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Mature Sabal Birmingham Palms in Raleigh, NC


MattInRaleigh

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These Sabal Birmingham palms are located in Jaycee Park in Raleigh, NC. I believe these were planted in the 1980's based on this article from Plant Delights.

If you're interested, Gary Hollar shared pictures back in the early 2000's of these palms if you want to compare growth. I don't think these palms are fertilized or maintained.

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Those Birminghams have grown really well since I saw Gary's pictures of those palms . They've trunked up relatively fast from when they were just beginning to trunk . Thanks for sharing . I'm putting a lot of hope in my Birminghams , fearing that crazy cold that might  come down one of these years . Mine have never been protected and are doing great with some damage to the fronds in 3 of the last 10 years when I had single digits  , but I'm very pleased with their hardiness , and 2 of mine are trunking , so onward and upward .

Will

Edited by Will Simpson
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Those vines are bothering me

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YouTube https://www.youtube.com/@tntropics - 60+ In-ground 7A palms - (Sabal) minor(7 large + 27 seedling size, 3 dwarf),  brazoria(1) , birmingham(4), etonia (1) louisiana(5), palmetto (1), riverside (1),  (Trachycarpus) fortunei(7), wagnerianus(1),  Rhapidophyllum hystrix(7),  15' Mule-Butia x Syagrus(1),  Blue Butia capitata(1) +Tons of tropical plants.  Recent Yearly Lows -1F, 12F, 11F, 18F, 16F, 3F, 3F, 6F, 3F, 1F, 16F, 17F, 6F, 8F

 

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Those are nice, I planted my small S. 'Birmingham' from PDN in about 2010, it's just starting to form a trunk. 

Here is the story of Sabal 'Birmingham':

Ray Adams thinks the California story that is spread around is not as likely. The most likely cross Ray thinks is a S. palmetto and S. minor cross. Sabal palms being few and far between now days in California would make one think think Sabal palms were very rare if not absent or almost absent back in the 20s.   The most likely story per Ray's research is Miss Eva Alexander brought the palm back from the Daytona Beach area in Florida in the early to mid twenties. The Palm survived for more than 40 years in Miss Eva Alexanders yard on Graymont Avenue in Birmingham. After her death her house was going to be cleared for a new church, but the palm was saved and was first moved to the Birmingham Botanical Garden in 1976. The original palm died around 1987 or 1988 (after too many re-locations) within the garden. The lowest temperatures the palm ever survived was - 4 degrees in 1966, - 4 again in 1985 and -6 the next day in 1985. I suspect the death was caused by improper transplanting and or care, which greatly reduced the palms ability to survive the non-severe winters and or the hot summers around 1987 or 88 (compared to what it survived in the past). We've all seen how new hurricane cut palmettos are easily killed around 7F or higher. And seed grown palmettos can take quick dips below 0F and survive.  Ray was the first to collect and grow seed from the original Birmingham before it died, then later on seed from the original in the Birmingham Botanical Garden (before it died) was acquired by Woodlanders Nursery to sell, some was sold to the City of Raleigh and this is where the large one in Jaycee Park comes from. 
Ray's living oldest Birmingham palm (the oldest living S. 'Birmingham' which is located in Mt. Olive, AL) was planted around 1974. So that would mean Ray's palm went through a -7F to -8F morning on 1/21/1985, that almost ties John's S. Birmingham Tulsa, OK survival record of -11F with only 20% leaf tip burn. This should likely prove Miss Alexanders palm did not directly die from any freeze, but most likely from from improper transplanting/care, and again high heat/dryness and or non-severe cold may have declined it farther while it was in this weakened poor state. 

 

My Sabal 'Birmingham' has seen single digits (below 5F)  3 times in the past. Last winter it got down to 1F and got about 50% leaf damage, but the center most leaves and spear survived very well.

Did you get to see the Sabal palmetto 'Tifton Hardy' Palms as well? They are planted down by the pond next to a tall needle palm.  I protected my largest  S. palmetto 'Tifton Hardy' Palm last winter since I figure it is about at flowering age, it has a small trunk. But one of my others that is a year or two younger I left to the elements except for a little pine straw at the base, amazingly the exposed center spear leaf, a few petioles, and the base of the leaflets on few fronds survived and stayed green after 1F last winter the older leaves and leaflets got burned off.

 

Edited by palmtreeguy
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BTW,  Some mature Sabal palmetto 'Tifton Hardy' Palms I was talking about were actually located at the state fair grounds Raleigh, but looking at aerial images, it looks like they and many other palms were demolished for new buildings several years ago sadly. 

