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bdtaylor

Incredible specimen palms at Ventura College

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bdtaylor

Guys...has anyone seen the palms around the parking lot at the Ventura College West Entrance? Although they look a bit neglected and underwatered now, they're clearly very old and some are really weird species I've never seen in person before. I'm definitely gonna need help with ID below genus level (and sometimes genus too).

1) Hyophorbe verschafeltii? Maybe Dypsis decipiens? 

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2) Pritchardia (no idea what species)

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3) Roystonea (regia?)

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4) Some sort of Ceroxylon (?!!!!)

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5) Pair of Parajubaea cocoides (right?)

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6&7) No freakin clue...something very tall and thin the likes of which I've only seen in Hawaii. Some kind of Dypsis right? I'm out of my depth 

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8) Howea forsteriana and Rhopalostylis (species?) 

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9) Beautifully trunking clump of Acoelorrhaphe wrightii

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bdtaylor

There were also a lot of Sabal and Brahea but I don't find those as interesting and I was so overwhelmed by the variety of huge unusual pinnate palms that I didn't take pics of many palmate ones.

ALSO...across the street at an apartment complex are the two tallest Roystonea I've ever seen in CA, as well as massive trunking Jubaeopsis caffra, a very tall narrow Thrinax (I think), huge Hedyscepe canterburyana that have SELF SOWN...IN CALIFORNIA!! Tons of mature kentia, smaller Chamaedorea of many kinds, I think even an Areca vestiaria.  This would be by the intersection of Baylor and Telegraph Rd; you can't miss it because of the huge Royals.

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mnorell

John Tallman (of Ventura College) and Pauleen Sullivan were the "dynamic duo" when it came to planting unusual palms (and having success at it). Ventura is such a perpetually cool SoCal climate, and yet I remember being awestruck in the late '80s and early '90s on trips up there for Palm Society meetings...to see Veitchia arecina planted as a street-tree (you have to remember it was really just about never planted in SoCal in those days), and so many others, not just surviving but thriving. That Hyophorbe verschaffeltii looks battered and tattered but still, it's amazing it's even alive in that climate. The trunk at least has the size and characteristic form you'd expect. And I think those two tall, skinny palms are indeed Dypsis, I would guess something in the D. pembana-ish group, but I'm sure somebody on this forum will remember exactly what they are. Those suckers are t-a-l-l !!!

It's kind of sad to see some of these photos, because after both Pauleen and John have left the scene, quite a few of these plants seem a bit forlorn, apparently receiving little care (though some look remarkably good). In my memory at least, they used to look a lot better! John would publish periodic articles, all highly detailed with lots of data, with post-winter status on all his seedlings, potted plants and in-ground specimens and it was a huge fount of valuable information for all of us growing palms in SoCal in those years. A very nice man. And again, you have to remember that those were the pre-internet days where we had relatively few reference-books, we had to get seed mostly from the IPS seed bank, or maybe buy small palms from Ray Baker at UH Manoa by mail correspondence, or hope that someone brought something you were looking for to a SoCal Palm Society meeting for the auction. Very few "specialty" palm nurseries existed in those days. These photos bring back a lot of nice memories for me of Pauleen, with her cat-eye glasses and jet-black bouffant seemingly made of impermeable steel, in her wheelchair, parked beneath the umbrella at her portable "bookstore" at all those meetings. A sweet lady who was oh-so-generous and filled with determination to do what she loved despite her physical constraints. A real icon and role-model for this society's members.

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bdtaylor

@mnorellThanks for sharing that background, what an awesome history! I knew it had to be some very dedicated collectors

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Palmarum
On 6/25/2022 at 3:48 AM, bdtaylor said:

Guys...has anyone seen the palms around the parking lot at the Ventura College West Entrance? Although they look a bit neglected and underwatered now, they're clearly very old and some are really weird species I've never seen in person before. I'm definitely gonna need help with ID below genus level (and sometimes genus too). ...

