I F I 1,1A h
HANDBOOK OF FLORIDA
By BETH McGEACHY
Great Outdoors Association
Manufactured in the United States of America
The Great Outdoors Publishing Co., Inc.,
4747 28th Street North, St. Petersburg 14, Florida
Original Edition Copyright 1955, by
Revised Edition Printed in 1960 by The
Great Outdoors Association
An organization of outdoor writers creating co-
operatively for the benefit of those who appre-
ciate nature. If you like this book, then remem-
ber someone who would also enjoy receiving a
copy, especially a shut-in, or lonely guardian
of our world outposts. Address your orders to
the Great Outdoors Association, 4747 28th St.
North, St. Petersburg 14, Fla.
We hope that with actual
photographs as well as drawings
for your guide, you will learn
to identify the more common va-
rieties and be able to call them
by name. Unable of course to
include all palms, we have tried
to select those most often seen
in outdoor Florida.
It is impossible to acknow-
ledge appropriately the helpful
assistance of the many who of-
fered encouragement and in-
terest, of those who helped in
the assembling and clarifying of
the material, of those who help-
ed in the identification. To all,
thanks are due. I should be re-
miss, however, if I did not men-
tion by name: Miss Sarah Byers,
Clearwater Public Library; Ar-
nett Brown of the Seminole
Nurseries; A. W. Downing of Pi-
nellas Nursery; J. S. Pecarek of
the Largo Sentinel; Dr. John
Davis of the University of Flor-
ida and Lucita Hardie Wait of
Miami. They were generous
with their knowledge and their
Special thanks i. tendered to
Fred Walden, author of A Dic-
tionary or Trees, for the use of
his drawings and his text for re-
search in the palm-like plants.
Rube Allyn furnished the beau-
tiful cover photograph of a
Without these helpful friends,
this book might never have been
Bulletin 152 Native and Exotic Palms of Florida by
Harold Mowry. Published by Agricultural Ex-
tension service of the University of Florida,
Gainesville, Florida (A revision of Bulletin 84).
Bulletin 261 Ornamental Trees by Harold Mowry.
Published as above.
Bulletin 22 Palm Trees in the United States. Agricul-
tural information from the Department of
Agriculture, Washington, D. C.
Botanical Papers from Fairchild Tropical Gar-
den The Major Kinds of Palms by Alex Hawkes.
Photography by: The Bergeson's .... Clearwater
Gatteri .................. Miami, Fla.
Bob Moore ........... Clearwater
George Fulmer .... Clearwater
Beth McGeachy is a North
Carolinian. She was born in Wil-
mington, living there in her youth
and going back later to teach,
after her graduation from Agnes
Scott College. She has lived in
the South with her minister hus-
band, Dr. D. P. McGeachy, Jr.,
and for the last 18 years they
have been in Florida where Dr.
McGeachy has served as minister
at Pea e Memorial Presbyterian
Besides her family, which con-
sists of her husband and three
children, Mrs. McGeachy's main
interest has been her church, with
especial emphasis on the Christ-
ian education of children.
All of her life she had been in-
terested in the world around her
and has, she says, an insatiable
curiosity about what lives and
grows in it. She likes to know
the plants and animals around
her so that she can call them by
Mrs. McGeachy said that when
she moved to Florida she was par-
ticularly fascinated by the Palms.
Few persons could tell her their
names-and those few were sel-
dom available. She did what any-
one else could have done. She
searched for information; read
all available material-and asked
Her particular interest was in
the Palms growing out of doors.
The ones everyone could see. As
she began to learn about them,
she wanted others to know. She
started collecting pictures and in-
formation-and this book was
born. From it she hopes that
many others will be interested to
do what she did: Look, read and
LORIDA is a land of Palms and consequently a
land of beauty. From the Pigmy Date with its
finely cut leaves to the tall Washingtonia that
tosses its fronds in the wind, looking forsooth, like an
Indian chief in his war bonnet; from the creeping Saw
Palmetto to the mighty Royal, the Palms are symbols of
the exotic lands from whence they come.
A Palm is not just a Palm. Each of the estimated
3,000 species has its own individuality. Several hundred
of these Palms have come from various tropical coun-
tries of the world to join the native Palms of Florida,
each making a special contribution, both in beauty and
In making a study of Palms, we find they are divided
into two groups, according to their leaf characteristics.
One of these classes is pinnatee" or feather-leafed, the
other is "Palmate" or fan-leafed, (see cut on another
page.) By far the largest number of species are pinnate.
Palms are woody plants of varied habit. They range
in size from those that grow a hundred feet or more to
the ones that are only two feet high. Some grow as soli-
tary trees, while some have clusters of tall trunks. Still
others are bushy or scrubby.
The first leaves of all Palm seedlings look more or
less alike and could easily be mistaken for grasses. The
succeeding leaves begin to show the characteristic
feather-like or fan-like shape. In some cases, however,
a mature tree is needed for accurate identification.
Palm flowers are small and lily-like in plan, but
are quite varied. They are most often very numerous
and are grown within one or more protective, membran-
eous or woody structures that split or rupture to release
them. The flowers of many plants are not complete for
setting fruits, are either male or female. These two
sexes are borne on the same or separate flower stalks,
on the same tree or on separate trees.
Fruits, too, differ. The largest known is the double
coconut (Lodoicea) weighing 40 pounds or more. The
smallest is about the size of a pea (Euterpe). They are
all somewhat like a peach or cherry in structure, with
a kernel surrounded by a pulp that in turn varies in
character and size.
MOST COMMON VARIETIES
OF PALMS AND PALM-LIKE
with directions and suggestions
as to their care
The above picture shows two kinds of Palm leaves.
On the left is the pinnatee" or feather-leafed. On the
right the palmatee" or fan-leaf.
In this picture we see a closeup of a Palm bloom.
and the Spadix in which it has been held.
Note the other spathes behind the open ones. These
are almost mature. All Palms bloom in this manner.
The fruit is set as the flowers drop off. This bloom
from the Cocos plumosa is one of the handsomest.