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7 hours ago, palmtreeguy said:

Those are nice, I planted my small S. 'Birmingham' from PDN in about 2010, it's just starting to form a trunk. 

Here is the story of Sabal 'Birmingham':

Ray Adams thinks the California story that is spread around is not as likely. The most likely cross Ray thinks is a S. palmetto and S. minor cross. Sabal palms being few and far between now days in California would make one think think Sabal palms were very rare if not absent or almost absent back in the 20s.   The most likely story per Ray's research is Miss Eva Alexander brought the palm back from the Daytona Beach area in Florida in the early to mid twenties. The Palm survived for more than 40 years in Miss Eva Alexanders yard on Graymont Avenue in Birmingham. After her death her house was going to be cleared for a new church, but the palm was saved and was first moved to the Birmingham Botanical Garden in 1976. The original palm died around 1987 or 1988 (after too many re-locations) within the garden. The lowest temperatures the palm ever survived was - 4 degrees in 1966, - 4 again in 1985 and -6 the next day in 1985. I suspect the death was caused by improper transplanting and or care, which greatly reduced the palms ability to survive the non-severe winters and or the hot summers around 1987 or 88 (compared to what it survived in the past). We've all seen how new hurricane cut palmettos are easily killed around 7F or higher. And seed grown palmettos can take quick dips below 0F and survive.  Ray was the first to collect and grow seed from the original Birmingham before it died, then later on seed from the original in the Birmingham Botanical Garden (before it died) was acquired by Woodlanders Nursery to sell, some was sold to the City of Raleigh and this is where the large one in Jaycee Park comes from. 
Ray's living oldest Birmingham palm (the oldest living S. 'Birmingham' which is located in Mt. Olive, AL) was planted around 1974. So that would mean Ray's palm went through a -7F to -8F morning on 1/21/1985, that almost ties John's S. Birmingham Tulsa, OK survival record of -11F with only 20% leaf tip burn. This should likely prove Miss Alexanders palm did not directly die from any freeze, but most likely from from improper transplanting/care, and again high heat/dryness and or non-severe cold may have declined it farther while it was in this weakened poor state. 

 

My Sabal 'Birmingham' has seen single digits (below 5F)  3 times in the past. Last winter it got down to 1F and got about 50% leaf damage, but the center most leaves and spear survived very well.

Did you get to see the Sabal palmetto 'Tifton Hardy' Palms as well? They are planted down by the pond next to a tall needle palm.  I protected my largest  S. palmetto 'Tifton Hardy' Palm last winter since I figure it is about at flowering age, it has a small trunk. But one of my others that is a year or two younger I left to the elements except for a little pine straw at the base, amazingly the exposed center spear leaf, a few petioles, and the base of the leaflets on few fronds survived and stayed green after 1F last winter the older leaves and leaflets got burned off.

 

Is there pictures of Ray’s Birmingham? That would be something to see!!! 

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That's more damage than I expect from single digits, if these are a palmetto x minor hybrid. Palmettos here fared pretty well at 5° or 6°. Are there palmettos in Raleigh for comparison?

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14 hours ago, palmtreeguy said:

Those are nice, I planted my small S. 'Birmingham' from PDN in about 2010, it's just starting to form a trunk. 

Here is the story of Sabal 'Birmingham':

Ray Adams thinks the California story that is spread around is not as likely. The most likely cross Ray thinks is a S. palmetto and S. minor cross. Sabal palms being few and far between now days in California would make one think think Sabal palms were very rare if not absent or almost absent back in the 20s.   The most likely story per Ray's research is Miss Eva Alexander brought the palm back from the Daytona Beach area in Florida in the early to mid twenties. The Palm survived for more than 40 years in Miss Eva Alexanders yard on Graymont Avenue in Birmingham. After her death her house was going to be cleared for a new church, but the palm was saved and was first moved to the Birmingham Botanical Garden in 1976. The original palm died around 1987 or 1988 (after too many re-locations) within the garden. The lowest temperatures the palm ever survived was - 4 degrees in 1966, - 4 again in 1985 and -6 the next day in 1985. I suspect the death was caused by improper transplanting and or care, which greatly reduced the palms ability to survive the non-severe winters and or the hot summers around 1987 or 88 (compared to what it survived in the past). We've all seen how new hurricane cut palmettos are easily killed around 7F or higher. And seed grown palmettos can take quick dips below 0F and survive.  Ray was the first to collect and grow seed from the original Birmingham before it died, then later on seed from the original in the Birmingham Botanical Garden (before it died) was acquired by Woodlanders Nursery to sell, some was sold to the City of Raleigh and this is where the large one in Jaycee Park comes from. 
Ray's living oldest Birmingham palm (the oldest living S. 'Birmingham' which is located in Mt. Olive, AL) was planted around 1974. So that would mean Ray's palm went through a -7F to -8F morning on 1/21/1985, that almost ties John's S. Birmingham Tulsa, OK survival record of -11F with only 20% leaf tip burn. This should likely prove Miss Alexanders palm did not directly die from any freeze, but most likely from from improper transplanting/care, and again high heat/dryness and or non-severe cold may have declined it farther while it was in this weakened poor state. 

