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Serenoa repens 'Georgia Silver', Revisited


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Many of you have heard of this mythical palm somewhere in Georgia, but few know the real story or what it actually looks like.  A fellow PT'er knew of them, and provided a large quantity of seeds to a nurseryman in GA, who in turn sold them to RPS.  RPS gave them the moniker 'Georgia Silver', and seeds were distributed.  Here is the description on their website:

"This really special and exciting form of this popular American palm comes from a relict population in central Georgia. These palms are wild, occurring on isolated sand dunes where ancient beaches used to be near the "fall line." The Silver Saw Palmetto is a full-sized, glaucous plant that is rarely available as it only sets fruit heavily following warm winters. This population is the most northerly, most inland ever found, and extremely cold hardy. A unique opportunity not to be missed!"

All of this is accurate, but the only thing that I would add is that the palms themselves aren't as silver as you would find on the east coast of FL.  Glaucous, yes...not exactly silver, however.  I'm not sure where the picture on the website came from, but it's not representative of the actual color of the palms there.  They are definitely different from the green form, however!  The other part of the description that I would change is regarding their size.  These palms appear to be genetic dwarfs.  There is a post somewhere here on PalmTalk that shows a maybe 11 year old palm, still with strap leaves.  I can't locate the post, but I managed to save the pictures on my phone.  I won't re-post them here, because they aren't my pictures.  Maybe the original poster will see this and share the pictures.  I collected seeds in 2019 and sowed a few.  They are probably the slowest-growing palms that I have ever grown, with just a few strap leaves after almost 3 years (there are only 3 growing in a decent-sized community pot.   They definitely don't have seeds every year either.  Sometimes only once every 2-3 years or more.  Some of these pictures I got down close to ground level to take.  There are some larger, greener Serenoa in the woods, so I suppose it's a possibility that the dwarfism is caused by environmental conditions and the deep sand, but that wouldn't explain why the seedlings are so painfully slow.  I believe that they are genetic dwarfs, and that the larger Serenoa growing in the woods are the plain green form and different. 

These are also the northernmost, inland population of Serenoa known in their native range, so they should have an extra degree or two of cold-hardiness.  In habitat, these very palms have been through 0F.  Many, many years ago, another enthusiast managed to transplant a few of them and in 1996, they reportedly sailed through 9F with no problems.  The day after Christmas of this past year, this area went down to 15F.  I personally have no real experience with their ultimate cold-hardiness only to say that they can take 20F here in Gainesville in a pot with no issues, LOL. 

There are also some other, quite interesting plants of note in this area, which has very deep sand dunes in places.  It's a hot, dry environment, seemingly inhospitable.  A very far inland population of Quercus geminata lives here, perhaps the northernmost, inland population for this species as well.  There is also an Opuntia species here that is glacially slow growing.  I got two pads in 2019 and put them together in a pot.  One has grown one pad in three years, the other has grown two pads.  Sandhill Rosemary and other scrub vegetation can be found here as well. 

So there you have it.  Still a mysterious little palm.  The jury's still out as to whether they are dwarfs because of environmental conditions (that sand is deep and has almost zero nutrients) or genetics.  Seedlings are among the slowest-growing palms on earth, seemingly, even with good soil and irrigation and nutrients.

These seedlings are almost three years old.  They are irrigated, but admittedly, I haven't fertilized them very often.  Maybe only once or twice total. 


The glacially-slow Opuntia I referenced.



GA Silver16.jpg

GA Silver2.jpg

GA Silver3.jpg

A very rare sight!

GA Silver4.JPG

GA Silver9.jpg

GA Silver6.jpg

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