Friday, November 21, 2014

Palm Trees on the Alabama Gulf Coast

You will find many palm tree species on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Although some are native, others have been brought into the area. These are the palm trees that you might see here.

Canary Island Date Palm

The Canary Island date palm is an ornamental palm tree. Its massive size gives this tree a grandiose appearance. It can grow up to sixty feet tall. The incredibly thick trunk has a diamond pattern on it. The crown of the Canary Island date palm boasts more than fifty leaves. The leaves are between a foot and a foot and a half long. As the name implies, this palm tree was imported from the Canary Islands.

Canary date palms are at the right in the photo.

Gulf Shores Palm Trees

Windmill Palm

The windmill palm usually grows to be about twenty-five feet tall; however, specimens have been found as tall as forty feet. The fronds are between two and three feet in length with dark green leaflets. Windmill Palms can survive in the cold all the way down to five degrees.

Windmill palms are to the left in the photo.

Sago Palm

The Sago Palm is technically not a palm at all but a cycad. They are actually prehistoric trees. Fossils of this specimen have been dug up all over the world. They can grow to ten to twelve feet high with an eight to twelve feet spread; however, it can take up to fifty years for the tree to reach this size. The leaves are about four feet long and dark green in color. The sago palm prefers sandy soil that drains well.

Sago palms are in the foreground of the photo above.

Washingtonian Palm (Mexican Fan Palm)

The Washingtonian palm grow very tall, sometimes exceeding one hundred and twenty feet, though most that you will see will be no taller than forty feet. The trunk is thinner than most other varieties of fan palms. The Washingtonian palm’s fronds are a deep shade of green. They require a fair amount of maintenance and need to be trimmed annually. This palm tree is indigenous to the southern half of Baja California and northern parts of Mexico.

Pindo Palm

The pindo palm is one of the smaller palm trees as it only grows to about twenty feet tall. The bright green fronds have a feather-like appearance. The spring flowers eventually grow into orange fruits that resemble dates. The fruits are edible either fresh or as a jelly. They are native to South America where the fruit’s flesh is smashed and mixed with alcohol for a flavorful drink!

Sabal Palmetto (Cabbage Palm)

The sabal palmetto palm usually grows to be fifty to sixty feet tall and the trunk can be as much as two feet around. The fronds are between five and six feet long and each has approximately fifty leaflets on it. The pale yellow flowers develop into black fruits. The fruit is a good food source for birds and other wildlife. The sabal palmetto does well in salty conditions near the water.

Saw Palmetto

The saw palmetto is native to the Alabama Gulf Coast. It is a small fan palm that only grows between three and six feet tall. They usually grow in clumps and prefer the sandy soil of coastal areas or pine forests. The center of the frond has sharp spines that can easily tear your skin open. This shaft supports about twenty leaflets.

Needle Palm

The needle palm is a small fan palm that grows up to six feet tall. It doesn’t have a trunk; it has a crown from which the leaves grow. The crown expands slowly to allow more leaves to grow. The needle palm has a bush-like appearance. This palm is a native palm tree species. It is very cold hardy and has a high level of drought resistance