6&7) No freakin clue...something very tall and thin the likes of which I've only seen in Hawaii. Some kind of Dypsis right? I'm out of my depth 

 IMG_0654.thumb.JPG.38b9436428133063d1ae6ed0f99c6ab3.JPG

208053282_IMG_0655(1).thumb.JPG.bfeacd882c4618f4cbbe75cf672ecd15.JPG

...

 

This is an extraordinary collection for just an college entrance way. I would hope someone is curtailing some protective element over the palms, they are extremely old. They would be extremely old if grown in Florida or Hawai'i. They look generally healthy, appearing as if they just needed more water. I can't tell what... or if they are getting any irrigation. So many surprises in there. Some of those species I have yet to see in person, let alone specimens of that age and size. Just, wow...

I am glad Michael added the history above. It needs to be kept attached to this collection.

In the two photos I quoted above, that is a super tall solitary Dypsis on the left, maybe what we grew in the early 90's as Dypsis lucubensis, which later turned out to be the solitary D. madagascariensis. It could also be a solitary Cabada Palm, D. cabadae. From the photos, It does resemble a super tall solitary D. pembana. But, from what I know, this specimen greatly predates the time when the earliest D. pembana seed entered cultivation. It was still a while before Pemba Island was fully explored.

What is a bigger surprise is the palm on the right, which resembles a Gaussia! Maybe a Gaussia attenuata. I can tell the palm is lacking a complete crownshaft and it looks like a Gaussia inflorescence poking out towards the left. I cannot guess how old the palm would be. It looks like an ancient specimen one would encounter in habitat.

I also noticed that super tall and thin Coccothrinax (I think what you called a Thrinax) in the second group of photos in the second post. It could be a C. argentea. It has an identical silhouette to the older specimens seen here in collections. Regardless of species, it is a survivor of the ages being that close to the street.

I think I have seen the Jubaeopsis caffra (albeit younger) in Forum posts before, so I think other Forum members in SoCal have been to the site, cameras in hand.

Ryan

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mnorell

Ryan--

Seeing that you are in SoFla, and if you've never been to Ventura or that stretch of coastal SoCal, you have to realize how cool it is there (low 60s is pretty common for a high temp), and how daunting it must have been to try to set out on the plan of growing these exotics in such a chilly setting. It is amazing that these palms grew well in the first place, let alone survived so many years and (especially with those amazing Dypsis) grew so tall. I think maybe those tall ones may be what Jeff Marcus sells today as Dypsis 'Mayotte Island' but who knows...I don't think they are D. madagascariensis because they are not really plumose at all (I think, if memory serves, that D. lucubensis was somewhat plumose as well?). Those golden days of the SoCal Palm Society were something else, and as I mentioned earlier John Tallman worked VERY hard to disseminate his experience with unusual palms, as well as disseminate his seedlings to Palm Society members (and anyone else who he could convince to grow them). It was a different era, before the internet, when personal interaction was the main mode for the exchange of ideas, and he and Pauleen (plus many others!) really made a welcoming environment for anybody who was just wading into the study and growing of unusual palms in SoCal. If they could do it in Ventura, we could certainly do it in L.A.! We had many meetings up there and it was always awe-inspiring to look at Pauleen's house and apartment-buildings, and the landscaping around Ventura College. Somebody must have been maintaining these, even if some of them look a bit straggly after these many, many years. It's very reassuring to me to see these after all this time. I can hardly believe the amazing Ceroxylon in her yard when I see the pictures today.

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Palmarum
14 hours ago, mnorell said:

Ryan--

Seeing that you are in SoFla, and if you've never been to Ventura or that stretch of coastal SoCal, you have to realize how cool it is there (low 60s is pretty common for a high temp), and how daunting it must have been to try to set out on the plan of growing these exotics in such a chilly setting. It is amazing that these palms grew well in the first place, let alone survived so many years and (especially with those amazing Dypsis) grew so tall. ...

The fact the collection is in a cooler climate was not lost on me and was indeed part of my surprise. In person, I would have been floored with shock and awe with many of the tropical and sub-tropical specimens. I can not imagine what the winter lows the collection would have been exposed to. I have yet to visit SoCal, or any part of California for that matter, even though I have a zillion relatives there. If I ever do, the palm world would be a dedicated part of the visit.