^ :: -- -;iIF^
SAW CABBAGE Paurotis wrightii
The Saw Cabbage belongs in the cluster-forming
species. From these clumps rise slender trees that at
times reach the height of 40 feet. Their trunks are usu-
ally covered with red-brown leaf bases. They have as
their foliage small, stiff, fan-shaped leaves. These
leaves are divided about half way into numerous seg-
ments which are in turn deeply split.
In some localities this Palm is called M1Vadeira. It
is at home in southern Florida, Bahamas and Cuba.
The flowers are abundant but tiny blossoms. The
fruit is reddish, globular, one-half inch in diameter.
CABBAGE PALM Sabal palmetto
Also called Carolina Palm and Swamp Cabbage.
Native to southeastern United States and Bahamas,
ranges from North Carolina to Florida. In natural state
generally found growing in large groups, close together,
trunks encased in the plaited-like bootjackss" of old
leaf bases on the younger Palms. An occasional older
specimen will have shed the "boots" and have a smooth
trunk towering 40 to 60 feet.
Leaves fan-shaped, medium glossy green above,
grayish-green underside, to seven feet long, alternate,
deeply divided in drooping segments with thread-like
fibers, on four to six foot stalks.
Flowers greenish-white, fragrant, one-fourth inch
wide, in immense drooping clusters. Seed fruit one-half
inch wide, round, blackish-brown.
The Cabbage Palm derives its common name from
the fact that the leaf bud or "heart" at the top of the
trunk is an edible delicacy with a fine cabbage flavor
when cooked in the same manner as the vegetable. It
was one of the chief foods of the early Florida Indians
and today can be found in many stores,
The Cabbage Palm is the State Tree of Florida.
Group Planting of
S . ,' ..-. .. r . ".
This picture shows a group planting of Palmettos
in a yard in Clearwater, Florida. Note the "boots" on
two of the trunks. These are the remains of old leaf
These Palms are also found growing in marshes,
hammocks and sandy soil. They are at home in almost
every part of Florida.
SAW PALMETTO Serenoa repens
This is a very common Palm which grows throughout
the southern United States. It often covers huge areas
with a solid mass of creeping stems that have heads of
handsome leaves. These stems or trunks are usually
horizontal but at times grow into an erect plant of 10
feet. The fan-shaped leaves are nearly circular and
deeply cut into many divisions. The leaf color is gen-
erally green to yellowish green, but in some areas, main-
ly along the coast, many of the plants have a shiny blu-
ish cast that is in striking contrast to the plants farther
north or inland. The leaf stalks are slender and are
armed with numerous small but very sharp spines.
This Saw Palmetto may be seen growing wild in al-
most any uncultivated area. It is often left to make
attractive clumps as land is developed.
The Saw Palmetto is closely allied to the genus
Sabal, but is a species in its own right. Its fan-like
leaves are most attractive but the plant itself is such
a prolific grower that it causes trouble when land is to
be cleared. The root system is difficult to remove.
The flowers are white, the fruit is blue-black and
oblong in shape, about one inch long. They are at home
in Florida and all of the southern states east of the Mis-
sissippi as far north as the Carolinas.
WASHINGTONIA PALM Washingtonia robusta
Native to mexico and Lower California, this genus of
American Fan Palms is grown extensively in California,
Florida and gulf states.
W. robusta, species most commonly grown in Flor-
ida, is distinguished by its heavy growth, 80 to 100 feet,
when mature and untrimmed and usually covered with
shaggy mass of dead leaves, like a huge skirt, giving
its nickname "Petticoat Palm."
The broad leaves resemble huge fans, measuring
three to five feet across, accordian-pleated with up to
70 folds, borne on two and one-half to three feet spiny-
edged, orange-brown stalks, first erect, then spreading
and finally drooping.
Branched clusters of tiny white flowers are followed
by round, lampblack seed fruits.
Highly salt resisting, flourishes in Florida near the
bays and gulf from Jacksonville to Miami.
W. filifera is similar to W. robusta but better suited
for drier inland climate of California, differing from
the Robusta by having grey-green foliage and tough
thread-like filaments around the outer edge.
The Washingtonias are the most widespread and
popular of all the Palm groups in cultivation in sub-
This picture was taken by the roadside. It shows a
Washingtonia that has not been trimmed.. When un-
trimmed the fronds will stay on for years. It is easy to
see how the Palm gets its nickname "Petticoat Palm."
. 4 4 ,
These Washingtonias are on the Memorial Cause-
way between Clearwater, Florida, and Clearwater
Beach. The picture shows the Phoenix canariensis be-
tween the tall Washingtonias. The inset is of a small
Washingtonia showing the characteristic stiff leaf.
Many Florida cities have streets lined with this
COCOS PLUMOSA Arecastrum romanzoffianum
Also called Feather Palm and Queen Palm.
Native to Brazil. Height, 40 to 60 feet, slender,
grayish trunk 12 to 14 inches in diameter, larger -it
base, with rings of scar tissue of former leaf growth,
shaggy, spreading crown.
Feathery leaves, or fronds, 10 to 15 feet long, gently
arched, the fringe-like leaflets 10 to 12 inches long and
one inch wide drooping from the two-to-three-inch-wide
Hard, woody bloom bracts four to six feet long,
ribbed from tip to base, are borne in lower leaf sheaths
and resemble a small canoe when the golden-yellow
flower cluster is released. Orange-colored fruits one
inch thick are borne along the 12-inch flower spikes
growing laterally from the cane-like stem of the four-to-
six-foot-long flower cluster. The hard-shelled fruit, or
nut, when ripe and peeled from its thin fibrous husk
has the familiar monkey-face of the coconut. Poisonous
Propagation is by seed only which requires six
months for germination. The round, nut-like seeds
should be planted in moist, loamy soil about one or two
For its beauty and fairly rapid growth, this Palm is
widely planted in Florida.
The Cocos plumosa, in many respects, is similar to
the Royal Palm. It has a smooth trunk, but is marked
with rings. Its fronds are softer and more graceful
(hence its name, plumosa.) It lacks, however, the
smooth green leaf of the Royal; for near its own top
the bases of old leaf stalks remain.
The foliage of this Palm varies perhaps more than in
any other, in the degree of its beauty. Some fronds will
be thin and straggly while others are a lush green, al-
most sweeping the ground. This is 'due to the treatment
it has received.
