Several of the palms in my garden came from an expedition to find and study different Brahea species in Northern Mexico.
The trip started in Calexico, California side attempting to sleep in my van with 103 degrees at midnight. The next morning I picked up a Mexican train bound for Los Mochis with buddy Ed Green. Don't ever do this!!! It is hot as hell going across the desert on a slow train with no air conditioning. They serve cold drinks in the daytime and when the air conditioner finally comes on at night they rent you blankets!
Glad to leave Los Mochis we rented a car and headed north. Somewhere near Alamo (a cute rustic town) we headed out to the hills in search of Brahea elegans. After negotiating a small river in our rental car the locals guided us to our first B. elegans. It looked terribly old (see image). It was growing in the gravel banks of a seasonal creek or wash. The roots were extremely exposed. After a night of good rest we headed north toward a little town (it was barely that) called Nuri. On the way we spotted the tree that I have since called Brahea sp. 'Nuri'. Seeds were collected. After seeing my plants grown from this tree and reflecting on the tree called "Nuri" (see image), I feel that it is simply a more robust form of Brahea aculeata. The trunk was more massive like B. edulis and the inflorescences extended far beyond the crown. No other palms were in this very open desert area. Several miles up the road where the "town" of Nuri was located was an incredible colony of about 20 or so Brahea aculeata (see image). Please note that one of the trees was very blue. All of them had the classic slender trunks and semi-dwarf stature. Seeds were collected then back to the city for our next day adventure finding the Santa Rosa Canyon where Brahea nitida survives. We were very close to the Nogales Arizona boarder and headed back south on a gravel back road for several miles. To the east of the road we finally spotted the canyon (see image). It was a beautiful site with palms growing every where among enormous boulders with trunks up to 40 feet or more. The canyon was extremely difficult to enter trying to climb these enormous rocks. At the time none of the trees were with seed. I was fortunate to find a few seedlings that I quickly put into my water bottle. These babies are still with my garden today. In my opinion Brahea nitida is one of the most beautiful of fan palms. They have no thorns, grow fast and their leaves are round 360+ degrees with a glaucus underside. It is my opinion that Brahea "Super Silver" is nothing but a blue nitida.
One more trip that i would like to mention on this topic was one to Monterey, Mexico where I collected Brahea moorei growing on cliffs near what is called Las Grutas or the caves north of the city of Monterey (see images).
This park is truly a Sabal pametto paradise. I know, there are plenty of parks in Florida with wild Sabal palmetto forests; however, there is something about the way nature presents itself here that keeps me coming back. These pictures were taken on Christmas Day of 2020. I have also seen Roystonea regia and Serenoa repens growing in the park as well.
So, I have always understood that Sabal species need to have a portion of their heel showing above the ground line when young. Other palm growers have told me this, and the Palmpedia entry for Sabal palmetto even says the same thing; namely, that “…this is a tillering palm, it exhibits saxophone style root growth (it has a heel), keep top third of heel above soil elevation” (http://www.palmpedia.net/wiki/Sabal_palmetto). I have always followed that advise for the Sabal species I have grown (S. palmetto, S. mexicana, S. minor, S. causiarum, and S. uresana), and I have kept a good portion on the heel above ground level (both planted in pots, and planted in the ground). I have had success in most cases; however, I have come to question the necessity of that “conventional wisdom” recently after a trip to visit my father in Cape Coral, Florida last Christmas. We went to J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island for a hike and, while there, I paid close attention to the young Sabal palmetto palms that were growing all over the place. I must have inspected over 60 juveniles, ranging from new seedlings, to palm frond heights of 3 to 4 feet. I could not find one young Sabal palmetto that was showing a heel. Most of the juveniles without trunks had their petioles growing straight out of the ground (or sand as the case may be). Since they are growing wild in habitat, I figure this is how they normally grow. Below are a few pictures I snapped there depicting this. Do any of you have thoughts on the necessity of showing heels on your Sabal species?
Looking fer Sabal etonia plants or seeds
Ed Brown ----
So we live in Lake Charles, La. Recently devastated by hurricane Laura. While driving around I noticed a fairly large palmetto tree in the ditch that someone removed from their property (4ft trunk). It looks like it will transplant pretty well. I have a few questions from the experts. Does anyone have experience moving these? How much would one with a 4 ft trunk weigh? Because we would probably have to pick it up by hand to get it in the bed of the truck. ( two 30ish year old guys) 2nd question. Does it look healthy? I feel like it's in perfect shape. Haha. Well any tips and advice would be greatly. I will attach a picture. Thanks!