

The population as a whole was declining even at the time of formal species description. Couple this with the fact that needles are not related to any other palm genera in the americas but closely related to Asian species leads me to believe they're a pre-ice age relic that's naturally dying out. This is further supported by the fact that one of the largest population of needles occurs in Torreya state park along with other pre ice age relics like the torreya, Florida yew, rhododendron minus and the southernmost distribution of mountain laurel, kalmia latifolia.

Another reason for there scarcity is that they have been historically harvested for sale in the nursery trade. It has the status of "commercially exploited" here in Florida and is a state listed species.

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My friend knew of the split palmetto and also the variegated minor? He spends a lot of time In the woods picking his banjo .. lol. I kid him a lot about it.

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When I here banjos in the woods anywhere near Georgia I run.

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Amazing photos. Steve: since needles are related to trachycarpus, could these two be hybridized?

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I doubt it, they're only distantly related to trachies. Guihaia is thought to be the closest relative to rhapidophyllum

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