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PalmatierMeg

Mystery Sabal in Cape Coral wetland for ID

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PalmatierMeg

Very early one Saturday, my husband walked a trail in Rotary Park in Cape Coral. Rotary Park is located in far southern Cape Coral and preserves remnants of the brackish wetlands that once covered all of this peninsula. Cape Coral was carved out of a huge area of uninhabited primeval swampland once called Harney Point in the 1950s & 60s by two land grabbing brothers from New York. Rotary Park existed when we moved here in 1993. Its original purpose was to wow visitors and peddle building lots, i.e., "Fly 'em & Fleece 'em", with attractions like a Rose Garden and Waltzing Waters. Ironically, most (tea) roses can't survive here. After those gee-gaws closed and Cape Coral achieved cityhood, municipal leaders founded the park and fortuitously included the undeveloped remains of Harney Point.

During our walk I came upon a population of Sabals that do not resemble typical S. palmettos that are native to this area (FYI,  Sabal minor & etonia are not natives). The leaves are large, flatter and the leaflets are not so deeply cut as usual. Because it is still dry season I was able to leave the path and go about 20 yards into the habitat area and I observed many adult trunking palms as well as juveniles. They all showed similar traits and I wondered: is this another phenotype of Sabal palmetto a la Sabal Lisa but not nearly as spectacular? Or are they escaped examples of a non-native Sabal that ended up in native habitat? Most of these palms are decades old and I saw them wherever I looked. Size-wise, the adult palms had the same dimensions as S. palmetto, which is the smallest trunking Sabal, and were nothing close to the mammoth Caribbean Sabals.

I took the following photos. The adult palms were tall and difficult to photograph in the dense underbrush. Fortunately, I found juvenile palms showing the same traits.

Can someone tell me if these palms are atypical palmettos or, if not, what they might be? Thanks

Mystery_Sabal_Rotary_Park_01_04-13-19.thumb.JPG.8aa150d2097105218cf6dae7e0590556.JPGMystery_Sabal_Rotary_Park_02_04-13-19.thumb.JPG.6623332a8865ef34f7e5545e6b34025d.JPGMystery_Sabal_Rotary_Park_03_04-13-19.thumb.JPG.1208fa209c2a6a6859f2f95acbd606a5.JPGMystery_Sabal_Rotary_Park_04_04-13-19.thumb.JPG.9ffc17d244461e7d9307eee5115f4b67.JPGMystery_Sabal_Rotary_Park_05_04-13-19.thumb.JPG.7fe9e84af3c3d588e1c5d9c51dfa548a.JPGMystery_Sabal_Rotary_Park_06_04-13-19.thumb.JPG.c687789d27dd26e9ebf0d2f64bf8d972.JPGMystery_Sabal_Rotary_Park_07_04-13-19.thumb.JPG.da31dcd0454a77807aa11dd6db346e06.JPG

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