COCONUT Cocos nucifera
The natural habitat of the Coconut Palm is not
known but is believed to be in or near the Indian archi-
pelago. It is now native to all tropical regions.
The coconut is perhaps the most important of all
palms commercially. Practically all parts are useful.
The Coconut Palm flourishes when exposed to wind
and water, thus it is adaptable to seaside planting.
Height 50 to 100 feet, usually with slender arched
trunk and thick distended base.
Feathery leaves, or fronds 15 to 20 feet long, five
feet long and two inches wide hanging from either side
of a stiffly arched midrib form the graceful crown.
The bloom bracts with sprays of waxy, ivory-col-
ored flowers and clusters of nuts are borne beneath the
leaf crown. Older trees often can be observed bearing
flowers, various-sized green nuts and the 12-to-15-inch-
long, 10-inch-wide, light brown fibrous-husked mature
nuts all at the same time. The roundish, hard-shelled
monkey-faced nut is encased in the center of the husk.
Propagation is by seed only, and requiring several
months for germination. The nut, still in the husk, is
laid on its side with the broad, or stem end where the
"eyes" are located and from which the sprout will
emerge, slightly higher than bottom of the seed.
This Coconut Palm had clusters of large fruit when
this picture was taken. It, like others planted in Cen-
tral Florida, was killed in the freeze of 1958. More
than 80 per cent of the Coconut trees were lost at that
time. Although this Palm can be grown as far north as
Tampa, it is 'definitely a tropical tree.
BOT ILE PALM
This Palm is most attractive. The trunk is thick at
the bottom narrowing under the flowering area, thus
giving it its popular name. It is closely ringed and
rough; grows to about 15 feet. The fronds are a yellow-
ish-green and rather stiff, with a twist that makes them
distinctive. Its cousin the Spindle Palm (Mascarena
verschaffeltii) is also unusual. Growing taller, its trunk
is narrowed in the middle and swollen just under the
flowering area. Leaves of the Spindle are born in a
dense crown. Both Palms are easily identified. Flowers:
In double lines. Fruit: Black, rough and egg-shaped,
about one inch. Native habitat is the Mascarene Islands.
CANARY ISLAND DATE PALM Phoenix canariensis
The Date Palm group (genus Phoenix) includes sev-
eral species, most of which are found in Florida. The
name "Phoenix" means purple, but it may also refer to
the ancient country of Phoenicia. The Date Palm is one
of the oldest of the cultivated plants and is referred to
in ancient records.
Of this group, the Canary Island Date is one of the
most beautiful. It can be safely planted in nearly all
parts of Florida, being quite hardy and seldom injured
by the cold. The tree has a spread of 30 feet and is
easily recognized by its massive trunk often with hun-
dreds of small ferns.
This palm is often called the Pineapple Palm because
of its pineapple-shaped trunk.
Flowers are cream-white. The fruit is yellow and
egg-shaped. This date is edible. The size is about three-
quarters of an inch. They are found mostly in southern
Florida, but, of course, are native to the Canary Islands.
CLIFF DATE PALM Phoenix rupicola
This palm is very distinctive and easy to identify. Its
rather slender trunk has bright green leaves that are
soft and flat. They fairly glisten in the sun as they arch
in a most attractive manner. It is unusual and especially
adaptable to landscaping planting.
The flowers are cream-white; the fruit orange, about
one-half inch in size. This Palm came originally from
India, but now is a native of Florida.
The picture of this Cliff Date Palm taken in Clear-
water, Florida, shows very plainly how the fronds arch
from their base.
INDIA DATE PALM Phoenix sylvestris
This is a tall, fast-growing Palm It somewhat re-
sembles the Phoenix canariensis, but with shorter leaves
and a less massive trunk. It also attains a greater height.
A distinguishing characteristic of most specimens is
the large mass of exposed roots at the base of the trunk.
The tree is very symmetrical and quite attractive.
The blossoming period of many species of this genus
occurs at the same time and has thus resulted in much
inter-crossing. This has caused considerable confusion
as to the correct identification.
The flowers are cream colored The fruit is of an
orange hue, and about one-half inch in size. They are
native to India, but planted throughout Florida.
DATE PALM Phoenix dactylifera
This Phoenix is the Common Date Palm of commerce.
It is native to Egypt and Arabia but found in abundance
in the United States. It often reaches a height of 90 to
100 feet with trunks roughly scarred. The Date Palm
bears wherever it is found but only in arid climates such
as California and Arizona is the fruit produced for com-
Leaves, or fronds, 18 to 20 feet long, two to three
feet wide, feathery, dark green with sharp spines at
base near trunk.
Male and female flowers are borne in large clusters
on separate trees. The fruit is an oblong berry with a
grooved seed, a good tree usually bearing up to 200
pounds. The seeds also can be ground and used as a
substitute for coffee.
Propagation is by seed, or by the suckers which de-
velop at the base or on the side of the trunk which are
removed when about five years old.
Commercial growing in this country was begun in
the late 1800s, in Arizona, and was given added impetus
with the importations of better varieties by W. T. Swin-
gle of the U. S. Department of Agriculture.
This Date Palm in Clearwater has given as many
as six pounds of fruit, proving that edible dates can be
produced in Florida climate. These dates had excellent
flavor, if not quite as much meat as those in arid
SENEGAL DATE Phoenix recinata
A fast-growing tropical Palm native to Senegalese
area in southeast Africa, found growing in thick clumps,
20 to 30 feet in height with rounded, matted crown
of drooping fronds that often partially obscure five
to a dozen or more reclining slender, shaggy trunks
that have suckered from a common rootstock. When
thinned out to five or six closely growing, tall, slender
trunks, a pleasing effect is created. Constant pruning
of suckers, however, is necessary to keep it from de-
veloping into a tangled mass as shown in the drawing
The bright green, stiffly curving feather-shaped leaf
fronds are six to eight feet long with narrow, pointed
leaflets 15 to 18 inches long.
