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iamjv

Death of the northern most Alaskan palm....

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iamjv

A couple weeks back I was on an Alaskan cruise... one of the sites I "had to see" was the supposed most northern palm tree in Alaska.

The site was Sitka Alaska (latitude 57.053N - longitude -135.33W).

The palm was a Trachycarpus Fourtunei.

This palm was supposedly planted here some 5 + years ago... no one seemed to be sure! Sadly upon my discovering the palm, I found it to be all but dead. There was a little green left in one frond, yet there really is no hope for the palm to survive as the center spear and growing point were gone, leaving a huge cavity. Evidently this palm lasted longer than it's companion, for I found it a few feet away and it was easily a foot shorter in height, probably dying off 2 years or so ago....

Here are a couple of pics of the palm and where it was situated. First shot depicts the large building it was planted at (in a corner next to a southwest facing wall). Second shot is a close up of the planting area by the main entrance. The third shot is of me and the palm. The last shot is a close up of the palm.

Jv

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deezpalms

What a bummer! Thanks for the thread!!

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Paul The Palm Doctor!

I don't think that they should try that experiment again; cannot end too likely in a better outcome the next time either. That poor palm freezing its fronds off; I cannot even imagine its (their) frosty discomforest and ultimate thermal absence decline. Eeeesh! :blink:

Pablo

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Tomsky

Does anyone know if there are any needle palms in Alaska?

Jack

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palmsOrl

:blink: Thank you for the update. I guess even Trachycarpus need more overall heat than any micro-climate in Sitka can provide. As far as needle palms go, I have read that although they can take extreme cold snaps (-5F) they need summer heat to do well. This makes sense as they are native to the SE United States. Probably not a good candidate for coastal Alaska.

-Michael

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Neofolis

There are a few palms that will take lower temperatures than T.fortunei, but none that seem to cope better with year round cooler climates. The fact that T.fortunei will grow with daytime temperatures around 15°C/59°F and nights below 10°C/50°F is a major advantage in places with a limited growing season.

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Viking

Maybe they should try sabal minor :)

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PalmGuyWC

Come on folks......Sitka Alaska is EXTREAM zone pushing. If Tracheycarpus fortunei won't grow there, nothing will. Rhapidophylum and Sabal minor might be more cold hardy, but they require summer heat to grow. They won't even grow in San Francisco.

Dick

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gsn

Dick I'm with you, MAYBE they should plant a Sitka Spruce ,and quit torturing palm trees,!

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FRITO

nice that you got in the photo with the dead plam :)

and this is a classic use of the cold hardy snowflake icon! :rolleyes:

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iamjv

I truly believe the cool and wet summers had to add to the demise of the palm... locals told me that they usually don't have many warm days due to being next to the water and this past summer was more like spring weather where it was cool and wet all season long. The day we were there it was a sunny day and I was told that only happened 5 or 6 times this year... Jv

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kylecawazafla

come on guys! Palm trees don't have feelings. I say it's worth another shot! Not every palm is created equal.

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PricklyPearSATX
There are a few palms that will take lower temperatures than T.fortunei, but none that seem to cope better with year round cooler climates. The fact that T.fortunei will grow with daytime temperatures around 15°C/59°F and nights below 10°C/50°F is a major advantage in places with a limited growing season.

I agree.

Being orginally from Wisconsin, my gut feeling is that any palm including sabal minor and needles, need "live soil" or they will rot. They need soil temps of about 50 degrees or above. Much has to do with the fact that young palms don't produce "real wood". Their bases are not rot resistant.

Soils in the "snowbelt" can set up anerobic conditions for palm trunks and roots. My gut feeling is palms just can't tolerate cold, wet soil. (They also can't tolerate soil that is frozen for weeks and or/months)

Too bad about the palm in Alaska, ....however, visiting Alaska must have been great!!

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amazon exotics

How about a mature Nannorrhops ritchiana, planted slightly higher than ground level, with wind protection and black stones around the base...?

It is not so much the cold tolerance as it is the resistance to drought, flooding, wind, etc. Nannorrhops are the toughest palms in earth!

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_Keith

Awe, just put a new Trachy in there and keep the myth going. :-)

Actually, every time it is replaced they should put one in slightly larger than the last, and they will even have folks thinking it is growing.

