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How much does a palm weigh?


BeyondTheGarden

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This is a broad question but I wanted to assemble a kind of database for any and all types of palms. 

"It depends" is not a helpful answer, everyone knows that there are dozens of variables. Crown size, root ball size, hydration, trunk diameter etc. 

I have read that Sabal palmettos weigh around 100 pounds per foot of trunk.  That's super generalized and seems to be what most landscape companies use. 

Does anyone know a weight for a trachycarpus, per linear ft of trunk? 

I am hoping to go dig one up (trachy) that has around 10 ft of trunk. If it also weighs 100 pounds per LF of trunk (it should be lighter I think since the trunk is maybe 1/3 the diameter of a palmetto) am thinking I could dig a trench around it, use a come-along to tip it sideways,  then lift it with a 2 ton engine hoist (cherry picker) and back my 3/4ton truck up under the root ball.  

But that just sounds too easy.  

I know at least a couple folks here have transplanted mature palms/trachycarpus before.  Advice is welcomed. 

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Generally, I estimate the trunk volume in cubic feet and assume 100% water, so 62.5 lbs. 

Specifically, you have to consider how much trunk diameter is solid and not lightweight fibres. As for the crown, would it be full, reduced, or hurricane cut.

I know that guys in the PNW and Vancouver regularly move Trachies; hopefully someone will share actual experience.

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@BeyondTheGarden trachies are light, all the weight is going to be in the root ball and how much soil stays with it. I've moved quite a few without equipment and either 1 or 2 additional hands. That said tho i would def opt for mechanical help if it's available

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You aren't going to get an exact estimate because IT ALL DEPENDS ON many things ( density,  diameter ,water , fronds etc) 🤷.  

You're better off calling a nursery that delivers and installs palms they might give you a better estimate.  

 

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 I am sure you can do it yourself with lots of planning and being careful. I have done it by myself.  Its going to be unwieldy and heavy enough to possibly hurt your back and have to spend money on a doctor.  You might consider rental of a small tractor, with front end loader or price a nursery moving it.  In any case protect the trunk from all bruising, with padding, while it rests on whatever it will set on.  Same goes for where you tie the ropes to pull, lift, or tie down.  It would always be better to lift or pull the root ball itself, than to lift or pull by the trunk.  Straps will work way better than ropes. North Carolina requires a red flag to be attached to the overhanging end, if it sticks out too far on your truck. They hardly ever enforce it but the red flags and string to tie up the fronds are free at any Lowes Home Improvement as you go out the door. 

Don't know how to tell you the weight of other palms except to say a Sable palmetto with any trunk is too heavy to move without power equipment.

 

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My Livistona chinensis has gained so much weight that it's too large to fit on the bathroom scale.  It's now on a diet!  😂IMG_20230103_163154.thumb.jpg.d14f6cf1e2c2a23fdf5623455f88bef2.jpg

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Jon Sunder

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8 hours ago, DAVEinMB said:

@BeyondTheGarden trachies are light, all the weight is going to be in the root ball and how much soil stays with it. I've moved quite a few without equipment and either 1 or 2 additional hands. That said tho i would def opt for mechanical help if it's available

I once moved one with 4 feet of trunk; ughhhh! 10 feet of trunk will be damn heavy unless it's Cyrtostachys.

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9 hours ago, SeanK said:

Generally, I estimate the trunk volume in cubic feet and assume 100% water, so 62.5 lbs. 

Specifically, you have to consider how much trunk diameter is solid and not lightweight fibres. As for the crown, would it be full, reduced, or hurricane cut.

I know that guys in the PNW and Vancouver regularly move Trachies; hopefully someone will share actual experience.

That's probably the best answer I've seen.  The heaviest wet hardwood I can find is mid 60's per CF.  So if you had a trachy with a trunk that was 8" diameter, and 10' tall, the trunk would weigh in the neighborhood of 220.  Although that's probably on the high side.  

 

7 hours ago, DAVEinMB said:

@BeyondTheGarden trachies are light, all the weight is going to be in the root ball and how much soil stays with it. I've moved quite a few without equipment and either 1 or 2 additional hands. That said tho i would def opt for mechanical help if it's available

And I'd guess the root ball; if it's 3' across and 2' deep, based on the weight of wet clay, could weigh 1600 lbs.  That should be on the heavy side since that's assuming that 100% of the rootball is waterlogged clay, and not actual root material. 

