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Incredible specimen palms at Ventura College


bdtaylor
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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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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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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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Michael Norell

Rancho Mirage, California | 33°44' N 116°25' W | 293 ft | z10a | avg Jan 42/70F | Jul 78/108F avg | Weather Station KCARANCH310

previously Big Pine Key, Florida | 24°40' N 81°21' W | 4.5 ft. | z12a | Calcareous substrate | avg annual min. approx 52F | avg Jan 65/75F | Jul 83/90 | extreme min approx 41F

previously Natchez, Mississippi | 31°33' N 91°24' W | 220 ft.| z9a | Downtown/river-adjacent | Loess substrate | avg annual min. 23F | Jan 43/61F | Jul 73/93F | extreme min 2.5F (1899)

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

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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 

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...

 

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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South Florida

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  • 2 weeks later...

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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Michael Norell

Rancho Mirage, California | 33°44' N 116°25' W | 293 ft | z10a | avg Jan 42/70F | Jul 78/108F avg | Weather Station KCARANCH310

previously Big Pine Key, Florida | 24°40' N 81°21' W | 4.5 ft. | z12a | Calcareous substrate | avg annual min. approx 52F | avg Jan 65/75F | Jul 83/90 | extreme min approx 41F

previously Natchez, Mississippi | 31°33' N 91°24' W | 220 ft.| z9a | Downtown/river-adjacent | Loess substrate | avg annual min. 23F | Jan 43/61F | Jul 73/93F | extreme min 2.5F (1899)

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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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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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Michael Norell

Rancho Mirage, California | 33°44' N 116°25' W | 293 ft | z10a | avg Jan 42/70F | Jul 78/108F avg | Weather Station KCARANCH310

previously Big Pine Key, Florida | 24°40' N 81°21' W | 4.5 ft. | z12a | Calcareous substrate | avg annual min. approx 52F | avg Jan 65/75F | Jul 83/90 | extreme min approx 41F

previously Natchez, Mississippi | 31°33' N 91°24' W | 220 ft.| z9a | Downtown/river-adjacent | Loess substrate | avg annual min. 23F | Jan 43/61F | Jul 73/93F | extreme min 2.5F (1899)

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  • 4 weeks later...

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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San Francisco, California

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 8/2/2022 at 8:53 PM, Darold Petty said:

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.  

thanks for enlightening us Darold.  I wish I was around for these trips but then you would have had to babysit me on my tricycle in the early 80s lol 

Sorry not a dig but rather extremely jealous. 😉

 

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"delectare et movere"

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I can't read the LA Times article, it wants me to subscribe.  :(

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Here's a link to a thread when @Palmgrover and I stopped in Ventura on the way back from Lotus land... 15 years ago!! Apparently right after the palm swap/removal debacle in 2006.

https://www.lotustalk.com/threads/2005-elise-w-extras-clam-shocks-wheels.534932/#post-6198385

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Zone 10a at best after 2007 AND 2013, on SW facing hill, 1 1/2 miles from coast in Oceanside, CA. 30-98 degrees, and 45-80deg. about 95% of the time.

"The great workman of nature is time."

"Genius is nothing but a great aptitude for patience."

-George-Louis Leclerc de Buffon-

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13 hours ago, Darold Petty said:

I can't read the LA Times article, it wants me to subscribe.  :(

here you go darold .. just a note, there were no pictures in the article:

 

Stepping on toes in handing over palms

BY GREGORY W. GRIGGS
NOV. 25, 2006 12 AM PT
TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ventura College instructor Jim Downer noticed something unusual when workers pruned and inspected palms on campus just after the start of the school year.

“It struck me as odd,” said Downer, a University of California extension plant pathologist who has taught at the college for 20 years. “They just don’t keep up with tree trimming here.”

A few days later, his worst fears were realized. He saw giant palm trees removed, swung by a crane onto a flatbed truck and wrapped for shipment to destinations unknown.

But these weren’t ordinary palm trees. Horticulture experts say some of the plants, including Mediterranean fan palms and Chilean wine palms, are worth up to $25,000 apiece and are often used for oasis-style landscaping in Las Vegas and Phoenix.

Now, tree lovers are coming out of the woodwork because they suspect something shady. They say Ventura College administrators have not given a full explanation about why the trees were removed instead of replanted, who removed them and what became of them. Critics, including some scientists, say that at a minimum, horticulturists should have been consulted before the college acted.

Those are some really rare trees. That’s a lot of money going out the door,” Downer said. “I suspect the college didn’t know what the value of those trees was.”

Further, critics charge that some of the palms were planted decades ago as part of a widely recognized botanical collection honoring the late John Tallman, a college administrator who ended his career as a member of the Ventura County Community College District Board of Trustees. Instructors say that they used the trees as part of their curriculum, assigning students to study them.

“The public has lost a valuable asset at the college,” Donald Hodel, environmental horticulturist for the UC extension program and a member of the International Palm Society, said in a Nov. 2 e-mail. He described the palm removal as “an inappropriate disposal of college property.”

Ventura College trustees received an oral report about the landscaping changes during a public meeting last month and supported the plan.

Officials said the palms were removed as part of a landscaping project for a $10.5-million renovation of the school’s sports complex.

College President Robin Calote said some palms were traded, with new ones planted for the old ones that were uprooted. She does not know if there was an attempt to compare the value of the new trees with the ones that were removed.

“It’s a valid concern,” said Calote, who was out of the country when the decision was made. “The people involved were well intentioned.”

She said some trees were abandoned potted palms that could not be sold and were planted along a fence so they wouldn’t die. Others were mislabeled, not of sufficient pedigree or had grown too tall to be marketable.

“There are trees all over this campus planted by John Tallman,” Calote said. “There is nothing unique about this row, as compared to the ones we have all over.”

Bob Forest, director of campus maintenance and operations, maintains the campus grounds and has worked at Ventura College for 32 years.

He said he merely switched out trees as part of the sports complex project. “I have not shopped prices, I just wanted to swap trees,” Forest said. “It’s just a brokered deal to get the landscaping done.... There’s nothing nefarious or evil.”

At issue are 20 palms that were removed beginning in September.

They were uprooted from near a baseball field at the northwest corner of the 112-acre campus. Among the trees were eight Chilean wine palms, which take about 50 years to mature and are worth up to $25,000 each.

As replacements, the college plans to plant 29 palms, more uniform in size, to complement landscaping at the sports center. The new trees will include the same number of Chilean wine palms, according to an official.

Forest says he made a good deal, adding that he received quotes that it would cost at least $70,000 to purchase eight mature Canary Island date palms included among the 29 trees being acquired.

The college paid no money for the trees it received, he said, and the deal includes the cost of labor to transport, prune and replant some of the trees.

But critics are upset that the college didn’t assess or disclose the value of the plants before they were removed.

“They should have had an inventory of these palms, their size, their general health and estimated value. It’s at least negligence not to do that. They’re trading away government property, and there’s no assessed value,” Hodel said. “Who knows? They may have been worth twice what the college thought they were. It seems to me to be a rather shoddy way to operate.”

Calote said the college is discussing the possibility of designating the campus as an official botanical garden or arboretum, a concept included in the master plan for the campus as far back as the 1950s.

greg.griggs@latimes.com

*

Times staff writer Gary Polakovic contributed to this report.

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i stop by this area in Ventura college at least once a month coming back from taking my family to ventura beach.  its very sad and after learning the history its even more sad to know its just a  remnant of all the love and devotion that was put into it.  

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"delectare et movere"

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