I did think of Dypsis sp. 'Mayotte Island' as a strong possibility for that super tall Dypsis, but I was unsure as to how long the palm has been in cultivation. It is also lacking a signature offshoot sucker, although it may have lost it or not have had it to begin with. A closer look may find evidence of it once being there. Another detail in identification, although light, is the rate of growth. My specimen has been very slow growing and I would imagine it would be even slower in SoCal. My plant has about 8 ft. (2.4m) of trunk and has recently matured about two years ago, after being in the ground for 26 years. I only have the one specimen so it's not much data. I could easily have a slow plant. That Dypsis could still very well be D. sp. 'Mayotte Island' as it does bear a rather unique inflorescence and seed so it could be identified by these means.

The history behind the collection is very interesting and important to keep. It reminds me of the collections here that began in the 70's and early 80's (and some even earlier) around institutions like Broward (Community) College, the UF/IFAS extension and many others. Not to mention the golden age of plant societies which we had in abundance. There was a lot of cross-over between school, plant society and city plant sales with many of the same noted and key figures in the palm and plant world. But that is another interesting history for another time.

Ryan

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mnorell
1 hour ago, Palmarum said:

The history behind the collection is very interesting and important to keep. It reminds me of the collections here that began in the 70's and early 80's (and some even earlier) around institutions like Broward (Community) College, the UF/IFAS extension and many others. Not to mention the golden age of plant societies which we had in abundance. There was a lot of cross-over between school, plant society and city plant sales with many of the same noted and key figures in the palm and plant world. But that is another interesting history for another time.

Ryan

I looked back through some of my old SoCal Palm Society journals and found this tribute from the late, great Ralph Velez, in the January 1990 issue:

“IN APPRECIATION OF…
by Ralph Velez

What I occasionally like to do from time to time is give some thanks and recognition to the various members of our chapter that have made a difference to our world of palm appreciation and body of knowledge. If it weren’t for these individuals, I, for one, would not nearly enjoy living here in so Calif. as much as I do. These are people who, I feel are exceptional in their efforts to further the aims and objectives of all of us who have a love of the palms.

John Tallman, of Ventura, Vice Chancellor of the Ventura College District, is one who highly qualifies as a “DOER” of the highest order.

He initiated, at Ventura College, a collection of palms that promises to become one of, if not the premier palm collections in Calif. He has served as an officer of the Southern Calif. Chpt. almost as long as he has been a member, which is close to 15 years. If all goes as planned, John will be the next President of our Chapter when I step down in 1991.

He has provided members of the Chapter a wealth of information on seed germination and cold hardiness, especially invaluable for our new members. His Chapter meetings are always stimulating, educational and especially fun, because we all get a chance to pick up that rare pal we absolutely NEED. I fondly think of John as one of my “MAIN SUPPLIERS” for my palm addiction.

…For those members in the Chpt. that usually do not travel up to Ventura for a Chpt. meeting, you are really missing out on a lot of fun and an opportunity to get that special palm.

Recently, John has formed a Ventura College Foundation Committee to explore ways and means of perpetuating and preserving-expanding the palm collection there when the day comes that he retires from his position as Chancellor of the Ventura College District.

His presence in our Chapter has, and will continue to be, exceptionally profound. THANKS FOR ALL YOU’VE DONE, JOHN.”

And perhaps the collection would be even more astounding than it is today…considering the following debacle occurred in 2006:  Stepping on toes in handing over palms - Los Angeles Times

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Darold Petty

I used to visit Pauleen one-on-one in the 80's and 90's.  She would drive us to lunch in her car, and always grab the check.  With her impish sense of humor she painted the leafbases of Chamaedorea palms with red nail polish.  Her favorite palm was always... "the one I'm looking at now" !  She financed the publication of several palm books.    RIP dear Pauleen.     :winkie:

BDTaylor,  the Jubaeopsis palm at Pauleen's Baylor apartment originally had many more stems.  She removed a few to improve the appearance of the palm.  

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