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TikiRick

Let's face it folks, there are limitations to everything. Sure, once in a great while it may survive a few winters, but eventually, since the climate is known for, ah, dog sled races and eskimos, the palm would eventually perish.

I don't even attempt to grow a Colorado Blue Spruce in Ft. Lauderdale. Sure it would live for the first year, then the eventual heat would kill it.

Zone pushing in Alaska is a bit over the top IMO.

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iamjv

It would have been interesting to learn who planted it, how long it had been there and if it ever did well for a period of time. Considering there was another trachy palm carcass a good foot shorter in height, it's easy to presume they were both planted at the same time and maybe even at the same size.... if so then this one clearly out grew and lived the other. Guess we'll never know.... Jv

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manuvericel
How about a mature Nannorrhops ritchiana, planted slightly higher than ground level, with wind protection and black stones around the base...?

It is not so much the cold tolerance as it is the resistance to drought, flooding, wind, etc. Nannorrhops are the toughest palms in earth!

Hello Dereck,

Nannorrhops ritchiana is not at all that cold hardy in winter wet conditions.

My place is much drier than coastal Alaska, year round warmer and in spite of this, the leaves of my Nannorrhops ritchiana are damaged each winter, they even fried completly in 2003 with a brief -10°C. The growth is also really slow.

MANU

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Viking

Maybe they should try Trachycarpus takil next time. :)

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Exotic Life

Thanks for sharing.. i don't know that somebody was trying too grow palms in the cold Alaska. It's looking really dead so i must agree with some other people that if Trachycarpus don't grow over there... is hard too grow some palm species i think.

Robbin

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iamjv

I totally agree with the notion that if a trachy won't live there than probably nothing will.... or at least unprotected as this palm was.

At one time, someone posted on this board about palms growing up in Alaska, although I think he was taking about Juneau. Anyhow,I was hoping that he would have seen this thread and added to it; for if memory serves me right, he stated he lived there in Alaska for a couple of years and grew palms (protected in the winter). Jv

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Hidden Palms

Yes, this was a dying T. fortunei. I really think they, in Sitka, might succeed with a Trachycarpus wagerianus ( http://www.pacsoa.org.au/palms/Trachycarpus/wagnerianus.html ] which is several weather degrees tougher than then the usual Windmill Palm due to it's the tougher leaves and genetics.

While it might be hard to obtain the Waggie Windmill Palm in AK, these are easily mail ordered or the neighbors to the south in British Columbia might have some suggestions where to obtain bigger plants, just in case you decide to return and can make a recommendation.

By the way, Sitka along with Juneau (State Capitol) are both in the "banana belt" of Alaska so they can grow a lot of things that their neighbors to the north cannot.

Thanks for the post! Anybody got pics of the most northern (outdoor grown) palm(s) on the East Coast of North America? Steve

Edited by Hidden Palms

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Banana Joe

Nonsense, some of you folks better do your homework before posting here. There are two very nice T.fortunei palms growing quite happily in Sitka, Alaska. They were both planted by JD Rowell in 1992 and they have not been protected. Both are located in a good microclimate up against a buildling. They have been featured a few times in the pages of HPI, they were in there not so long ago. As for Rhapidophyllum h. and S.minor not making it in San. Fran., lol. We grow them here on the south west coast of BC, Canada. One of my Sabal minor flowers, but I haven't seen seed and R.hystrix is a breeze to grow here. They do prefer full sun at our latitude of 48 degrees north. I grow R.hystrix and there are others on our island as well, one in town flowers. We also grow otehr Sabals as well and they seem to love it here, one in town was planted in 1997 and it is fool proof. There are also S.minor and S.palmetto in private gardens as well.

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Banana Joe

That's crazy because they have flourished since 1992 and last I saw them they looked great, Hmmmm? Did they recieve a bad deep freeze or did someone who hated palms poison them?

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iamjv

Banana Joe... were there other trachy's other than the ones I posted here (in front of the AK Pioneer Home)???? If so, they are not well known.... seems everybody I talked to knew about the ones in front of the Pioneer Home (yet no one realized they had died....) and stated they were the only ones in town.... Jv

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Logolight

The fact the palm is stuffed in the corner of two walls indicate they were trying to create a micro-climate. But even micro-climates have their limits.