Sprays of tiny cream-colored flowers are borne in
the canoe-shaped spathes or buds produced on the
clustered trunks. The sticky, ripening fruit, rusty-orange
in color, about one inch long, is edible, but lacks the
appetizing flavor of its close relative, the Phoenix dac-
tylifera, the Date Palm of commerce. This is a rather
important wine Palm in parts of Africa
Although this Palm presents itself as a suitable
landscape subject when the suckers are kept pruned, it
seldom is used in closely planted areas because of the
care needed to hold it in check. The Senegal Date
will grow in North Florida, but constant care is neces-
sary to protect it from frost.
Seregal Date Palm
This picture taken in (ClearwaLIt, MAVLLur, aOiu L~oi
palm after the many suckers have been removed. It is
about 25 to 30 years old.
The untrimmed Senegal Date forms a large and
beautiful cluster. It often reaches the height of 25 feet
and its long fronds practically touch the ground. Even
in its beauty it is difficult to deal with because of its
PYGMY DATE PALM Phoenix loueiri
Graceful Dwarf Palm, native of tropical Asia and
Africa and widely grown in Florida as landscape sub-
ject and as potted house plant in northern states.
A true pygmy, it seldom exceeds ten feet in height
with slender trunk five to six inches in diameter, cov-
ered with hard, protruding triangular basal ends of for-
mer leaf stems and presenting a geometrical pocked ap-
pearance at first glance.
Leaves, or fronds, three to four feet long, arched,
with drooping, fringe-like dark-green leaflets, five to
eight inches long, with sharp spines at base of leaf,
near the trunk.
Canoe-shaped bloom spathes 12 to 14 inches long
borne in lower leaf sheaths near crown. Small, green-
ish-yellow flowers on short spikes, in clusters, the male
and female bloom produced on different plants. Seeds,
about one-half inch long, oblong, with small, sharp
spine at tip and seated acorn-like in tiny cup.
Discovered in Siam in the late nineteenth century
by the German Roebelin.
Pigmy Date Palm
The Pigmy Date is ideal for interior decoration. It is
dainty and attractive and its finely cut leaves are very
graceful. It is used also in landscaping.
The Palm never grows very tall but is much more
attractive when it is very short and its fronds almost
touch the ground, as is shown in the picture.
ROYAL PALM Roystonea regia
Royal Palms are among the handsomest of all
Palms. Their smooth, cylindrical trunks look more like
gray concrete pillars than living structures. These
trunks are capped by a bright green super column of
sheathing leaf bases which terminate in a beautiful
crown of dark green feather-like leaves. Only the sheaf
of the oldest leaf is visible in the 8 to 10-foot super
column since it completely encircles and encloses the
The leaves, or fronds, are alternate, feathery, dark
green from 12 to 25 feet long. They have numerous
strap-like leaflets to three feet long at the base of leaf
spine, decreasing in length to a few inches at tip pro-
ducing a featherlike appearance.
Small fragrant, white flowers in thickly branched
drooping clusters 18 inches to two feet long are borne
at the leaf-sheath base (see illustration).
Fruits are dark red, almost purple about one-half
inch in length-very abundant. Native to Cuba.
Roystonea elata-The Florida Royal Palm is very
like the R. regia and often mistaken for it. The general
characteristics are about the same. The fruit however,
is more violet in color.
The Royal Palm is well named and anyone who sees
one is aware of its stately splendor. It is, however a
tropical tree although it may be found up as far as Cen-
The clump shown in the picture is grown in a pro-
tected courtyard and has attained the height of 30 feet.
YELLOW BUTTERFLY PALM Chrysalidocarpus lutescens
Also called Areca Palm; Cane Palm or Bamboo Palm.
Native to Madagascar.
Leaves, or fronds are pinnate, six to eight feet long
with numerous dark leaflets 10 to 15 inches long, arch-
ing from a yellowish midriff.
Grows in clumps up to 40 feet in height with slen-
der, yellow, smooth trunk, ringed, resembling the bam-
Short clusters of tiny, white, fragrant flowers are
borne close to the crown. Oblong, three-quarters of an
inch long, the fruit is yellowish-orange and turns a deep
purple when mature.
Grown in South Florida as landscaping subject and
as a pot plant everywhere for indoor ornamenting.
Thrives best in a rich, fibrous soil.
An allied species, Areca cathecu, commonly called
the Betel Nut Palm is definitely tropical. This single
trunk variety produces an orange colored, nut-like seed-
fruit that is chewed by the Asiatic natives as a stimu-
lant. It has a pungent flavor and the juice causes a
black stain to be left on the teeth. The juice is also
used as an astringent.
Yellow Butterfly Palm
This picture, taken in Clearwater, Florida, shows how
decorative this Cluster Palm can be. It shows also the
height to which it often grows.
This Palm thrives equally well in pots and is often
used indoors where a green background is needed for
CHINESE FAN PALM Livistona chinensis
The Chinese Fan Palm is the most common of the Liv-
istona family, growing perhaps 30 feet and being well
adapted to sub-tropical climates. The trunk is vaguely
ringed and brownish.
The leaves are fan-shaped and have a definite
lengthwise fold along the center. They are divided into
some 50 or 60 long-pointed segments which droop grace-
fully at the ends.
The flowers are white and have an unpleasant odor.
The fruit is dull metallic blue, olive shape, about one
inch in diameter. Originally from China and Japan.
F~*~Allfi ~P~ll~lFAL I?
i L~'ei~li1~p~SCrl~~t-6i h
_ ;..-I;.i~I"\; '~:~;f ;r
GRU-GRU PALM Acroromia totai
The handsome Gru-Gru, or Acrocomia as it is some-
times called, often attains a height of 40 feet
The trunks are straight and cylindrical but armed
with black spikes, making them unsuitable for general
planting. The tree is topped with a mass of glossy green
leaves. These are pinnate and resemble the Cocos plu-
mosa, but are thicker and shorter.
Flowers are yellow and fruit is abundant. Originally
.- ** -.
JELLY PALM Butia capitata
The Jelly Palm belongs to a group of Palms former-
ly listed under the genus Cocos australis. They are easily
identified because of their grayish green color and their
pinnate leaves that curve and recurve. The trunk is
covered with gray leaf bases, giving the plant a rugged
appearance. A delicious clear jelly is often made from
the fruit of this tree in its native habitat, South America.
