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Jono Miller

Sabal palmetto cold damage

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Jono Miller

In the wake of the early 2010 winter, I'm looking for information and photographs of cold damaged cabbage palms. In particular, I'm interested in 1) the fate of palms that had been burdened with snow loads, 2) symptoms of cold damage in mature palms, and 3) symptoms of damage in seedling and juvenile palms. Photographs combined with location information and what is known about the tree (transplanted or grown in place) would be especially helpful.

I may be retracing paths others have trod, but I'm trying to understand the original distribution of Sabal palmetto in the Southeast before they were extensively relocated. It seems obvious that mature Sabal palms can survive way beyond their historic range. In light of both the survival of the transplanted adults and the germination of seedlings, it begs the question of why cabbage palms weren't found more extensively throughout the Southeast, where they apparently were never found more than 60 mies from the coast.

One possibility is that, while mature palms can tolerate significant cold, they would never have the opportunity if seedlings and juveniles succumbed for any reason. One reason could be cold.

Jono

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palmsOrl

I don't have any photos Dono, but I would like to comment on my observations. I have noticed driving north on I 75 that once you get north of around Gainesville, the Sabal palmettos begin to look different. Their trunks are usually alot skinnier, the leaves paler, and they rarely carry a nice full crown of leaves like they do further south. This could be due to malnutrition of these palms that were planted in a less than ideal location, or it could be from longer, colder winters. I suspect that the reason they don't grow farther north naturally is due to a combination of factors such as less prolific seeding the farther north they grow and tougher conditions for seedling establishment. In addition, areas north of around I 10 or so have historically experienced temperatures at or below 0 F during epic freezes. That is enough to kill any Sabal palmetto.

-Michael

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Ed Askew

I live just south of Hattiesburg, MS, zone 8a, about 55 miles from the Gulf. I had 500 watts of Christmas lights up in my sabal palmettos (eight of them, most at least 14 feet) 5 of which were transplanted in 2007, 3 the next year, the word is harvested near Homestead, FL. I have some leaf burn mostly at the tips of the leaves. We had snow twice, a good bit of it more than 4 inches each time this year. It got down to 15 degrees at the lowest, and it was below freezing for over 48 hrs, and below 20 degrees every night for a week straight. The ground was frozen solid. One of my nicest palms had a petiole break on a large frond. It happened a week after the last snowfall, that had really bent the heck out of the petioles on that particular frond, and it broke in high winds. I have hundreds of seedlings which grow like weeds anywhere there is water ( I didn't plant them). They seem undamaged; in fact I'm pretty sure one of them already is putting out new leaves and it's still cold here. Most of my sabal palmettos have almost no damage. I can post some pictures later, but that's about the story for us.

The lowest temperature ever recorded in Hattiesburg was Feb 13th, 1899. -1 degrees F. That's why S. Palmetto isn't native here.

Ed.

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Keith in SoJax

My impression is that S. palmetto prefers sandy soil to clay. Sure, it'll grow in clay, but if you look at them in North and South Carolina, those in the sandy soil outperform those in clay. Certainly Columbia SC and New Bern NC are colder than Gainesville and the S. palmettos look great in both places. If you want to see some nice pix of S. palmettos in cold places, go to www.garysnursery.com and look at his photos. Snow and freezing rain does cause problems. If the fronds bend under the weight, it's important to remove the snow or the fronds are likely to remain bent down. Sabal palmetto around Charlotte and Raleigh suffer this fate. Regardless, I don't think the observed lack of vigor is related to the temps. S. palmetto is pretty solid to at least 5-10F. In Columbia SC and Augusta GA S. palmetto withstood temps below zero in the 1980s.

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NBTX11

What is the absolute minimum a Sabal can take and not have any frond damage?

What is the absolute min. a Sabal can take, defoliate, but recover, on average?

What is the absolute lowest an extraordinary Sabal has taken and recovered from?

I am thinking of adding a couple to my yard (to replace a queen palm that succumbed from 16F). My all time record low is around 2F, and of course we have mature, very old sabals all over town, so I know their good to go here, but I was just wondering what they recover from. I saw no damage to any sabals from mid teens this year, coldest in the last 20 years.

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Charles kelly

What is the farthest north (hardiness zone) a mature sabal palm can survive?  I live in zone 7b and some winters here are pretty rough

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teddytn
On 3/5/2010 at 6:47 PM, NBTX11 said:

What is the absolute minimum a Sabal can take and not have any frond damage?

What is the absolute min. a Sabal can take, defoliate, but recover, on average?

What is the absolute lowest an extraordinary Sabal has taken and recovered from?

 

I am thinking of adding a couple to my yard (to replace a queen palm that succumbed from 16F). My all time record low is around 2F, and of course we have mature, very old sabals all over town, so I know their good to go here, but I was just wondering what they recover from. I saw no damage to any sabals from mid teens this year, coldest in the last 20 years.

This is right up my alley, I’m very interested if you have any updated info to your questions? 

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