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Remove leafbases from a Sabal, or not?


DoomsDave

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I've got a friend in the Florida Panhandle who has a large Sabal and who, noting what he called the torturous labor of removing the leaf bases, asked me if it was okay to just leave them. Pictured below.

I don't have any Sabals with leaf bases on it, so I thought it would be a good idea to ask if anyone here has any thoughts? Seems it won't hurt the plant to leave them on. Am I right or wrong?

Kindly advise.

dave

 

Plant Sky Tire Vehicle Wheel

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Let's keep our forum fun and friendly.

Any data in this post is provided 'as is' and in no event shall I be liable for any damages, including, without limitation, damages resulting from accuracy or lack thereof, insult, or lost profits or revenue, claims by third parties or for other similar costs, or any special, incidental, or consequential damages arising out of my opinion or the use of this data. The accuracy or reliability of the data is not guaranteed or warranted in any way and I disclaim liability of any kind whatsoever, including, without limitation, liability for quality, performance, merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose arising out of the use, or inability to use my data. Other terms may apply.

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It's ok to leave them, some people leave them just for the the look of it and they naturally will fall off overtime anyway 🤠

Edited by ZPalms
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29 minutes ago, ZPalms said:

It's ok to leave them, some people leave them just for the the look of it and they naturally will fall off overtime anyway 🤠

Some of the ones I've seen out here never seem to drop their boots.

And, they look okay, and the plant's okay.

Let's keep our forum fun and friendly.

Any data in this post is provided 'as is' and in no event shall I be liable for any damages, including, without limitation, damages resulting from accuracy or lack thereof, insult, or lost profits or revenue, claims by third parties or for other similar costs, or any special, incidental, or consequential damages arising out of my opinion or the use of this data. The accuracy or reliability of the data is not guaranteed or warranted in any way and I disclaim liability of any kind whatsoever, including, without limitation, liability for quality, performance, merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose arising out of the use, or inability to use my data. Other terms may apply.

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3 hours ago, DoomsDave said:

Some of the ones I've seen out here never seem to drop their boots.

And, they look okay, and the plant's okay.

I could be wrong but I think high humidity and rainfall can help boots come off faster compared to drier climate.

I love sabal boots 🥾 

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The leaf bases on my S. Palmetto are stubborn, ain’t no way they are coming off any time soon. I have a Brahea Edulis that is self cleaning and the trunk looks so clean and smooth, the Sabal is rugged and has all the boots still there, not self cleaning here. Harry

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There are no gardeners in nature running around cleaning off leaf bases of all the palms.  They do what they want, why not let them?

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What was that Nancy Sinatra song these boots are made for walking now that’s a good video clip I do believe gentleman hmmm 🤔 I would suggest leaving them on there’s definitely no harm in that now is there 👢

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“Sabal palm often hosts other plants in its “boots,” including strangler fig, wild grape, Virginia creeper, and a variety of beautiful threatened and endangered ferns. The sabal palm also shelters and supplies nesting material to bats, caracaras, cardinals, crows, doves, flycatchers, gnatcatchers, hawks, hummingbirds, kinglets, mockingbirds, shrikes, wrens, possums, raccoons, squirrels, snakes, tree frogs, lizards, and a variety of insects”. Over pruning and removing the “boots” also removes the habitat of plants and beneficial wildlife, so don’t remove them. They are a great place to observe nature. Just remember that the boots will fall off over time. -University of FL

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Just a piece of historical trivia to clarify some terminology confusion: boots live on your feet...boot-jacks are a Y-shaped tool used to remove those boots from your feet, and Sabal provides a natural approximation of said tool, and those leaf-bases long ago acquired the name "boot-jacks" for that reason. See this Wikipedia article for some background.

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Michael Norell

Rancho Mirage, California | 33°44' N 116°25' W | 287 ft | z10a | avg Jan 43/70F | 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); previously Los Angeles, California (multiple locations)

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There are a bunch of naturalized sabals along the marshy areas of the intracoastal. Some still have boots and some don't. It appears that the  different species lose their boots at different rates but doesn't affect them either way. 

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Jacksonville Beach, FL

Zone 9a

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Sabals in habitat can look like sabals you see in parking lots but better or they can look very pokey pokey stabey stabey.

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Palms - 4 S. romanzoffiana, 1 W. bifurcata, 2 W. robusta, 1 R. rivularis, 1 B. odorata, 1 B. nobilis, 2 S. palmetto, 1 A. merillii, 1 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

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13 hours ago, mnorell said:

Just a piece of historical trivia to clarify some terminology confusion: boots live on your feet...boot-jacks are a Y-shaped tool used to remove those boots from your feet, and Sabal provides a natural approximation of said tool, and those leaf-bases long ago acquired the name "boot-jacks" for that reason. See this Wikipedia article for some background.

I'm going to high-jack your comment to just say that on my one mature Sabal, which is a Sabal mauritiformis, I like the look of the retained boot-jacks.  I wouldn't consider trying to pull them off until they just fall off of their own accord.