In North America the tree is used only to give variety
to ornamental planting. It is so hardy that it may be
found in the northernmost part of the state and as far
north as South Georgia.
The flower is yellow-lilac-reddish. The fruit, orange
to yellow, egg-shaped and edible. Size about one inch.
South America is their native habitat.
MANILA PALM (Adonidia merrillii) Veitchia merrillii
This Palm is one of the most beautiful growing in
Florida. Some people call it the Little Royal, because of
its crown of arching leaves which rise out of a bright
upper column like the Royal Palm. It is a rapid grower
from seed and once started to produce flowers and fruit,
is scarcely without them. The brilliant red fruit seen in
December gives it the name "The Christmas Palm."
The flowers are white; the fruit a brilliant red, and
egg-shaped, hanging in showy clusters, about one and
a half inch in size. Originally from the Philippines, this
Palm is now quite common in South Florida.
KING PALM Archontophoenix alexandrae
An Australian Palm native to Queensland and New
South Wales and considered most graceful of all the
Feather Palms. Often grows to height of 80 feet. Trunk
usually seven to 12 inches thick at base, tapering to
slightly bulging polished leaf sheaths underneath
The King Palm has pinnate leaves 12 to 15 feet long
with slender dark green leaflets that are glaucous white
underneath. Leaf sheaths are milky oyster-white.
Flowers, white or creamy-white produced in large
masses and followed by small bright red fruit. Seed,
small, round with thin, fibrous covering.
The deep green feathery leaf-fronds are five to
eight feet long with two-inch wide leaflets up to two
and one-half feet long.
The King Palm is very like its cousin the Piccabeen
Palm the Archontophoenix cunninghamiana. The flow-
ers of the latter are lilac in color.
The King Palm requires a rich moist soil in a pro-
tected location. Young plants are very tender and very
easily hurt by the cold, but will survive short periods
of low temperature when mature.
This Palm is very stately and is much admired -
and desired for planting.
Alexandria King Palm
BBS^^ cl-gge"-" *7
This Palm is a graceful and rapid-growing tree. To
the eye, they are quite beautiful, with smooth, slender
trunks that sometimes reach 100 feet in height. These
trunks are marked with scars which are left from fallen
The Alexandria King is of this family. It is topped
with a crown of narrow pinnate leaves that have very
regular segments. They are green on top and rather
shiny white underneath. The secondary rib or nerves
are very prominent. The trunk is somewhat enlarged
toward the base.
S-. .. a a -,-- . .___. .
FLORIDA THATCH PALM Thrinax parviflora
Thatch Palms are found generally on the southern
tip of Florida. All have slender, graceful trunks rising
25 or 35 feet. The fan-shaped leaves make almost a
complete circle and are often utilized as a covering for
The Florida Thatch Palm has a slender trunk about
six inches in diameter. The green leaves have wide
segments that are cleft halfway or more the length of
the leaf, and are a shining yellowish color.
The flowers grow close together and the fruit is
white, globular, about one-fourth inch in size.
FLORIDA SILVER PALM Cocothrinax argentata
This delightful little Palm is definitely of the south-
ern climate. The above picture taken at Fairchild Gar-
dens, Coconut Grove, near Miami shows its character-
istics. It is very slender, not exceeding six inches in
diameter. It is smooth and rather slate colored.
Its fan-shaped leaves are almost circular and fairly
thin. They are glossy green on the top and silvery un-
derneath. When the wind tosses their leaves it is easy
to see how they came by the name of "Silver Palm".
The Palm can attain a height of 20 feet, although
the majority of trees are not more than three feet tall.
They sometimes branch at the base to form a cluster.
The fruit is about one-half inch in diameter and the
meat very dark, almost black. The Silver Palm is native
FISH TAIL PALM Caryota ureus
Also called Wine Palm, Toddy Palm and Jagger,.
Native to Asia and Australia. Often reaches height
of 60 feet, with ringed, brown trunks one to one and
one-half feet diameter, smooth after leaf sheaths have
Leaves are dark green, to 20 feet long and 10 to 15
feet wide, the leaflets stiff and prominently notched
with wedge-shaped divisions that somewhat resemble
a fish's tail from which the common name is derived.
Flowers borne in axils of leaves in large clusters of
plume-like racemes which very often is likened to a
horse's tail. Although the trees do not bloom until ma-
turity and die after fruiting, the process may require
several years as all of the species start flowering from
the topmost leaf axil downward until the very bottom
one has produced a bloom. Seeds are reddish-black,
round or kidney-shaped.
Similar to the above is the Caryota mitis, which
suckers freely and generally is seen growing in clumps
of six or more smooth stems.
The fruit of the Fish Tail Palm is not only inedible,
it is dangerous to eat.
Fish Tail Palms
This Fish Tail Palm is a rather fast grower and
needs extra space. It is a lovely tree, as this picture
shows. It is seen here, however growing in a narrow
parkway. It was later transferred to a lawn where
because of its size it was much more impressive.
MacARTHUR PALM Actinophloeus macarthuri
This is a cluster palm, an attractive, slender, grey-
trunk species that grows at times to 25 feet. The pin-
nate leaves are a bright dark-green. The individual
leaflets are obliquely cut at the ends as if they have been
The flowers are white. The fruit is green at first,
then turns red, about one-half inch in diameter.
They are originally from New Guinea.
BROAD LEAF LADY PALM Rhapis excelsa
The Raphis is a family of slender reed-like Palms
that form dense clusters. The numerous trunks may
reach a height of 15 feet. They will be about two inches
in diameter and smooth green, prominently ringed, usu-
ally covered with fibrous material.
The palmate leaves are about two and a half feet
across, glossy green and deeply cut into many segments
which are slightly drooping with the ends blunt al-
Flowers are yellowish in color. The fruit is brown-
ish-purple, pear-shaped, about one-half inch in size.
They are native to South China and Japan.
This variety is good where mass foliage is wanted.
Well adapted to partial shade.
AFRICAN OIL PALM Elaeis guineensis
A native tropical African palm with long, arched,
feathery, 15-feet-long leaves or fronds very similar to
the Date Palm. The trunk, immediately below the
leaves, is covered with a fibrous matting much like that
of the Coconut Palm and often attains a height of 50
or more feet.
