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Eric in Orlando

possible Sabal etonia x palmetto hybrid

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Eric in Orlando

I came across a possible Sabal etonia x palmetto hybrid in the Seminole State Forest northwest of Orlando . It was growing among other mature Sabal etonia, Serenoa repens and juvenile Sabal palmetto on top of a hill, in sand scrub forest. The hill slopes sharply to Sulphur Run, a creek that is fed by multiple springs. On the slope and near the creek it is moist to wet dense forest habitat with lots of old, tall Sabal palmetto and thick masses of juvenile S. palmetto.
 

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Eric in Orlando

Here is a 2nd specimen that was growing nearby. 

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PalmatierMeg

Eric, could you show/explain what traits tell you those palms are etonia x palmetto hybrids? That the mother is etonia while father is palmetto and not vice versa? How prone is the Sabal genus to hybridization?

Thanks for the habitat photos.

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Jimbean

I have seen etonia that look like that before.  I would wait to see what the ripe seeds look like.

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VA Jeff

It would be interesting if this is true.  My understanding is that when similar members of the same genus overlap ranges, their hybridization barriers tend to increase, especially the more ancient the separation of the species, otherwise they would interbreed constantly.  Since the sabal genus is ancient by palm standards, it may be difficult, or possibly impossible.  But it would be great if you did find hybrids.

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Eric in Orlando

The inflorescence looks to be branched to 2 orders and shorter than the leaves as per S. etonia, S. palmetto is 3.  But the foliage totally looks like juvenile S. palmetto, never seen a S. etonia look like that. I know where the palm is located so will go back in a few months and examine the fruit.

That 2nd specimen is nearby and stood out too, it was larger, the leaves are 5-6ft high. It may be a juvenile S. palmetto flowering (which happens occasionally) but the inflorescences are short and down near the ground. I didn't get a closeup of the inflorescence to see how they were branched.

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