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Usufruct

Queens in Sicily

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Usufruct

I observed some Queens along the coast of northern Sicily this spring and noted that first, despite the high average winter minimums (50 F) and the presence of more tender plant species (Ficus elastica, benjimina, etc.) they are few in number and second, those I did observe were in decidedly poor condition with small, open crowns, untidy fronds, and thin trunks.  This description applies not only to those near the Tyrannean Seacoast, but also those further inland.  The only Queens I saw in all of Italy that looked healthy were one or two I observed near the rail line south of Salerno.  Given that Queens do so well in Southern California, I wonder why they don't seem to thrive in the rich volcanic soils of mediterranean Italy.  Any ideas or contradictory observations?

But so as not to detract from the reputation of southern Italy as a beautiful place, I must say I have never seen more magnificent Phoenix species than in Palermo.  Mostly canariensis I would imagine, but others as well, including reclinata.

Robin Lauriault

Cross Creek, Florida

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Jim in Los Altos

Here in Northern California Queen palms look great all year if their nutritional and water needs are met. At least the ones inland a bit. I rarely see robust Queens anywhere close to the shore where the soils are alkaline and temperatures are cooler. The conditions in Sicily may be similar to those on our coast which would explain the poor looking Queens there. Rich, slightly acid soil, plenty of water, and warm temperatures and Queens grow faster than weeds.

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bubba

Robin, Extremely interesting post. I am surprised that Queen Palms do not do better in Sicily or Southern Italy. Please describe the size and age of the Ficus you observed together with any other cold sensitive species. Cross Creek, Florida is also a very interesting  location. I would believe that Queen Palms would grow sucessfully. What about Ficus?

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Daryl

There was an IPS member in Sicily who had a magnificent collection (probably still has too!), including a lot of exotics far more tender than Queen palms, such as Ptychosperma etc which were growing outside for many years without a problem.

I'd say the locals just haven't 'discovered' exotic palms yet.

Daryl.

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MattyB

It might just be a case of palm neglect.  Our street planted queens here in So Cal can look pretty sad growing in a dry little square cut out in the sidewalk.  They're bulletproof but need care to look best.

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merrill

Hi, Robin:

Very nice to hear from you.  Immediately I was certain it was you who used  Jefferson's phrase.  Suspected you were over there when your phone wasn't answered.

The other posts have probably hit on it.  There are a lot more "subsidies" in water and nutrition in the better known areas of S. California.  BTW, there are some interesting Jubaea and Butia X Jubaea where you are [were?]. - merrill

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Carlo Morici

Robin,

I was born and rised in Sicily until I was 18 and I still go back there every August, so I know what you are talking about. I believe that Syagrus romanzoffiana dislikes the dry summers of the Mediterranean, so it does not look so good unless watered properly and planted in the right soil. My hometown, Messina is much more humid than Palmermo and they do better. It is just "palm neglect" and I believe it is not a question of temperature, as Sicily hosts marvellous subtropical gardens.

The botanical garden of Palermo, visited during the IPS post biennial trip of 2002 is a great historical place, with centenary palms and trees as tropical as Ficus bengalensis or Coccothrinax barbadensis. Sicily it is not as “good” as California because we at a higher latiturde, as the island is located between lat. 36 and 38 N, so winters are longer and darker. But the Mediterranean sea is exceedingly warm for such a high latitude, so frosts happens less often than in Miami. Totally frost free spots can be found anywhere on the luckiest coasts. To give you some examples, Dypsis lutescens and Roystonea regia are marginal palms, that grow well only in these blessed areas.

Bubba, I don’t know the exact datum, but the BG’s in Palermo grows a large collection of Ficus, well above 100 species, many outdoors.

Back to S.romanzoffiana, we see the same behaviour in the Canary Islands. It does so-so on the coast, unless soils are improved and irrigation is kept continuous. It thrives to perfection at wetter higher elevations (>400m) despite the much cooler temperatures.

Carlo, Tenerife

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DoomsDave

Usufruct!

Nice to meet you!

Hmm.   Maybe an Italian-speaker will give you a proper greeting . . . .

How about some pictures?  ANYTHING of Sicily.

dave

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jam99

I agree with what has been written above. S. romanzoffiana does require to be taken care of to look good. Locals plant palms that look good despite the neglect they receive such as Phoenix canarienses or Washingtonia mostly robusta unless you're in Turkey where filifera prevails. If the Med. region had more precipitation in summer I believe the queen would be much more popular. Cheers, Jan

queens.jpg

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