Flowers are borne when the Palm is but three or
four years old. The red or yellow nut-like fruit, about
the size of a hickory nut, is produced in large, closely
compacted clusters with sharp, protruding spines. Pulp
of fruit is edible as is the seed.
Cultivated commercially in its native Africa and the
East Indies for "palm oil" used in soap and ointments.
Although rare in this country, it could well be adap-
ted to South Florida as a beautiful ornamental and
very likely could be cultivated in sufficient quantities
to make it a commercial attribute to the State. Growing
conditions are very much the same for this Palm as for
other tropical species introduced into the State.
Although Palms generally are associated with high
temperatures, many actually suffer more from exposure
to the intense direct heat of the sun than from cold.
There are not very many African Oil Palms in Flor-
ida but it is a very ornamental tree. The one pi-tured
above is at the Fairchild Tropical Gardens in Miami.
With its graceful leaves which are dark green and its
massive trunk which is covered with fibre, it makes a
most unusual picture.
You will note from the size of the tree that a great
deal of space should be set aside for its growth. On
anything short of an estate this African Oil Palm
would definitely be crowded.
Because this Palm has become well adapted to
Southern Florida, there is some conjecture as to whether
or not it might be grown for commercial use. At present
its virtue is confined to ornamentation. In that field it
SUGAR PALM Arenga saccharifera
This is a massive Palm under cultivation because of
its height and tremendous fronds. The leaves are a
very dark green and sweep upwards. They are some-
times 28 feet long and six feet wide.
The trunks while young are covered with old leaf
stalks and coarse black fibers. This gives it a dark, un-
kemot appearance. Native of India.
This Palm where native is one of the chief sources of
sugar, which is obtained by cutting the flower clusters.
The fiber also is valuable for cord.
The flowers, male, green with violet petals; female.
all green. The fruit is yellow and purple-yellow, globu-
lar in shape and about two inches in diameter.
(|fa. .,.- -. . -;
SOLITAIRE PALM Ptychosperma elegans (Seforthia elegans)
The Solitaire Palm is a beautiful small tree that is
well adapted to small lawns or group plantings. The
ringed trunk which is somewhat enlarged at the base
is about four inches thick. The leaves are erect and arch-
ing, having 20 or more pairs of fairly wide pinnate
leaves. The clasping leaf sheaths make a small upper
shaft or column.
The name Seforthia or Alexandra is sometimes used
to designate this Palm. Flowers: White. Fruit. Red, al-
most round; 1/ inch. Native Australia.
PRINCESS PALM Dictyosperma album
The Princess Palm, sometimes called the Hurricane
Palm is very tall and stately. Its dark grey trunk with
rings at its base, is about 8 inches in diameter and rises
to about 35 feet. The leaves are graceful and spreading,
with the individual leaflets slightly drooping. These
leaves are often 12 feet long with the individual leaflets
reaching two feet and two inches wide. Ends are split.
Flowers reddish-yellow, fragrant. Fruit, egg-shaped
purplish, about half inch. Habitat Mascerne Islands.
SAGO PALM Cycas revoluta
Although the Sago resembles a Palm it is not one.
Instead it is a Cycad (Cycas), which is the oldest known
species of seed bearing plants.
It is a slow-growing plant native to Japan. The Sago
may reach a height of 10 teet but it is most often seen
much smaller. It has a palm-like trunk about a foot in
diameter which is surrounded with stiff shiny dark green
leaves. These leaves are arranged in the form of a ro-
sette. They are from three to five feet long with leaf-
lets extending from the main midrib about four or five
As with all Cycads, the male and female flowers
are produced on different plants. The cones which hold
these flowers both grow at the top of the trunk but the
male cone is elongated while the female cone is round
and dome-like. Both are yellowish-orange and showy.
The seeds are born in a cluster of what looks like dwarf
leaves around the female cone. These, as well as the
larger leaves of the Sago are very desirable for flower
They are in demand for the making of funeral de-
signs and are also sought in the decorating of churches
for Palm Sunday.
These plants are tropical in appearance and add dis-
tinction to a garden.
FERN PALM Cycas circinalis
The Fern Palm, like the Sago Palm, is one of the
family of Cycads, which closely resemble true Palms.
Resemblance is closer to the Sago Palm in that it has
rich, dark green pinnate leaves growing from a pithy
stem, but the leaves of the Fern Palm are usually
much longer and have a softer, more feathery, fern-
Like all cycads the Fern Palm bears male and female
flowers on separate plants. The male flowers are pro-
duced in an elongated cone that as it matures gives off
a rather objectionable odor. The female cone is round
and less conspicious. It is often sought, however, for
This plant grows rapidly and very luxuriantly.
Along the stem there are often found many suckers
which, if they are removed may be started as new plants.
These cycads, because of their very dark green foliage,
add much to a landscape. They are used a great deal in
ornamental plantings. The leaves are also valuable for
COONTIE (SEMINOLE BREAD) Zanjia integrifolia
Of the family Cycads, the Zamias are closely allied
to the Palms and should be included in the study of fi-
brous trees. The Coontie. which grows wild, is one of
the most primitive of seed-bearing plants. They are a
staple with the Seminoles in South Florida and much
folklore is wrapped around their usefulness.
The Coontie is a fern-like plant with rather stiff
leaves. The plant tends to be circular with the fruit in
the center. Like the other Cycads, they are either male
or female. The fruits of the latter are much more showy
-reddish-brown pods that open to show scarlet seeds.
The male fruit is long and thin. The leaves of the Coontie
as well as the fruit pods are used extensively in flower
The large underground stems contain a starch-like
substance that the Seminole Indians have utilized for a
kind of bread. This has given the Coontie its nickname
"Seminole Bread." There is, however, present in this
substance a certain amount of poison. The Indians have
learned to remove this by frequent washings and knead-
ings. The commercial name of Arrowroot has been given
to this product. It is interesting to note that the Zamias
in some other parts of the world have a poison that is
not so mild. It is so potent in fact that it has been used
in assassinations. The plant can be brought under culti-
vation and it thrives, but grows very slowly.
PANDANUS Pandanus veitchii
Also called Screw Pine.
Member Screw Pine Family (Pandanaceae).
