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Lodoicea maldivica coco de mer in conservatory

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piping plovers

Lodoicea maldivica, coco de mer growing in the conservatory at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.  It’s grown a lot since I visited years ago.  The top frond is pushing up against the glass ceiling. Even at this immature stage, truly gigantic proportions; seems so other-worldly as its scale and proportions have no relation to anything around it or to what most would encounter.  The staff horticulturalist mentioned to me that they have plans to raise the glass ceiling to accommodate this specimen.

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PalmsandLiszt

Is this one in a pot or in the ground? I know Kew had one in a pot late 80s/early 90s and it didn't do well and wasted away. They got another seed some time around the mid to late 90s and planted it directly in the ground (I remember seeing it when it had one leaf), and the last time I saw it two or three years ago it was likewise gigantic. They have ridiculously long tap roots.

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piping plovers
4 hours ago, PalmsandLiszt said:

Is this one in a pot or in the ground?

It was planted in the ground in the conservatory.  Yes, I can imagine the taproot would be very long as everything with the plant is proportionally oversized.  

There was one planted outdoors at Flamingo Gardens in Florida.  I saw it about a decade ago and it was approximately this size or larger.  I later visited and it was gone; someone on this forum mentioned that it was damaged in a storm or succumbed to an unusually cold weather spell.

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hbernstein

I think that they have evolved to be pretty typhoon resistant.

Garfield park conservatory had one, some years ago, that started touching the glazing and was relocated within the Palm Room. It sure didn't like being moved! It died after two years. 

I think that Lodoicea would do fine outdoors in the warmest parts of South Florida along the coast but I'm sure that it doesn't like alkaline, limey soil. Bet I could grow one well in Pinecrest Gardens, if seed was more available! 

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Palmarum
2 hours ago, piping plovers said:

.... There was one planted outdoors at Flamingo Gardens in Florida.  I saw it about a decade ago and it was approximately this size or larger.  I later visited and it was gone; someone on this forum mentioned that it was damaged in a storm or succumbed to an unusually cold weather spell.

The giant one at Flamingo Gardens was so much fun to look at.

It would be pushing trunk now if the cold hadn't gotten it. It was hit twice by cold, a double whammy, in 2009 and 2010. It was the highlight of every tour. They actually had two there. A smaller one was added sometime in the early 2000s(?) and had good size to it; planted in behind and surrounded by landscape plants. Most didn't see it. I think the heavy surrounding vegetation was there to protect it from people, kids and golf carts. It.. too.. fell to the cold after being thrashed a bit by wind and debris courtesy of Hurricane Wilma in 2005. After the second one had taken off and was growing, I remember there was talk of getting a third seed.

I remember making a point to go over and see it every time there was an event at the gardens.

Ryan

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piping plovers
58 minutes ago, hbernstein said:

Bet I could grow one well in Pinecrest Gardens, if seed was more available! 

Yes, the deep taproot for monsoons would make sense.  I was not aware of Pinecrest Gardens in south Florida; looks like an interesting place to visit.  I’ll add that stop to my next visit to Florida.

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piping plovers
43 minutes ago, Palmarum said:

It would be pushing trunk now if the cold hadn't gotten it. It was hit twice by cold, a double whammy, in 2009 and 2010. It was the highlight of every tour. They actually had two there

Thanks for posting that info Ryan.  I hope they do get another one.  I’m curious if the seeds become available by lottery to eligible botanical gardens or if just to any highest bidder.

I remember that cold snap when visiting from up north.  The coconut palms had freeze burn even all the way down to the Thousand Islands entrance to the Everglades. I was down there visiting the Everglades. Must be among the warmest parts of Florida I imagine.

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Cindy Adair

Thanks for the photos! I too used to visit the one at Flamingo Gardens and miss it.

I nearly always stop by Fairchild when in FL to see this palm.

Still on my wish list for Puerto Rico! Any legal ideas welcome!

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piping plovers
15 minutes ago, Cindy Adair said:

Still on my wish list for Puerto Rico! Any legal ideas welcome!

My pleasure Cindy.  One of these palms would fit in so nicely in your beautiful gardens in the mountains; I do hope you can acquire one! I was just viewing the photos you posted recently; plantings are filling in nicely and I noticed the wonderful Joey palms. I might have damaged my indoor potted Joey by under watering but am keeping an eye on it.

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Palmarum
5 hours ago, hbernstein said:

.... I think that Lodoicea would do fine outdoors in the warmest parts of South Florida along the coast but I'm sure that it doesn't like alkaline, limey soil. Bet I could grow one well in Pinecrest Gardens, if seed was more available! 

There are more than a couple in and around Pinecrest and Coral Gables, but it has been a while since I have seen/heard about them.

This topic and other recent discussion on and off the Forum about Lodoicea reminded me of a palm-related event back in May of 2019. It was a garden tour of Fairchild and two private collections put together as a joint effort between the South Florida Palm Society and the Palm Beach Palm & Cycad Society. It was unique for me as the day included the viewing of two separate specimens of Lodoicea maldivica... the individual in the Fairchild Rare Plant House and a specimen in the first private collection. I had a lot of fun taking hundreds of photos during the day and had planned to make a topic of the event, but it would need to be elaborate, long and in sections and I didn't have the time.

A brief look at the day, May 4th...

 

- 10:41AM - A walk-through of the Rare Plant house was the second part of four, during the morning tour at Fairchild. When the group entered, they split off in all directions and we took our time looking around. Eventually we made it to the lower wing...

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- Even with a wide-angle lens, it was hard to get the entire Lodoicea maldivica into one frame. When comparing these images with those posted above, there does seem to be a difference. The first photos above seem to have the upper leaves smooshed against the screen, while these have just reached or barely reached that height.

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- My two best attempts at photographing the entire palm, from two different directions. There is a spot of sagging screen in the second shot, but I can't tell if its above the palm or between the further two beams.

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...

- 1:46PM - Later in the afternoon, we were exploring the third 'section' of the day, Secret Garden #1, when a mass gathered at one corner of the vast estate. It did not take long to see why. The crowd had discovered and surrounded the Double Coconut, Lodoicea maldivica. This particular specimen has a detailed history, from harvest as a seed, to planting, to germination and so on. It had it's own chunk of real estate all to itself. Everyone had to stop and admire it.

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- Among Palm fanatics, and even those in the tropical plant world, this species is a celebrity. Attendees were taking turns having their photo taken with it. (B) The tour had paused in this one spot as SFPS member and FM. Elvis Cruz (Elvis Cruz) described the history behind the palm. Elvis @Elvis Cruz was also the organizer of the tour and had the entire day planned perfectly.

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...

 

What a great PRA... only eight months prior to the pandemic, little did we know.

Ryan

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hbernstein

The one in the ground looks great.

Part of the struggle to grow the species in South Florida is that the in-ground conditions are nothing like its habitat: well-drained sand with additional organic material near abundant groundwater.

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piping plovers
14 hours ago, Palmarum said:

Among Palm fanatics, and even those in the tropical plant world, this species is a celebrity. Attendees were taking turns having their photo taken with it.

That made me chuckle and good way of putting it. Thanks for sharing these event photos and details, Ryan.  What an opportunity to visit and learn among other enthusiasts.

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piping plovers
43 minutes ago, hbernstein said:

the in-ground conditions are nothing like its habitat: well-drained sand with additional organic material near abundant groundwater.

Ah, that makes sense.  I was wondering what the limiting factors would be in south Florida.  Curious if there are big specimens of this species grown in Hawaii or if they have their own set of limiting factors.

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