 

My Sabal 'Birmingham' has seen single digits (below 5F)  3 times in the past. Last winter it got down to 1F and got about 50% leaf damage, but the center most leaves and spear survived very well.

Did you get to see the Sabal palmetto 'Tifton Hardy' Palms as well? They are planted down by the pond next to a tall needle palm.  I protected my largest  S. palmetto 'Tifton Hardy' Palm last winter since I figure it is about at flowering age, it has a small trunk. But one of my others that is a year or two younger I left to the elements except for a little pine straw at the base, amazingly the exposed center spear leaf, a few petioles, and the base of the leaflets on few fronds survived and stayed green after 1F last winter the older leaves and leaflets got burned off.

 

I've heard Sabal Braziorensis is also a hybrid between Sabal Palmetto and Sabal Minor. If that's the case, doesn't that make Birmingham and Braziorensis the same plant? Side note, I have four birminghams in my yard, here in Raleigh, that I grew from seeds collected at Jaycee Park. :) I put them in the ground about four years ago and no damage since. But the last four winters, with exception of the Christmas freeze last year, have been pretty mild. 

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Here is a photo of a renegade triple palmetto planted from a pot about 8 years ago. Today is approx 11 months after that z7b cold on Christmas Eve.

 

IMG_20231120_121744.jpg

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By comparison, all Jelly Palms. (B.odorata) were 100% burned up. Here, we can barely see one with at least 6-ft of trunk trying to recover. Maybe 2-1/2 leaves so far. It's barely visible over the fence from the main road. Lucky indeed. I'll look for another I've see around here.

Edit: That's a palmetto behind it and T.fortunei to the left.

 

IMG_20231120_121218.jpg

Edited by SeanK
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11 hours ago, teddytn said:

Is there pictures of Ray’s Birmingham? That would be something to see!!! 

This is the oldest Sabal  'Birmingham' alive as seen in 2011 at Ray's place.  It was was planted in 1974, I don't know of a newer image.  His grows slower than some of the other (younger) offspring such as the ones in North Carolina. There is wide genetic variation in the offspring.  Some grow more like S. minor in speed and some grow more like S. palmetto, and some are in between. He has one Sabal  'Birmingham' that is almost as old as this one (within a few years to the one seen below) but has no trunk at all.

sabalbirmingham2011.png.ee232c7681f2ee86b2b35935a3e134c6.png

 

Here is the original Sabal  'Birmingham' at the Birmingham Botanical Garden several years after being moved from Miss Eva Alexanders yard:

OrgSabalBirmingham.png.34377b855ec910dbc598255d788ce80d.png

 

10 hours ago, SeanK said:

That's more damage than I expect from single digits, if these are a palmetto x minor hybrid. Palmettos here fared pretty well at 5° or 6°. Are there palmettos in Raleigh for comparison?

This was a north facing windy location with multiple days below freezing.  In a more wind sheltered location it likely would have have done even better.  Also many times there can be high genetic variation in hybrid offspring in both growth rate and cold hardiness.

 

4 hours ago, knikfar said:

I've heard Sabal Braziorensis is also a hybrid between Sabal Palmetto and Sabal Minor. If that's the case, doesn't that make Birmingham and Braziorensis the same plant? Side note, I have four birminghams in my yard, here in Raleigh, that I grew from seeds collected at Jaycee Park. :) I put them in the ground about four years ago and no damage since. But the last four winters, with exception of the Christmas freeze last year, have been pretty mild. 

From what I remember, the research said S. Braziorensis was a hybrid between S. minor and an unknown Sabal.  This could have been a S. palmetto ancestor, or it could have been an extinct trunking Sabal species. 

