It was the second Saturday of the Fall 'Ganza, Oct. 13th, two weeks ago. Everything is peaceful, the sale is going on as planned, the weather is perfect, a slight breeze moves through the sales area; it is an overall great day for the event. I am in the BBQ area, which borders one of the old landscaped areas of the nursery, getting my lunch. I am putting mustard on my hotdog when I look up, viewing past the overhang of the BBQ area and I see a bright green object hanging over the roof of the nearby mist house. "Huh?" I say to myself...
I leave my food unattended and move forward for a closer look and identify the object as a giant, newly emergent inflorescence, lying prone over the shadecloth...
"Where the hell did that come from?!" I said out loud, surprising the people around me. "Damn, the Mauritia is flowering."
- I bring my camera to bear, which I had with me (no surprise) and took this shot below while shaking, the thought of food totally gone from my mind. It wasn't just one inflorescence, it was three of them, emerging from the leaf bases in a triangular formation. This palm, planted 20-plus years ago was flowering for the first time. It was an event we had always dreamed about but figured it would never happen. This is the largest specimen around in S. Florida that we know of and thus had no real reference to know when it would mature. I always check the older palms in the area to see if any are in bloom, but this came out of nowhere. I always thought I would catch the first beginnings of the inflorescence as it was clearing the leaf bases, but this was way past that. I am usually too busy during the sale to check, unless a customer wants to look at a larger specimen in the ground before buying a smaller one. This happens with the Mauritia a lot actually, but no one had asked this Fall.
- I began firing at will. Taking photos from every angle I could get to. The palm is so massive and the area is so packed with plants it was hard to get wider shots of the entire tree. I was still freaking out a bit, I took the first photo below without a flash. It shows how dark it was under the canopy of the massive palm, and at 12:13 in the afternoon. The second shot shows one of the super thick and heavy rachises, as I am looking at it from below. I could reach this one as it was closer to the ground and I tried to swing it. I could feel the density and weight and could only imagine it bearing tons of the large scaly fruit. Total wowness.
- Of the three inflorescences, this was the only one that presented a clear view. It was facing the small open area that held the picnic benches. It seemed to be growing larger right in front of me. I had to stop taking photos now and then just to touch it. The rachillae were equally heavy and over-built and I figured they had to be to support hundreds of the large fruit.
- One of the many things that were surprising, was the seemingly abrupt angle of the penduncles as they were emerging past the leaf bases. One would think they would follow the direction or angle of the closest petiole or leaf base, but they seem to make hard right turns as they emerge. This is a common sight by the zillions in its native habitat, but the first I have seen close up. As I was shooting photos left, right, up and down, it dawned on me that Jeff didn't know...
Was surprised recently to see that my Socratea exorrhiza was starting to put out it's first inflorescence and
was taken aback at how striking the spathe and the flowers are. It's nice to be able to see these up close at eye
level because fairly soon, from the palms fast growth rate, I'll be looking up at them.
The first pic was just after planting in October of 2008. The next was taken a few days ago.