Tropical Old World plant growing 30 to 40 feet
high with slender trunks, palm-like, and usually sup-
ported by immense prop roots that appear to be lifting
the tree from the soil.
The common name-Screw Pine-is derived from
the spiral growth-habit of the prickly-margined sword-
like leaves. These leaves are narrow (about 3 inches)
and grow several feet long.
Flowers are small and borne in close spikes or heads.
The fruit of the Screw Pine is a mass of woody nuts
that hang picturesquely in a large ball, and are edible.
Like other tropical plants the tree is useful. The roots
are often used for the making of ropes and baskets. The
leaves are woven into mats and hats. The leaves are
also collected for the making of paper.
Much hardier than the Palms, it is grown through-
out South Florida and occasionally in protected areas
in Central area of the state.
Propagation is by seeds or by suckers growing from
stem base of plant. When suckers are taken for grow-
ing-on into individual plants, remove when very small.
This is done with point of knife blade. Pot singly in small
container using a sandy-loam mixture and water spar-
ingly until roots are formed. Young potted specimens
make excellent house or patio plants.
This Screw Pine is an attractive addition to the gar-
den of the Wedgwood Inn of St. Petersburg, Florida.
When in fruit it has many clusters of nuts that give it
a tropical appearance. With roots above ground the
tree seems to walk on stilts.
TRAVELERS TREE Ravenala madagascariensis
Member Banana Family (Musaceae)
A remarkable tropical plant with palm-like trunk
up to one foot or more in diameter sometimes reaching
height of 30 feet with broad fan-shaped top of long
Leaves range up to 10 feet long, 12 to 20 inches wide
with heavy arching midrib, older leaves having many
splits in side sections.
Small white flowers are borne in canoe-like pods
or bracts, all attached to a single erect stalk. Seeds are
black with bluish shell or husk which drops away as
Like the banana, water is stored in the bases of the
leaf stalks which naturally would be a welcome find
for the weary, thirsty traveler.
The large leaves grow very symetrically, often at-
taining a length of 15 feet. They are easily frayed by
the winds but this seemingly has little effect on the
ornamental value of the tree. This species differs so
materially from the other trees in shape and appear-
ance that it is often included in a garden when an un-
common plant is wanted. Native to Madagascar,
i~~~ U 1~~
F~i b~~F 18 41 '
This picture taken in Clearwater, Florida is of a very
young tree. The leaves even in this specimen have be-
gun to be frayed by the wind. The blossoms and fruit
will come later at the base of the stalks. This tree if
allowed to sucker will form an attractive clump for the
garden. Note the heavy stalks that are quite hollow
and store liquid.
Very large herb-like perennial native to tropical
Asia and grown throughout the tropical and subtropical
world. In favorable conditions it usually attains height
of nine to 20 feet in from 10 to 15 months after plant-
ing. Often grown as ornamentals and sometimes pro-
duce fruit in milder areas of California, Louisiana and
the seaboard sections of the Gulf States. Banana cul-
ture in the United States, however, is largely confined
to Florida south of Fort Pierce and Tampa.
The thick, soft stalk or false trunk is composed of
accumulated layers of the bases of leaf sheaths, with
crown of bright green leaves, four to nine feet long
and up to two feet wide, depending upon variety. The
tender leaves usually are torn to shreds by strong winds
unless planted in a sheltered location. Short periods of
cold will not kill the plant, but it does destroy any
chance of obtaining fruit.
When the plant reaches flowering age, the huge
purplish bud emerges from the center of the crown. In
a few days the floral stalk has grown long enough to
extend downward, and the leathery bracts or flower
sheaths with reddish inner lining, open successively as
the bud stalk develops, exposing tiered rows of yel-
lowish-white tube-like flowers.
A tropical hollow-stem perennial including several
species, natives of the warmer parts of Asia, Africa,
and South America and widely distributed in the tro-
pical and subtropical regions of both continents. The
most important is Banbusa arundinaceae, growing to
70 feet or more, the stems attaining a diameter of five
or six inches and are used for building, furniture-mak-
ing and many other utilitarian purposes. Several smaller
species including Bambusa multiplex, Phyllostachys
aurea and Bambusa vulgaris, all of which range in
height from 30 to 40 feet, and Bambusa nana, seldom
over 10 feet, are much used as garden subjects for
special effects. The latter, B. nana, has bluish-green
leaves which often are marked with splotches of yel-
low, pinkish-red and silver.
Inconspicuous flowers are borne in many species,
especially B. arundinaceae which dies after flowering.
Because of the unreliability of flowering it is difficult
to obtain seed and propagation almost wholly is by
layering or division of root clumps.
Bamboos require partial shade and should be plant-
ed in deep, rich loam and watered frequently when
rainfall is insufficient to keep the ground moist, especi-
ally during the spring and summer growing seasons.
Holes for planting Palms should be dug much larger
than the size of the plant and filled with compost, de-
cayed leaves and grass cuttings, well rotted manure, muck
and clay if soil is too sandy. The addition of bone meal
is good. This should be prepared two months in advance
Palms may be planted or transplanted at any time,
but the rainy summer months are best, since that is the
time of vigorous root growth and also the time when na-
ture produces more water. In transplanting, trees should
be put in at least as deep as they were before. Fill the
hole with top soil, making a saucer-like depression to
collect and hold water. A mulch of well-rotted manure,
peat, or leaves is advisable. Watering must not be
.* 4 4. .
The pruning of Palms usually means the trimming off
of leaves and floral parts as they turn brown and become
unsightly. Palms make their growth from center leaves
and these should not be disturbed. In pruning clustering
Palms the stems that are too tall may be cut out rather
than back. This will allow others to grow up to take
their place. Severe pruning of outer leaves is necessary
when Palms are transplanted. The palm-leafed variety
require even closer pruning than the feather-leafed va-
The University of Florida is continually making ex-
periments and giving out additional information. Every
Floridian should know of this service and appreciate it.
The address has been given in the front of this book.
Palms are grown from seeds, off shoots or from
the division of clusters. A few trees like the true Date
puts out shoots near its base and these may be removed
when young in order to start new ones. Some of the
clustering Palms, where several stems are present, may
be safely divided when the plant is young. This is true
of the Yellow Butterfly.