I do know S. brazoriensis has trunk boots that point straight out.  S. brazoriensis doesn't form the cross boot pattern like S. palmetto and S. 'Birmingham'.

Another small trunking Sabal that has a leaf base pattern like S. brazoriensis is S. louisiana.  They might have the same trunking ancestor. 

Edited by palmtreeguy
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I guess the Canadian grown Birmingham seedling (left) I planted 10 years ago at my old place has a ways to go. S. minor on the right planted about the same time but a much larger start (3 gallon).

 

Lantzville.thumb.jpg.b44a40797b14de752e24ab99c0591c85.jpg

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3 hours ago, SeanK said:

By comparison, all Jelly Palms. (B.odorata) were 100% burned up. Here, we can barely see one with at least 6-ft of trunk trying to recover. Maybe 2-1/2 leaves so far. It's barely visible over the fence from the main road. Lucky indeed. I'll look for another I've see around here.

Edit: That's a palmetto behind it and T.fortunei to the left.

 

IMG_20231120_121218.jpg

I know Atlanta has the urban heat island effect which likely helped those palms though winter relatively speaking.  From what I've read over the years, it seems like most people say S. palmetto starts to get heavy leaf damage below about 7F in the common genetic strain and Butia odorata around 10F. More northern range seed sourced S. palmetto might can take some lower single digits with little to no damage in the same length of freeze.  Of course there are many variables such as freeze duration, wind, snow cover, shelter, heat island effect etc. I would love to try Butia x Jubaea in a protected south facing spot some day, it might be a least similar to a south florida sourced S. palmetto in cold hardiness. 

 

Edited by palmtreeguy
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20 hours ago, palmtreeguy said:

Those are nice, I planted my small S. 'Birmingham' from PDN in about 2010, it's just starting to form a trunk. 

Here is the story of Sabal 'Birmingham':

Ray Adams thinks the California story that is spread around is not as likely. The most likely cross Ray thinks is a S. palmetto and S. minor cross. Sabal palms being few and far between now days in California would make one think think Sabal palms were very rare if not absent or almost absent back in the 20s.   The most likely story per Ray's research is Miss Eva Alexander brought the palm back from the Daytona Beach area in Florida in the early to mid twenties. The Palm survived for more than 40 years in Miss Eva Alexanders yard on Graymont Avenue in Birmingham. After her death her house was going to be cleared for a new church, but the palm was saved and was first moved to the Birmingham Botanical Garden in 1976. The original palm died around 1987 or 1988 (after too many re-locations) within the garden. The lowest temperatures the palm ever survived was - 4 degrees in 1966, - 4 again in 1985 and -6 the next day in 1985. I suspect the death was caused by improper transplanting and or care, which greatly reduced the palms ability to survive the non-severe winters and or the hot summers around 1987 or 88 (compared to what it survived in the past). We've all seen how new hurricane cut palmettos are easily killed around 7F or higher. And seed grown palmettos can take quick dips below 0F and survive.  Ray was the first to collect and grow seed from the original Birmingham before it died, then later on seed from the original in the Birmingham Botanical Garden (before it died) was acquired by Woodlanders Nursery to sell, some was sold to the City of Raleigh and this is where the large one in Jaycee Park comes from. 
Ray's living oldest Birmingham palm (the oldest living S. 'Birmingham' which is located in Mt. Olive, AL) was planted around 1974. So that would mean Ray's palm went through a -7F to -8F morning on 1/21/1985, that almost ties John's S. Birmingham Tulsa, OK survival record of -11F with only 20% leaf tip burn. This should likely prove Miss Alexanders palm did not directly die from any freeze, but most likely from from improper transplanting/care, and again high heat/dryness and or non-severe cold may have declined it farther while it was in this weakened poor state. 

 

My Sabal 'Birmingham' has seen single digits (below 5F)  3 times in the past. Last winter it got down to 1F and got about 50% leaf damage, but the center most leaves and spear survived very well.

Did you get to see the Sabal palmetto 'Tifton Hardy' Palms as well? They are planted down by the pond next to a tall needle palm.  I protected my largest  S. palmetto 'Tifton Hardy' Palm last winter since I figure it is about at flowering age, it has a small trunk. But one of my others that is a year or two younger I left to the elements except for a little pine straw at the base, amazingly the exposed center spear leaf, a few petioles, and the base of the leaflets on few fronds survived and stayed green after 1F last winter the older leaves and leaflets got burned off.

