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MERRITT, Michael - Director


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PalmTalk Username: Mike in Kurtistown

Mike Merritt is the son of a career Air Force officer and spent a childhood moving around a lot. A major early interest was growing plants, and his non-plant family watched in tolerant bewilderment as he planted rows of flowers in various backyards. His adult work was not related to plants, however, and culminated with a 25-year career with the U. S. Geological Survey as a Research Hydrologist working at various locations in Florida.

While in Miami in 1980, a USGS colleague encouraged Mike to join the International Palm Society, and he began buying plants at the palm sales at Fairchild Tropical Garden. After relocating to central Florida in 1995, his interest in palms was greatly enhanced after a friend in the Central Florida Palm and Cycad Society convinced him that he could grow palms from seeds. After several years, his greenhouses were packed with tropical palms that had no hope of surviving planting out in central Florida.

This problem was resolved after he bought eight acres of rocky soils land on the Big Island of Hawaii. His shadehouses are again packed as he gradually clears and plants his new property. While in central Florida, Mike served as Treasurer for the Central Florida Palm and Cycad Society and wrote many articles for the chapter’s journal, The Palmateer. He now serves as Treasurer for the International Palm Society and for the Hawaii Island Palm Society.

Leilani Estates, 25 mls/40 km south of Hilo, Big Island of Hawai'i. Elevation 880 ft/270 m. Average rainfall 140 inches/3550 mm


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