Plus the 220 of the trunk = 1820 lbs.  Plus another couple hundred pounds of fronds, and a 10' trachy probably should weight 1 ton, maximum.  I expect it to not be that heavy in reality since most of the Trachy's here on the east coast look puny compared to the fatties in the PNW.  But the soil is much heavier here.  

Here's the Trachy, it's a couple hours from here.   10' of trunk is a rough guess. 

image.png.cc9c53c77bd41be36322d8590f52efc8.png

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5 hours ago, BeyondTheGarden said:

That's probably the best answer I've seen.  The heaviest wet hardwood I can find is mid 60's per CF.  So if you had a trachy with a trunk that was 8" diameter, and 10' tall, the trunk would weigh in the neighborhood of 220.  Although that's probably on the high side.  

 

And I'd guess the root ball; if it's 3' across and 2' deep, based on the weight of wet clay, could weigh 1600 lbs.  That should be on the heavy side since that's assuming that 100% of the rootball is waterlogged clay, and not actual root material. 

Plus the 220 of the trunk = 1820 lbs.  Plus another couple hundred pounds of fronds, and a 10' trachy probably should weight 1 ton, maximum.  I expect it to not be that heavy in reality since most of the Trachy's here on the east coast look puny compared to the fatties in the PNW.  But the soil is much heavier here.  

Here's the Trachy, it's a couple hours from here.   10' of trunk is a rough guess. 

image.png.cc9c53c77bd41be36322d8590f52efc8.png

There's no way in hell that thing ways a ton, even with the root ball. If you were trying to move a sabal that size I'd tell your nuts good luck but with a trachy come lightly equipped, expect a bit of a battle and get er done

 

**here's the edit -- it's gonna be heavy, it's not gonna be fun. But go fight the tree, I've been there. Can it be done without equipment... yea. Would I recommend it... no. 

Edited by DAVEinMB
Sensible advice
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As expected it took longer than expected.  And instead of 10', the trunk was 14 foot.  And nowhere rents one-way utility trailers.  So I ended up with a trailer and a 2 hour delay. 

Trunk is 8" wide. I'll do the math tomorrow on hiw much it may weigh. Need to get some Taco Bell and got a 2 hour drive home. 

20231208_202241.jpg

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That is a SCORE! Beautiful. Goodluck with recovery efforts! Hopefully it doesnt experience transplant shock too bad.

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Palms - 4 S. romanzoffiana, 1 W. bifurcata, 4 W. robusta, 1 R. rivularis, 1 B. odorata, 1 B. nobilis, 4 S. palmetto, 1 A. merillii, 2 P. canariensis, 1 BxJ, 1 BxJxBxS, 1 BxS, 3 P. roebelenii, 1 H. lagenicaulis, 1 H. verschaffeltii, 9 T. fortunei, 1 C. humilis, 2 C. macrocarpa, 1 L. chinensis, 1 R. excelsa, 1 S. bermudana, 1 L. nitida

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2 hours ago, BeyondTheGarden said:

Trunk is 8" wide. I'll do the math tomorrow on hiw much it may weigh. Need to get some Taco Bell and got a 2 hour drive home. 

 

Time to see if the Power Bowl® really lives up to it's name. 

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18 minutes ago, JohnAndSancho said:

Time to see if the Power Bowl® really lives up to it's name. 

Didn't your signature used to way whataburger?  Today I drove past a mom-and-pop looking "What a burger #13", up in central NC somewhere.  I've only seen the actual chain out west.  And yeah the power bowl would be healthier, but the grilled cheese burrito with jalapenos is my go-to. 

3 hours ago, JLM said:

That is a SCORE! Beautiful. Goodluck with recovery efforts! Hopefully it doesnt experience transplant shock too bad.

It is a score but I am sure it will suffer transplant shock (and attrition/fatality is part of everything in life, could always lose it).  It's been there a long time and I ended up having to reduce the root ball more than I wanted.  Clay is so heavy.  But, after I got the rootball loose enough to lay the palm down horizontally, that 2 ton engine hoist worked like a champ!  I don't know what i would have done without it.  I took a little video but once I got to the part where I was tinkering with positioning it on the trailer, I was too focused and beat-down to think about videoing all the process like I had wanted. 

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That is one big root ball. I think I pulled by back just looking at the pic of it on the trailer. You the man!

