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Best Palm to Grow Epiphytically?


epiphyte

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The other day I had the opportunity to visit the garden of a guy who has a very nice collection of Chamaedoreas. Some of them had stubby air roots that reminded me of bird's nest Anthuriums. That kind of got me thinking about which palm species might be the best suited for growing epiphytically.

Can anybody suggest any palms that I might try growing on my tree? My goal for the tree is to exhibit the widest possible range of plant diversity.

7581472984_03952c2e89.jpg

Sinningia cardinalis Growing Epiphytically by epiphyte78, on Flickr

One important factor is drought tolerance. During summer I try and water the tree every other night via drip system. But when the temps are in the upper 90s I try and water it every night. Most of the tree goes completely dry between waterings...but if something wants more moisture than I include New Zealand Sphagnum when I attach it to the tree.

Edited by epiphyte
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Interesting experiment you've got going there.

Strange as it sounds, I'd give Howea forsteriana a try. If kept in the shade, they are incredibly drought tolerant. I just pulled up a small 1 gallon Howea that I had haphazardly planted in an area with no irrigation, but was still shaded and had mulch. When I pulled it out, the soil was bone dry and the palm still had been growing new roots and had continued to grow leaves. Shoot, maybe I'll give that a try with the one I just pulled out! It's just sitting on my shelf in the workroom with no soil waiting to die or waiting to be attached to a tree, I guess.

I bet Coccothrinax would be a good choice as well. Their drought tolerance, small stature, and agressive, small diameter roots will attach to the bark well.

Matt Bradford

"Manambe Lavaka"

Spring Valley, CA (8.5 miles inland from San Diego Bay)

10B on the hill (635 ft. elevation)

9B in the canyon (520 ft. elevation)

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ive seen washys groing in the V of trees at golf courses around san diego. i think that shows that it might be possible.

"it's not dead it's sleeping"

Santee ca, zone10a/9b

18 miles from the ocean

avg. winter 68/40.avg summer 88/64.records 113/25

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Chamaedorea adscendens? Small, and I believe Hodel mentions in his book that it is quite drought tolerant and was often found in the wild looking good while other plants in the area were wilting from lack of water.

Tom

Bowie, Maryland, USA - USDA z7a
hardiestpalms.com

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This is pretty interesting, would like to see what you come up with…

…but a few points. There is a difference between growing a palm in a tree, and growing a palm epiphytically….I wouldn’t bet against it on the first, but the second is not likely.

Picking a palm for it’s drought tolerance makes sense, since epiphytes have about the same moisture concerns as xeric plants……one is moisture conservation, which some palms can do, although exposed roots may be a liability…… and the second is moisture storage, which I don’t think a palm can do…outside of growing in soil at any rate..

The other impediment is the palm’s roots……..will they be able to absorb water in an aerial environment? Many epiphytes have the roots covered in a water absorptive sheath, where the palm will only have the area surrounding the apical meristem to do this…

But who knows, it might look cool…..looking forward to pics when you get to that point.

Rusty

Rusty Bell

Pine Island - the Ex-Pat part of Lee County, Fl , USA

Zone 10b, life in the subs!...except when it isn't....

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Calamus ?

Happy Gardening

Cheers,

Wal

Queensland, Australia.

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A vining palm seems likelier than an epiphytic one. There must be one or two epiphytic palms in nature, but I can't think of any....though there is an epiphytic cycad, a Panamanian Zamia that's too tropical to grow outdoors in the US, apart from Hawaii.

Fla. climate center: 100-119 days>85 F
USDA 1990 hardiness zone 9B
Current USDA hardiness zone 10a
4 km inland from Indian River; 27º N (equivalent to Brisbane)

Central Orlando's urban heat island may be warmer than us

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I'm with Wal and Dave. One of the hardier rattans growing as a vine up the tree might be worth a try.

Jason

Skell's Bells

 

 

Inland Central Florida, 28N, 81W. Humid-subtropical climate with occasional frosts and freezes. Zone 9b.

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In Florida, I have seen each of the native Sabal species growing as (I believe temporary) epiphytes, particularly in the low crotches of oak trees in forested areas. I have also rarely seen queen palm and phoenix volunteers growing in a similar situation. In South Florida, I have seen small Sabals growing low in banyan trees as well. I feel that these situations are temporary for the palm in question, as they are kept stunted and likely fade away as the root systems and the rest get too large for the tree to accommodate. This certainly qualifies as epiphytism, though unlike in most cases, the situation can not support the full life cycle of the epiphyte in question.

I am sure native palm species in (wetter) areas worldwide occur as transient epiphytes here and there.

For Southern California, I would try a small Sabal or Phoenix in the crotch of a tree with some organic matter added for substrate and at least a bit of irrigation. Even better, certain Chamaedorea or other very small palm species that stay small and are given substrate and water may be able to grow to maturity as an epiphyte in a tree.

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Plectocomia himalayana grows really well here.

Matt Bradford

"Manambe Lavaka"

Spring Valley, CA (8.5 miles inland from San Diego Bay)

10B on the hill (635 ft. elevation)

9B in the canyon (520 ft. elevation)

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Thanks everybody for the thoughts and suggestions. I don't have very many palms...but I do have three Chamaedorea elegans. So today I attached one to my tree. Hah. That will show it.

When I took it out of the one gallon pot...I discovered that it has something in common with orchids...slugs like to eat the new roots. I attached the palm to the shady side of the tree in a "pocket" of coco fiber stuffed with New Zealand Sphagnum. To keep it company I included Impatiens bicaudata and Impatiens paucidentata in the pocket.

The Chamaedorea will certainly get more water on the tree than it has been getting in its pot. But the drainage on the tree will be a lot better...but the moss retains more moisture than the potting medium. So not sure if it evens out.

It does look neat on the tree though! Then again, from my perspective even a pregnant onion looks neat on a tree.

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Raphia farinifera seeds sprouted up in this Metroxolyn post-354-0-70657800-1344336564_thumb.jpg

Michael in palm paradise,

Tully, wet tropics in Australia, over 4 meters of rain every year.

Home of the Golden Gumboot, its over 8m high , our record annual rainfall.

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I saw the opposite the other day, an umbrella tree (Schefflera actinophylla) growing out of the crown about 5m up a CIDP.

For climbing and vines, Calamus species have already been mentioned, but there is also Dypsis serpentina. I am not certain how well it handles cold, though, but my seedlings are still going strong with lows of 3.5C under canopy.

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Coprosma repens is often a volunteer epiphyte upon Phoenix canariensis in the more foggy areas of SF. The plain green form is not that attractive, but there are named cultivars with colorful foliage.

San Francisco, California

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  • 2 weeks later...

I would imagine anything naturally stilt rooted would do alright. I am talking about non-climbers, stuff like Chams should work, so should weedy palms, but I doubt anything with a decent trunk would look nice.

Christian Faulkner

Venice, Florida - South Sarasota County.

www.faulknerspalms.com

 

Μολὼν λάβε

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Chameadorea elatior the only climbing Chameadorea .

Old Beach ,Hobart
Tasmania ,Australia. 42 " south
Cool Maritime climate

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Considering the large number of palms that exist, it's funny that there isn't a single true epiphyte amogst them.

www.sheoakridge.com
Our private nature reserve in Far North Queensland, Australia.
Too much rain in the Wet season and not enough in the Dry. At least we never get frost.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Bump this post to show this Phoenix canariensis growing in a lemon tree, this tree is in the B.G. of Málaga, I know this since was a little palm, but I am surprised that there still. I suppose that the roots have crossed the trunk:

post-3315-0-93336100-1347135252_thumb.jp

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  • 10 years later...

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