 

@palmtreeguy thanks for sharing that interesting story! Do you recall where the source is for the information? I'd like to learn more about it.

I used to be very interested in the "Tifton Hardy" palmettos as well but I recently asked Juniper Level Botanic Garden/Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh about their hardy palmettos and they said it had died during a cold winter. The only ones that have remained long-term hardy are their "Bald Head Island" and "Mt. Holly" palmettos.

There is a sabal palmetto at JC Raulston Arboretum (NC State in Raleigh) that they planted in 1996 and the director said it came from the NC State Fairgrounds when the owner of Juniper Level Botanic Garden/Plant Delights Nursery was working there. I'll try to get more information on this one to see if it's from the "Tifton Hardy" batch.

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59 minutes ago, MattInRaleigh said:

@palmtreeguy thanks for sharing that interesting story! Do you recall where the source is for the information? I'd like to learn more about it.

I used to be very interested in the "Tifton Hardy" palmettos as well but I recently asked Juniper Level Botanic Garden/Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh about their hardy palmettos and they said it had died during a cold winter. The only ones that have remained long-term hardy are their "Bald Head Island" and "Mt. Holly" palmettos.

There is a sabal palmetto at JC Raulston Arboretum (NC State in Raleigh) that they planted in 1996 and the director said it came from the NC State Fairgrounds when the owner of Juniper Level Botanic Garden/Plant Delights Nursery was working there. I'll try to get more information on this one to see if it's from the "Tifton Hardy" batch.

I got most of that S. 'Birmingham' info straight from Ray, he would post some on several forums years ago and I would chat a little with him.

Here are the 'Tifton Hardy'  palmettos (photos by Randy UT) after he visited Raleigh State Fairgrounds in 2011. They looked really good after some fairly cold winters. You can see the old bridge that is no longer there. That area was cleared and filled in, and some new structures were built around 2016.  7F was the low in Raleigh in 2014 and 2015, that should not have bothered them one bit.  I wonder if that PDN worker you emailed assumed they died from a cold winter hearing that they were dead, but the real story is they were killed by a bulldozer around 2016 along with a huge needle palm, pine trees etc.  Raleigh State Fairgrounds maybe where PDN got their 'Tifton Hardy' seed from since the palm by the pine is the same one PDN used on their website for 'Tifton Hardy' . 

tifton1.png.c80f114cab860c1cfe7d0ef663a250bb.png

 

tifton2.thumb.png.a2f8cdef472efc1b48ae63796333358a.png

 

 

Edited by palmtreeguy
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23 hours ago, Allen said:

Those vines are bothering me

Looks like Hedera helix?  nice looking vine IMO but aggressively invasive.

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1 hour ago, palmtreeguy said:

I got most of that S. 'Birmingham' info straight from Ray, he would post some on several forums years ago and I would chat a little with him.

Here are the 'Tifton Hardy'  palmettos (photos by Randy UT) after he visited Raleigh State Fairgrounds in 2011. They looked really good after some fairly cold winters. You can see the old bridge that is no longer there. That area was cleared and filled in, and some new structures were built around 2016.  7F was the low in Raleigh in 2014 and 2015, that should not have bothered them one bit.  I wonder if that PDN worker you emailed assumed they died from a cold winter hearing that they were dead, but the real story is they were killed by a bulldozer around 2016 along with a huge needle palm, pine trees etc.  Raleigh State Fairgrounds maybe where PDN got their 'Tifton Hardy' seed from since the palm by the pine is the same one PDN used on their website for 'Tifton Hardy' . 

tifton1.png.c80f114cab860c1cfe7d0ef663a250bb.png

 

tifton2.thumb.png.a2f8cdef472efc1b48ae63796333358a.png

 

 

Thanks for sharing those pics! That’s unfortunate they aren’t there anymore. 
 

I assumed that Plant Delights planted every species/cultivar they sold at the Juniper Level Botanic Garden. Next time I visit, I’ll see how that matches up for their sabals.

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I would tear that Ivy down if I were them.  No sense in allowing that to threaten such an old slow-growing palm.  Sabal Birmingham are incredible palms. I've got one at my Albuquerque house that has been in the ground since the early 2010's?  It is as slow as a snail, if not slower! It's grown maybe 2-3 fronds per season at the most and has never shown cold damage in a desert zone 7b, lowest temp about 5-7F since its planting. Sub-freezing days also have not disturbed it. The coldest days in New Mexico are often quite sunny so that aids in giving palms a break from the frigidness.

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