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On 12/6/2023 at 2:23 PM, Fusca said:

My Livistona chinensis has gained so much weight that it's too large to fit on the bathroom scale.  It's now on a diet!  😂IMG_20230103_163154.thumb.jpg.d14f6cf1e2c2a23fdf5623455f88bef2.jpg

is that thing in a pot?

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Super impressive score! Oh the things we do for palms lol. I actually remember seeing this one on FB marketplace and contemplating it myself. Good luck with it and keep us posted on it’s progress and definitely try to plant it today since tomorrow will be a wash out. 

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What an accomplishment great job. Hope for a speedy recovery.  

I said that before but planting palms are a commitment for life. They look so small at the beginning but end up growing large where relocating them is very hard work and in some cases costly.  

My palms are a still small but my Queens are going to be replaced by Mules one by one starting next year in February .  I can only imagine the headache to dig them out in 10 or 20 years after a freeze takes them out. 

 

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12 hours ago, BeyondTheGarden said:

Didn't your signature used to way whataburger?  Today I drove past a mom-and-pop looking "What a burger #13", up in central NC somewhere.  I've only seen the actual chain out west.  And yeah the power bowl would be healthier, but the grilled cheese burrito with jalapenos is my go-to. 

Yep! A few months ago, I left Texas and moved in with my family in East Mississippi. Still in culture shock. I miss Whataburger... And HEB. And all my favorite taco shops. And the Taco Bell Quesarito, which was very uncoolly taken from us. 

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14 hours ago, BeyondTheGarden said:

is that thing in a pot?

It probably was in 2006.  :)  But it is cold hardy.

Nice work with the dig - hope you can get it going.  Tricky time of the year since it'll need a lot of water to stay alive but won't have warm soil for a while to get the roots going.  I once dug a similar sized Washingtonia but I picked a horrible year (2011) to do it.  The record-breaking drought and heat did it in.  I wish you success!

Jon Sunder

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I calculated the palm at roughly 1500 pounds. 

For the trunk,  I used 65 lbs/cf and it comes out to 320 pounds or so which is surprisingly light in my opinion. 

For the rootball, I used numbers for clay (100 lb/cf) and used a sphere formula, since that's probably the closest shape.  It calc'ed at 1100 pounds.  

I weighed a frond, they don't even weigh a pound a piece so even with 30-40 fronds it's still pretty negligible.  I removed 13 or 14 of the lowest fronds. 

Amended the soil heavily with mushroom compost and wood mulch.  I figured the freshly amended floor of the hole would "squish" once I dropped the 1500 pound palm onto it so I set it up for the base of the trunk to be 2" above grade.   However I should have planned on 5" of squish.  This palm despite its height is a "lowrider".  Luckily it's a Trachycarpus so I'm not concerned.  If it were a desert palm I'd be in trouble.  

 

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Enlisted the service of an LED grow light for the infamous "night shot". 

The trunk fiber was already messed up when I got there and I didn't do it any favors. I may end up skinning it, if and when it recovers. 

This thing is so stinking tall.  Radical. 

20231209_185349.jpg

20231209_185418.jpg

20231209_185453.jpg

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Too bad you couldn't access a truck scale at a weigh station, before and after to get the weight. Nice palm for sure. I passed thru a beach community on the weekend with some really fat trunk Windmill palms. Sadly, I missed my chance at some pics. I wasn't driving and in control of the events. 

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38 minutes ago, Las Palmas Norte said:

Too bad you couldn't access a truck scale at a weigh station, before and after to get the weight. Nice palm for sure. I passed thru a beach community on the weekend with some really fat trunk Windmill palms. Sadly, I missed my chance at some pics. I wasn't driving and in control of the events. 

I mean I could have gone to a scale but frankly I don't care that much.  Give me the nearest 500 pounds, plus or minus, and I can figure out what tools and resources I need.  I think i'm in the ballpark here.  Over a thousand, less than a ton.  So hydraulic jacks and a one ton trailer, and a bit of limping and griping, and I'll get it figured out.  Lord willing.  

You PNW guys have it so good, with respect to Trachycarpus.  Trachycarpus love growing in the PNW.  So many of them out here on the east coast look like complete garbage.  I'm hoping that, assuming mine transplants OK, my soil amendments both now and soon to come, will be enough to offset the wiles of nature. Or rather the limitations of nature. 

