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Keith2

Are Royal Palm Root Systems Destructive?

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Keith2

Hello Palm Experts,

I have just planted a Royal Palm in my backyard in SW Florida, located at 20 feet from my neighbor's house and 17 feet from my house. My neighbor read a post on Yahoo, that Royal Palms have huge, destructive root systems and I am now concerned about whether my tree poses any threat to either structure.

I already reviewed RKR's posting on the difference between palm roots and other tree roots (topic 4185 - Palm 101 Basics). It was very informative and concluded that because palm roots remain relatively constant in size, and create many interwoven runners, palm roots would not crack concrete like other tree roots sometimes do.

Because of the contradictory post on Yahoo, I would like to reconfirm the information in RKR's post specifically with respect to Royal Palms and the circumstances of my planting.

Please advise what size the root structure is on a Royal Palm and whether a Royal Palm will pose any threat to a structure located 17 to 20 feet from the tree? Has anyone actually seen any substantial damage done by a Royal Palm root?

Please also give some background on your knowledge, to lend credibility to the answer. I want to offset the damage done by those internet know-it-alls.

I really appreciate all your help and knowledge.

Best regards,

Keith

PS: Here is the content of that post on Yahoo, so you can understand how foolish it sounds:

"My understanding is that Royal Palms have ENORMOUS root systems and they are very destructive. I would not plant one closer than 30 feet from the house. I would also check with a local nurseryman to find out. I saw a DIY landscape show and they had to remove a Royal Palm that wasn't that tall, and the root system was moving a wall.

Let's face it, Royal Palms have root systems that can keep a tree rooted during a hurricane. Granted the tree bends pretty well, but if the root system couldn't hold it, they wouldn't last long would they?"

<http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080805164547AAlDb2l>

Edited by Keith2

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DoomsDave

Given the size of the area your palm is in, I'd say it's more or less inconceivable that the roots would damage anything.

Big as they are, Royal palms don't have anything close to the matter contained, say, in a large Ficus.

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Jeff Searle

Hi, and welcome to PalmTalk. Now that you left the Little League (Yahooooooo), come join us and play with the "Big Boys". :) You'll find alot of good, and pretty accurate information here. People from all over the world are more than willing to help.

Getting back to your question, no...the roots from your Royal palm will be no bother to your neighbor's house, or yours at that distance. Now, a large Royal palm can drop heavy leaves that depending on what plants are growing underneath or near it could cause a problem when the leaf drops off and hits these plants.

My background includes a couple of years or so with messing around with plants. :)

But welcome......any pictures of your garden?

Jeff

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gsn

I wouldn't listen to a thing Jeff has to say,only a couple of years messing around with plants? What kind of credentials is that? :lol:

Actually Jeff,is a long time nursery man specializing in palms,you can take his expertise and advice to the bank! :winkie:

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Palm Guy

From my understanding palm roots are much less destructive than other tree roots. Reason being that when roots of trees such as a ficus get into an existing crack in your foundation... they grow and expand in diameter thus pulling the foundation apart and making any existing microcracks larger. When a palm tree sprouts a new root that root stays a fixed diameter for the duration of the roots life. So while they can get into existing cracks, they wont issue any more damage because they're root does not increase in diameter.

Now the sheer mass of roots may be pressure on surrounding objects but at that distance no problem!

Hope this helps.

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JayW

You have nothing to worry about.

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bgl

Keith,

Welcome to the PalmTalk Forum! And I agree with comments made above. 10-12 years I planted around 50 Roystonea oleracea and regia along a driveway at the back of our property. Shortly thereafter we paved the driveway (with asphalt). Roots from the Royals are now buckling the asphalt, up to about an inch or in some places an inch and a half vertically and up to roughly 15 feet away from each palm. Concrete, being a much harder material than asphalt, would probably withstand the pressure from the roots better. Based on the above, my guess would be that anything beyond a 15 ft radius from a Royal palm would be perfectly OK with no damage whatsoever.

Aloha from the Big Island!

Bo-Göran

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Palm Guy

Hi Bo,

Long time no speak. I find that concrete is slightly stronger than asphalt also but I believe that asphalt might be easier (and cheaper) to maintain and resurface. I have a stepping stone driveway made out of concrete and even small shrub roots tend to uplift or distort the stepping stones.

I like your grounds with the asphalt so don't change it!

Cheers,

Mike

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Dave-Vero

Bo's observation is interesting and worth remembering.

Palms, being monocots, grow entirely differently from non-monocots (these days, the term "dicot" is a bit wobbly because it's better to think of "basal angiosperms" and "eudicots". The former are water lilies, magnolias, and assorted other "primitive" flowering plants. The Eudicots are everything else that isn't a monocot).