With the majority of Palms, seeds are the sole method
of obtaining new plants. Seeds should be planted as soon
as possible after maturity. They need to be covered with
soil from 1/8 to 1 inch and kept moist during the time of
germination. Some seeds such as those of the Phoenix or
Washingtonia will require only three or four weeks.
Others like the Butia will take from two to four months.
There are known instances of seeds sprouting after three
Whatever container is used for the seeds should have
holes or cracks in the bottom for drainage. The soil
should be kept moist but not wet. Complete drying out
should be avoided because intermittent soaking and dry-
ing prevents germination. On the other hand too much
moisture causes "damping off."
Seedlings may be potted when an inch or so high. It
is advisable to 'do so before too much rootage has
formed. Potting soil that will give good results can be
made of a mixture of sod and manure that is well de-
In planting Coconuts, the nuts are placed on their sides
and buried only about y2 of their thickness, leaving the
upper half fully exposed. Again the ground must be kept
moist. Germination requires from one to five months. The
Coconut may be transplanted when the leaf reaches a
height of about one foot, even if there are few or no
Palms like organic fertilizer. Cottonseed meal, ground
steamed bone meal, tankage, blood, guano, fish scraps
and manures are good. These are best planted with the
new Palm but may be used in combination in early spring.
From 10 to 25 pounds of such fertilizer may be used-
being scattered under the leaf spread.
Commercial fertilizers in the proportion of 4-6-8
also meet the requirement of Palms. This may be used in
quantities of from two ounces for very small plants to 15
pounds for large trees. In northern Florida, two applica-
tions per year should be given, one in late winter or early
spring and the other in mid-summer. Further south,
where growing is continuous, a third application in late
summer or early fall is advisable.
Fertilizer may be applied broadcast under the leaf
spread, but if Palms are planted in lawns, "plugging" is
advisable. This is done by making holes (with a crowbar
or like instrument). The holes should be about one foot
deep and two feet apart some distance from the trunk of
the tree. These are filled with fertilizer and then closed.
'Some Palms, such as the Cocos plumosa, suffer from
a frizzly condition which is identified as a manganese
deficiency. The first symptom to appear is the lack of
color in the leaves. This is followed by a frizzling and
final death of the leaf. One treatment a year of man-
ganese sulfate is usually sufficient to restore the tree. The
dose suggested is one half to six pounds of 65 per cent
manganese sulfate per plant, depending on size of the
Other Palms showing symptoms similar to the Cocos
are: Royals Gru-Gru, Fish Tail and Chinese Fan Palms.
The similarity of symptoms suggests manganese treat-
ment on other species.
Acroromia totai . . 35
Actinophloeus macarthuri 44
Adonidia merrillii . .. 37
African Oil Palm . 46, 47
Alexandra . . . 49
Alexandria King Palm 38, 39
A. alexandrae ....... 38, 39
A. cunninhamiana . . 38
Areca cathecu . . .. 32
Areca Palm ....... 32, 33
A. romanzoffianum . 16, 17
Arenga saccarifera . 48
Australian Palm . 38, 39
Bamboo . . . . .. 59
Bamboo Palm .... 32, 33
Bambusa multiplex . . 59
Banana . . . ... .58
Betel Nut Palm ....... .32
Bottle Palm . . . 20
Broad Leaf Lady Palm ... 45
Butia capitata . . .36
Cabbage Palm . . .. 10
Canary Island Date Palm 21
Cane Palm . . .. 32, 33
Carolina Palm . . .. 10
Caryota mitis ...... 42, 43
Caryota ureus . . 42, 43
Chinese Fan Palm . .. 34
C. Intescen . . 32, 33
Cliff Date Palm . . .. 22
Cluster Palm . . . 32, 33
Coconut Palm .. . 18, 19
Cocos australis ...... .36
Cocos nicifera.... 18, 19
Cocos plumosa . .. 16, 17
Cocothrinax argentata . 41
Coontie . . . . .. 53
Cycas circinalis . . .. 52
Date Palm ..... 24, 25
Dwarf Palm ....... 28, 29
Flaeis g"inc.nsis ... Aq, A7
Feather Palm . 16, 17
Fern Palm ......... 52
Fish Tail Palm 42, 43
Gru-Gru Palm .... .. 35
Thatch Palm . . . .
India Date Palm .. . .. 23
Jaggery Palm . . . 42, 43
Jelly Palm . . .. 36
King Palm . . . 38, 39
Livistona chinensis . . 34
MacArthur Palm . . . 44
Manila Palm .. ... 37
Mascarena lagenicaulis . 20
Pandanus veitchii . 54, 55
Paurotis wrightii . . . 9
Petticoat Palm . 13, 14, 15
Phoenix canariensis 15, 21
Phoenix dactylifera .24, 25
Phoenix reclinata . 26, 27
Phoenix rupicola . 22
Phoenix sylvestris . . . 23
Phyllostachys aurea . . 59
T;f.ahpfon Pilm ..... .. 38
Pineapple Palm . . . 21
Ptychosnerma elegans . 49
Piemy Date Palm . .. 28, 29
Queen Palm . . . 16, 17
R madagascariensis . 56, 57
Rhapis excelsa ...... .45
Royal Palm . . . 30, 31
Rovstonea elata ..... 30, 31
Sabal palmetto ..... 10
Saw cabbage ....... 9
;aw pP1metto ...... .12
Screw Pine .... 54, 55
Senegal Date . . . 26, 27
Seforthia . . . .. 49
Seminole Bread . . ... 53
Seforthia elegans . . . 49
-erenoa reDens ....... .12
Silver Palm . . . . 41
Solitaire Palm . .. 49
Spindle Palm . . . .. 20
Slgar Palm . ..... 48
Swamp Cabbq e ..... 10
Thrinax parviflora . . 40
Toddv Palm . . .. 42, 43
TrRvelers Tree ....... 56, 57
Veitchia merrillii . . .. 37
Washingtonia Palm 13, 14, 15
W. roh-sta . . 13, 14, 15
Wine Palm ....... .42, 43
Yellow Butterflv Palm 32, 33
Zamia integrifolia . . 53
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