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Well my back was just beginning to feel better from seeing the earlier pics of it on the trailer.  Now that I have seen the pics of the trunk against the shed siding I can see it's larger in diameter than I thought and I think I threw my back out again. You did an amazing job moving that.

Edited by Jeff zone 8 N.C.
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48 minutes ago, BeyondTheGarden said:

I mean I could have gone to a scale but frankly I don't care that much.  Give me the nearest 500 pounds, plus or minus, and I can figure out what tools and resources I need.  I think i'm in the ballpark here.  Over a thousand, less than a ton.  So hydraulic jacks and a one ton trailer, and a bit of limping and griping, and I'll get it figured out.  Lord willing.  

You PNW guys have it so good, with respect to Trachycarpus.  Trachycarpus love growing in the PNW.  So many of them out here on the east coast look like complete garbage.  I'm hoping that, assuming mine transplants OK, my soil amendments both now and soon to come, will be enough to offset the wiles of nature. Or rather the limitations of nature. 

What I have noticed here in Wilmington, is that typically the partial shade ones look much better than the ones in full sun. There is one that is probably your size if not bigger around the corner from me and the entire canopy is a beautiful deep green. On another note, this beauty would look amazing down the line with a cleaned/skinned trunk!  

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1 hour ago, Jeff zone 8 N.C. said:

Well my back was just beginning to feel better from seeing the earlier pics of it on the trailer.  Now that I have seen the pics of the trunk against the shed siding I can see it's larger in diameter than I thought and I think I threw my back out again. You did an amazing job moving that.

Hydraulic hand tools did most of the heavy lifting.  But whether you're moving jacks and hoists, or a 10 pound shovel for hours on end, there's still plenty of room for back aches.  My wife gets mad at me every time she sees me limping.  Including yesterday and today. 

1 hour ago, JohnT said:

What I have noticed here in Wilmington, is that typically the partial shade ones look much better than the ones in full sun. There is one that is probably your size if not bigger around the corner from me and the entire canopy is a beautiful deep green. On another note, this beauty would look amazing down the line with a cleaned/skinned trunk!  

Trachycarpus are interesting palms, and I took them for granted for 3 years.  When I was in the Pacific North West, almost every single one looked great.  Out here on the east coast, Trachycarpus generally look like garbage.  Especially where the heat, humidity, and sand are dominant.  The best looking Trachycarpus on the east coast seem to be in cooler, more clay-dominated areas.  And although I've only been doing this for 3-4 years now, it is my opinion that shade-grown Trachycarpus (and many other shade-grown plants in general) always look best.  There are sun-lovers, and there are shade lovers.  This seems to be one of the shade persuasion.   

This one does not get direct sun during the winter, but I expect it will when the sun is higher in the summer.  In fact I'm hoping it will provide some canopy for the Mahonia and ferns that I intend to grow at it's feet.  We'll see. 

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One thing you might want to consider is getting some braces on that thing, just in case you get a bad wind storm.  Not sure if they are common out that way.  Baby that thing for the next couple of years and hopefully it will respond.

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Good idea with the Spanish moss. All the rain we are getting should do wonders for a newly planted Trachy. I water with rain water with added root stimulator,  when roots are disturbed a lot.  I use Fertilome brand just because it is widely available  It won't hurt.  With N.C.'s warm soil temps roots should grow all winter. Agree with Chester B.  We can get winds high enough to topple it.

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15 minutes ago, Jeff zone 8 N.C. said:

Good idea with the Spanish moss. All the rain we are getting should do wonders for a newly planted Trachy. I water with rain water with added root stimulator,  when roots are disturbed a lot.  I use Fertilome brand just because it is widely available  It won't hurt.  With N.C.'s warm soil temps roots should grow all winter. Agree with Chester B.  We can get winds high enough to topple it.

I soaked the soil heavily as part of the backfill process; I do not have any root stimulator but I need to get some.  

We do indeed have warm soil temps here.  I remember when I just got here from Washington this summer, I went outside after dark and was blown away by the heat rising from the ground and the incredible warmth of water from the hose. 

I worked outside for awhile today.  It was a very warm 65 degrees and humid.  

Edit; also @Chester B that is a good idea, I intend to do that if it starts getting windy.  I have the shed right there, I can just brace to the soffit.  Leverage is an amazing thing.  Although the rootball is basically concrete at this point, I can stand on the shed roof and shake the whole trunk all around with ease. 

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