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speed of Brahea Clara

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sonoranfans

when I lived in Arizona I had some nice trunking Brahea Armatas, gorgeous palms. I brought one 5 gallon with me when I moved to florida, but it just didnt like the climate in gulf coast florida and it died after getting a mold infection. I read on palm talk that brahea clara was also blue but could take the humid climate of florida, even flourishing here. So I went and bought two 1 gallon seedlings from Tejas Tropicals identified "icy blue brahea clara". I know that some dispute that clara is even a separate species, but my experience is that they are very adapted to florida and also much faster growers than armata. Of my two, the yard guys ran over one just after planting out, damaging the roots and it subsequently died :rant: . My other clara has grown remarkably fast though, almost 6' overall now. And the color has moved towards blue even more as it grew. The color does shift a little towards green in winter and back towards blue in the dry hot late spring season as my armatas did in Arizona. Here is my clara in august 2011 just before planting out, and a few weeks ago. Im not sure where to get these palms any more as Tejas seems to have gone out of the palm business. If you can find one, it should be good to at least 9a and will offer a nice splash of blue in the yard.

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Brahea Axel

Tom, those clara from Tejas Tropicals are incredible! Yours looks really healthy and happy. I have one from Tejas Tropicals that's gone from two juvenile leaves to divided leaves in 9 months and it's already featuring silver, but it did start out green, compared to armata, which starts out blue from the get go.

Brahea clara is indeed fast, even here in coolish Norcal. I've heard it's a fast grower even in San Francisco's Mark Twain Summers. It's one of the most spectacular brahea featuring those droopy leaflets on enormous deeply costapalmate leaves. When I saw one for the first time, I got confused and thought it was some sort of silver version of sabal causiarum. It looks like desert meets the tropics. It definitely has a much higher tolerance for humid climates when compared to brahea armata.

For me, it was love at first sight, I was ready to plant a whole forest of claras after seeing them for the first time. There is quite a bit of variation with brahea clara. Some are quite silver, others are more olive green in coloration. Some have droopier leaves than others. I cherry picked my firs clara out of large 24" boxes in Fallbrook, and I can tell you there was considerable variation in the amount of silver and droopiness, so I cherry picked the droopiest, most silver one I could find, and it's an incredible palm. And if money wasn't an issue, I would have hauled a dozen 24" boxes home.

The color does indeed vary as a function of humidity more than temperature or sun exposure. Our drought Winter this year has featured desert-like Winter conditions with incredibly low humidity levels, almost no cloud cover, and only about 1.5 inches of rain since July. All my armatas and claras are at their peak of silver-blueness, covered with glaucous bloom, even in the shade. This observation leaves me entirely puzzled as to how your brahea armata would turn green in Phoenix' dry Winters. My most spectacular white armata is mostly shaded in Winter because of the low sun angle, and it's now much bluer and more glaucous than it was in the Summer.

I could go on and on about this species, especially after a nice cup of Costa Rican coffee this Morning. It would be interesting to discuss the merits of this palm being a separate species as opposed to a variety of armata, or if it's actually a cross between brandegei and armata. When I see the leaflets on brandegei, it makes sense that this would be a cross. No one's ever tried to actually do a real cross, until then, we won't know for sure.

Anyway, enough rambling about brahea, too much coffee. :)

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sonoranfans

Axel,
My theory of wax and blue palms has three parts.
1) wax production on leaflets reflects sunlight and protects palms against excessive heating and desiccation by rellecting heating light and also by forming a moisture barrier of sorts. the cost is loss of photosynthetically active light inside the leaflet. In the really hot season, wax is good as plenty of sun and perhaps too much heat/dryness is evident, in the cool season with short daylight hours, less protection and more photosynthesis would be ideal.

2) cold tends to make the wax more brittle, less flexible and expansion and contraction of leaflets with heating during this time may cause cracking and shedding of wax, this is also possibly why the oldest leaves are less white, more cycles of the cold season among other things like abrasion and wind. My phoenix armatas that turned a little greenish were in part shade, perhaps changing a little more towards green in an effort to increase photosynthesis. the ones in full sun did not change notably.

3) high humidity protects the plant from evapotranspiration losses as the gradient at the leaflet surface is smaller and there is a much slower evaporation rate. So humidity would favor less wax production since leaflet heating/desiccation is not as prevalent.

by the way phoenix winters aren't as dry as one might think. By far the driest time of the year is late spring where 6-9% RH(and 100 plus degrees F) is common. Humidity in winters in phoenix is about 30-50% RH by contrast. Also evaporative losses in winter outside are pretty low in phx and if evaporative losses are driving wax production it makes perfect sense. I would not compare the sun/heat of phoenix with the great weather in santa cruz. In my experience living in san jose area for a year, Santa Cruz hottest days are really quite nice compared to phoenix spring days in both heat and sun intensity.

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sonoranfans

Axel,

My theory of wax and blue palms has three parts.

1) wax production on leaflets reflects sunlight and protects palms against excessive heating and desiccation by rellecting heating light and also by forming a moisture barrier of sorts. the cost is loss of photosynthetically active light inside the leaflet. In the really hot season, wax is good as plenty of sun and perhaps too much heat/dryness is evident, in the cool season with short daylight hours, less protection and more photosynthesis would be ideal.

2) cold tends to make the wax more brittle, less flexible and expansion and contraction of leaflets with heating during this time may cause cracking and shedding of wax, this is also possibly why the oldest leaves are less white, more cycles of the cold season among other things like abrasion and wind. My phoenix armatas that turned a little greenish were in part shade, perhaps changing a little more towards green in an effort to increase photosynthesis. the ones in full sun did not change notably.