Woody Basals and Eudicots have cambium, the sheath of cells that divide to form wood on the inside, food-transporting cells and bark on the outside. A stem or root can start out skinny and gradually grow thick. Monocot trunks and roots are built of bundles of wood and food cells surrounded by storage tissue. No cambium. Many palm trunks will swell as they reach maturity, but roots won't do so much swelling. So the root systems of palms are made up of roots that start at the base of the plant and spread outward with little or no branching.

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Tyrone

Don't believe everything you read on Yahoo. Anyone can say what they like on the Internet, but you can't believe it all. Notice that the guy on Yahoo posted at the beginning didn't say where the palm was planted in relation to the wall. It might have been planted 12 inches away. In which case the palms need to expand it's trunk and root mass to hold itself up in future times would definitely do some damage. As already stated, palms do not have the secondary thickening of root structures like dicots or ordinary trees have, so a hair like root can not expand into a wall cracking root structure. 17 feet away is definitely a safe distance. If I was you I'd plant a few more, you have plenty of room. :)

Best regards

Tyrone

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PalmatierMeg

We planted our royal in 1993 less than 15' from the house and its roots haven't bothered a thing even though it is now 30+ feet tall with a trunk diameter of 3+'. Of course, the "thud" of a frond hitting the ground makes me jump out of my shoes.

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Jose Maria

I agree with the aformentioned, palms dont destroy houses. Not until they fall on top of them!

Close to my office, there are huge Royal palms planted something like 50 years ago, and the cement walkway ( big stone slabs) next to them is the same as on day one.

See if I can get some pictures.( my avatar is one but without details)

Edited by Jose Maria

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osideterry

I was going through my photos and found this example of how un-destructive Royal's roots are.

post-662-1240362692_thumb.jpg

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Keith2

Hello,

Thanks everyone for all your support. I have really learned a lot about Royal Palms through all this. I also went out looking at mature plantings, and found some that were right up against sidewalks without any damage whatsoever.

I took the information that was in a previous post (4185) together with additional info that is in this thread, to make an update to the issue of why palm tree roots are not destructive to concrete sidewalks or foundations.

"Palms are monocots and are related to giant grasses. Regular trees such as Live Oak are eudicots.  

Monocot root structures do not dramatically increase in size once the plant is past the juvenile or seed leaf stage.   Palm roots form from a “basal plate” at the base of the trunk and stay more or less the same diameter all along their length for the life of the palm. And, they are more flexible. Chop a palm root, and it might sprout from where you cut it, or it might re-grow from the basal plate.  

On the other hand, eudicot tree structures usually do get much larger. That’s why an old oak tree will have a massive trunk and roots; it keeps adding rings of wood as it grows and ages.   Eudicot roots get much larger and harder with time.

Woody eudicots have cambium, the sheath of cells that divides to form wood on the inside, food-transporting cells and bark on the outside. A eudicot tree root will start out skinny and gradually grow thick. Monocot palm roots are built of bundles of wood and food cells surrounded by storage tissue. They do not have cambium.

A eudicot tree root will work its way through a hairline crack in the concrete wall, and, if it finds water and/or nutrition on the other side, will get thicker and harder with time.  If a monocot palm root happens to work its way through the crack, it will not get any thicker and will remain flexible."

Perhaps another new member will find this consolidated information useful 

Thanks again for your helpfulness. :)

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Kris

Dear Terry :)

Fentastic Visual & its totally self explinatory ! :winkie::)

Love,

Kris :)

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roman schepis

I live in South Florida and a Royal Palm grew wild from a seed about 4 feet from the side of my house. It is just now reaching the roof in height and has a foot or so of wood.

In this thread the consensus was a Royal 15 feet away from his house was no big deal but with my Royal Palm being a lot closer, do I need to care or worry?

Thanks!

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DoomsDave

Roman!

Welcome!

As far as roots go, no problem. They won't lift things.

However, royals also drop big leaves (50-60 pounds) onto whatever is under them, and they can, for example, break car windows. So, if it's right next to your driveway, that could be a problem.

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_Keith

I remember a decade ago staying in a hotel in downtown Miami. Some of the sidewalk panels were rising around the Royals, so they had just enlarged the openings for the roots. The Royal were 40 years old. They had enlarged the openings for the palms up to 8 feet x 8 feet. I think you're safe.

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stevethegator

Planted two Royals to replace dead Queens....directly next to the driveway. Not ideal to say the least but I've actually seen it done. It'll be awhile before they drop big fronds on anything, they're just now starting to trunk.

As far as roots go, it's been pretty well described above, they barely damage sidewalks so I wouldn't think they'd damage a house at all

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