20230702-BH3I1902.jpg

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33.0782 North -117.305 West  at 72 feet elevation

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I don't consider removing them on my own property until the tree is mature enough to where they come off super easily with a handscraper / pole scraper. I did my neighbors chinese fan palms because they come off really easy and fast before the tree is even 8 feet tall.

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Personally, I wouldn't remove them. I like the pattern, and it protects the trunk from things like errant string trimmers. They're pretty solid sometimes. I think if you trim them when the frond is still green they are a bit more solid, but maybe I'm imagining the difference. My son, when he was about 4, used to climb surprisingly high, using them like a ladder.

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Woodville, FL

zone 8b

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From what I have seen gardening in the desert(they never come off) and in florida(takes a while but they do) it depends on the climate.  The dead wood cannot rot quickly if it is dry.  The microbes that eat the dead material need water.   Basic logic would say wet them down regularly and they will come off.  Ahh but those drying western winds out there can dry stuff out really fast, they would need to stay wet consistently.  This shedding behavior does of course depend on species and sabal palmetto is a stubborn sabal when it comes to boot jacks or leaf bases.  But I will say the forests around here have sabals with really smooth trunks, you cant get them that smooth by cutting them off and it looks nice that they are smooth as a royal.   

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Formerly in Gilbert AZ, zone 9a/9b. Now in Palmetto, Florida Zone 9b/10a??

 

Tom Blank

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They look smooth from a distance, but I can report from personal experience that if you climb a smooth trunk bootless Sabal and try to slide back down, you will end up with hundreds of tiny splinters in your thighs, forearms and palms.

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Woodville, FL

zone 8b

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8 hours ago, Tracy said:

I'm going to high-jack your comment to just say that on my one mature Sabal, which is a Sabal mauritiformis, I like the look of the retained boot-jacks.  I wouldn't consider trying to pull them off until they just fall off of their own accord.

20230702-BH3I1902.jpg

Wow. Similar yet Different 

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8 hours ago, Tracy said:

I'm going to high-jack your comment to just say that on my one mature Sabal, which is a Sabal mauritiformis, I like the look of the retained boot-jacks.  I wouldn't consider trying to pull them off until they just fall off of their own accord.

20230702-BH3I1902.jpg

Tracy, do you find S. mauritiiformis fast-growing at the coast? It looks like yours has some nice size and has retained the green on many of the boot-jacks…I know that is a beautiful feature of this species but sometimes in cooler climes these kinds of characteristics can be blunted by slower growth than in tropical/hot climates. As age and dry atmosphere greys-out the leafbases. It doesn’t look like you have that problem.  I personally love the green on this species and also like the boot-jacks on S.palmetto and some others (not so much on S. causiarum or S. Domingensis) but in general agree with you on their attractiveness especially in comparison to, say, Washingtonia. 

Michael Norell

Rancho Mirage, California | 33°44' N 116°25' W | 287 ft | z10a | avg Jan 43/70F | 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); previously Los Angeles, California (multiple locations)

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53 minutes ago, mnorell said:

Tracy, do you find S. mauritiiformis fast-growing at the coast? It looks like yours has some nice size and has retained the green on many of the boot-jacks…I know that is a beautiful feature of this species but sometimes in cooler climes these kinds of characteristics can be blunted by slower growth than in tropical/hot climates. As age and dry atmosphere greys-out the leafbases. It doesn’t look like you have that problem.  I personally love the green on this species and also like the boot-jacks on S.palmetto and some others (not so much on S. causiarum or S. Domingensis) but in general agree with you on their attractiveness especially in comparison to, say, Washingtonia. 

That photo represents about 18 years of growth from a 2 or 3 gallon size plant.  I will defer to the experience of those in Central and Southern Florida on just how slow that is.  It holds several feet of foliage above those boot-Jack's.  The plumage shape is elongated and is very different than the pom-pom look of most of my Pritchardia, Bismarckia, or the common Washingtonia robusta here.

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33.0782 North -117.305 West  at 72 feet elevation

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Those boots look good on that Sabal. Leave them alone and save your energy for admiring it.

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Meg

Palms of Victory I shall wear

Cape Coral (It's Just Paradise)
Florida
Zone 10A on the Isabelle Canal
Elevation: 15 feet

I'd like to be under the sea in an octopus' garden in the shade.

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I was forced to remove the boots that interfered with my nearby access to a (relocated water spicket) and side access on a path by it! A few cuts and abrasions sent me to rent an electric chain saw where I quickly took out the offending boots to about my height (6 ft)!

I kept the interesting scruff foraming new hanging baskets or to line pots.

My cat rarely climbs but snapped a pic of palm kitty! 

20231208_100913.jpg

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If it causes cuts , yes I could see removing the sharp leaf bases. Mine is where it can’t hurt anyone so I will leave it unless they come off easily like my Brahea. 

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