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Palmy

There have been some reports, that I am remembeirng of Rhapidophyllum hystrix surviving -15F and -20F. But im not so sure about that. I think they could take 0F, but negative 15F or 20 seems pretty unlikely. It may have survived -20F under a blanket of snow... You could try a Rhapidophyllum hystrix on the coast of alaska pretty far north.

Edited by Palmy

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ghar41
How about a mature Nannorrhops ritchiana, planted slightly higher than ground level, with wind protection and black stones around the base...?

It is not so much the cold tolerance as it is the resistance to drought, flooding, wind, etc. Nannorrhops are the toughest palms in earth!

Hello Dereck,

Nannorrhops ritchiana is not at all that cold hardy in winter wet conditions.

My place is much drier than coastal Alaska, year round warmer and in spite of this, the leaves of my Nannorrhops ritchiana are damaged each winter, they even fried completly in 2003 with a brief -10°C. The growth is also really slow.

MANU

Add the fact that its from the Middle East and needs heat in the summer! I'd love to see a picture of one growing in Alaska!

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garrin

A few years ago I was driving through a small town in south-central Illinois, a little north of the latitude of St. Louis, and I spotted a large old Rhapidophyllum hystrix growing very close to the south side of a small home there. I am sure it has seen temps possibly as low as -20F. Its only problem was that it was getting too much sun and looked a bit yellowed. I have not looked for the palm again as I am seldom in that area, but am almost certain it must still there -- that part of IL hasn't seen temps as low as 0F since my sighting. Winters have been getting much milder in the midwest for quite a few years. I have also seen healthy Sabal minors and R. hystrix in the full open in Kentucky.

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iamjv

Garrin,

I've heard of similar palm sightings/reports. The success of those plants certainly is surrounded by the heat they experience during the growing season. I still think the lack of summer heat is probably why these Alaskan trachys died. Jv

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syersj

IMO they should have planted Trachys further south on the Alaskan Panhandle. Sitka is over half way up the panhandle...I wonder if anyone has tried around Ketchikan AK or other areas further south. Really not that different climate wise from Vancouver BC, and they are growing there..

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iamjv

I didn't see any in Ketchikan. Even asked a couple of locals and they stated there weren't any there... Jv

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JasonD
Come on folks......Sitka Alaska is EXTREAM zone pushing. If Tracheycarpus fortunei won't grow there, nothing will. Rhapidophylum and Sabal minor might be more cold hardy, but they require summer heat to grow. They won't even grow in San Francisco.

Dick

Hi Dick,

My experience with Sabal minor here in San Francisco is that they grow very slowly, but they do grow and bloom. They can't be said to thrive, however. Rhapidophyllum does about the same, though I can't say I've seen it bloom. You know far better than I of course that they prefer heat; even the Rhapidophyllums at UC Berkeley Botanical Garden are much happier than anything I've seen in San Francisco, and the summers are only 5-10 degrees warmer there.

Summers in Vancouver and Seattle are warmer than SF's, and thus I'm not terribly surprised to hear that they succeed on Salt Spring Island, BC.

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palmazon

what're you all crowing about??? we eat palmheart & blubber for breakfast!

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iamjv
:P LOL ! Now you are going to get the coocnut fans all excited.... Jv

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avb

After looking at thephotos in the first post, I think they should have planted the Trachy next to the stairs where it wouldn't be in the shade.

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iamjv

Alan,

The side of the building where the palm was planted, is a west facing wall. It appears that it would generally get the hotter afternoon temps in the growing season. As such, the placement of the palms was 'ok', although I would have planted them on the other side of the central steps, so that the palms would have gotten sun earlier in the day vice what they got... Jv

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iamjv

I was fortunate enough to get a pictured forwarded to me by Bill Baker (IPS Director) of these same trachys at an early stage. The picture taken by G. Rollin Bartlett from Barrington, Rhode Island was taken a couple of years ago. You can see in the picture that the larger of the two trachys was doing fine at that time. The palm furthest to the right already seems to be going down hill.... Thanks. Jv

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avb

Too bad the stairs aren't facing south. Maybe next time we can rotate the building about 90 degrees for all day exposure.

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iamjv

Well sadly the south facing wall was narrow in comparison and didn't have that cove like effect for radiational heating...

For anyone interested, below is a link to a live web cam from just across the street where the palms were growing. Figured it might be interesting to see what the conditions are like at various times of the year. Jv

Sitka Alaska live webcam

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