Greater Egret

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Bismarck Palm

I love palm trees and have long wanted to have a specimen of one of the most beautiful palms in the world, the bismarckia. This palm comes from the central highlands of Madagascar and is said to be one of the most hardy palms on the planet, second only to my most favorite palm, the jubaea chilensis, which actually grows in the snow in Chile.

Jubaeas - Mission Bay

If you have visited the San Diego Zoo, surely you have seen the marvelous blue gray specimens at the entrance. Mature, they are breathtaking, their fronds reaching from the ground at an odd singular angle like no other palm in the world. You can see great pictures of the Bismarckia nobilis at Phil Bergman's site here. Fallbrook's Grand Tradition also has some nice bismarcks on the grounds. Check out the outrageous pics of Bismarckia from near and far on this page. Amazing!

The following picture is of two mature specimens in Balboa Park near the Botanical House. Ed. That was then. 

This is now. 5/25/15 My wife Leslie is about 5'9". Palm is how big? She is standing over 20' from the trunk...

There are several color variations of this palm. The most popular is called silver select in the trade and is said to be the hardiest. It is known for its blue gray color, much like that of the brahea armata, commonly known as the Mexican Fan Palm.

I called around a few weeks ago and was directed by a palm aficionado to a fellow named Bill Early who has several palm nursery yards in the Sleeping Indian area of Fallbrook/Oceanside. Doug and I drove over and sussed the operation out one day last week and I bought two palms, both 20 gallon, slightly rootbound, gorgeous and in need of a good home.

One was a tall palm, he cautioned that it had undergone some stress, that the species are very root sensitive and it might soon lose its fronds, but it was big and pretty I had to give it a shot! It is of the greener or in between variety of color. I think it will be quite beautiful in my landscape. The smaller purchase was a silver select.

The truck showed up yesterday and squeezed into my driveway. Damn, they didn't look that big in the yard. A couple workers pulled it off the big truck which had wend its way down the narrow road into the canyon.

Bill told me to get it into the ground asap so I dug the holes last night and woke up at 6 and finished the job. Or should I say it almost finished me? Heavy suckers.

I'll take a picture of the blue one tonight and add it.

I have a big mexican blue that I might also move to the front of my home.

It is so beautiful but I stupidly planted it out of eyesight.
This is a picture of beautiful mexican blues in their native habitat. I have been to remote canyons near Guadalupe Hot Springs in Baja with hundreds if not thousands of them growing in the wild.

Will need a tractor and some men, the thing is huge. Both of these species' color really sets off the normal green color of the typical landscape.

The Bismarck palm can get really tall, it will go 75 feet in its native Madagascar. It is a pretty fast grower once it decides it is happy.

I hope that it can tolerate the cold of my river valley.

We have hit the 14 degree mark at my home and it is supposed to be only tolerant to the low 20's. Bergman says on his site that it can take 110 degrees heat which is near our upper reaches in Fallbrook. Will cross my fingers and hope for the best. We shall see.

Early is a busy guy, no nonsense but a good guy and he has a great nursery. I have my eye on a few other things over there as well. He has a great selection of rare cycads and some esoteric palms, marvelous examples of Livistona decipiens and some odd hybrid butias, jubaeas and queens. He has a yard on Burma he is vacating that might have some great clearance items next month. I'm not done.

Bismarck Palm #2 silver select

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