3) high humidity protects the plant from evapotranspiration losses as the gradient at the leaflet surface is smaller and there is a much slower evaporation rate. So humidity would favor less wax production since leaflet heating/desiccation is not as prevalent.

by the way phoenix winters aren't as dry as one might think. By far the driest time of the year is late spring where 6-9% RH(and 100 plus degrees F) is common. Humidity in winters in phoenix is about 30-50% RH by contrast. Also evaporative losses in winter outside are pretty low in phx and if evaporative losses are driving wax production it makes perfect sense. I would not compare the sun/heat of phoenix with the great weather in santa cruz. In my experience living in san jose area for a year, Santa Cruz hottest days are really quite nice compared to phoenix spring days in both heat and sun intensity. I love the brahea armatas and claras, gorgeous palms. Have you posted pics of yours here? Yeah I hear you about too much coffee....time to switch to green tea for the day...

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Brahea Axel

Axel,

My theory of wax and blue palms has three parts.

1) wax production on leaflets reflects sunlight and protects palms against excessive heating and desiccation by rellecting heating light and also by forming a moisture barrier of sorts. the cost is loss of photosynthetically active light inside the leaflet. In the really hot season, wax is good as plenty of sun and perhaps too much heat/dryness is evident, in the cool season with short daylight hours, less protection and more photosynthesis would be ideal.

2) cold tends to make the wax more brittle, less flexible and expansion and contraction of leaflets with heating during this time may cause cracking and shedding of wax, this is also possibly why the oldest leaves are less white, more cycles of the cold season among other things like abrasion and wind. My phoenix armatas that turned a little greenish were in part shade, perhaps changing a little more towards green in an effort to increase photosynthesis. the ones in full sun did not change notably.

3) high humidity protects the plant from evapotranspiration losses as the gradient at the leaflet surface is smaller and there is a much slower evaporation rate. So humidity would favor less wax production since leaflet heating/desiccation is not as prevalent.

by the way phoenix winters aren't as dry as one might think. By far the driest time of the year is late spring where 6-9% RH(and 100 plus degrees F) is common. Humidity in winters in phoenix is about 30-50% RH by contrast. Also evaporative losses in winter outside are pretty low in phx and if evaporative losses are driving wax production it makes perfect sense. I would not compare the sun/heat of phoenix with the great weather in santa cruz. In my experience living in san jose area for a year, Santa Cruz hottest days are really quite nice compared to phoenix spring days in both heat and sun intensity.

I was comparing this year's Winter to Phoenix, because of the drought it's probably comparable to Phoenix in the Winter. But I would never dream of comparing the rest of the year with Phoenix. My point was that it appears that the humidity levels play a bigger role than sunshine. I used to think it was the sun, but now that I've seen my shaded brahea armatas go totally silver-blue, it made me realize it's the humidity. Sunshine plays a much smaller role.

Anyway, here are my star clara palm:

db5d044d-6e60-47e4-9ff7-efa9e56ac4ed_zps

Here it is next to my star parajubaea:

a4acb629-1375-4425-bdb5-85ddff51ab0b_zps

And here is my star armata. It had roots into the ground when it was pulled up at the nursery, so it has experienced some setback, but it's not too bad. it's just slower than clara so takes longer to recover.

20140108_142651_zpswdcliilo.jpg

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Shirleypalmpaws

Beautiful growth Tom! I hope Tejas sees this thread and can clarify, I think 'icy blue' is available.

Axel, omg, those photos are beautiful!

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sonoranfans

gorgeous palms axel :yay: , hope mine weeps like your some day, but if it doesn't I still love it! It looks like California is the place to get claras, kind of like copernicias in florida...

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sonoranfans

Beautiful growth Tom! I hope Tejas sees this thread and can clarify, I think 'icy blue' is available.

Axel, omg, those photos are beautiful!

I didn't know they still sold those Shirley. That is the palm I bought in feb 2011, its really a 4" pot or something, not a one gallon as I had stated. And they arrived at that size looking quite green, not blue...

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Shirleypalmpaws

Tom, I got one from Tejas, too (I think it was this last spring). In some other thread, mistakenly I said it was potted up to a five gallon---but probably was smaller---and I photographed it to show roots were already filled it. It seemed greenish in the photo. But in reality it was blue-ish. Anyway, Michael and I decided to go ahead and plant it out in the backyard in Oct. Then I got scared during this arctic-vortex event-thingy and protected it. But maybe it was probably not really needing that. I hope other palm nutty people will consider it for their gardens. Brahea clara 'icy blue' is really very pretty. Thanks for starting this thread!

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Brahea Axel

gorgeous palms axel :yay: , hope mine weeps like your some day, but if it doesn't I still love it! It looks like California is the place to get claras, kind of like copernicias in florida...

Oh yes, we have lots. It's like Florida for copernicia, you walk into a palm nursery, and they will have some sort of brahea available. As of now, the only one I am still looking for is brahea pimo. But I don't hesitate to snatch up various brahea just based on what I see, there is so much variation out there for each species. The craziest of them all are aculeata and dulcis, these two species come in a myriad of forms that are completely different from one another.

BTW, there are distinct forms of clara as well. Yours looks like the San Carlos one.

A good website for looking at brahea is the Norcal Palm Society website: http://www.palmsnc.org/pages/palm_detail.php?id=7 (look in the lower left to see the entire list of brahea.)

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