May 5, 2015

Talipot Palm--Up Close

A Talipot Palm Up Close....
VERY Close


Getting Up Close to a Talipot Palm
photo courtesy of Craig Morell


Last week, staff members from Pinecrest Gardens and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden had the rare opportunity to see a Talipot Palm up close. With the generous support of a well-equipped tree company, we got a chance to get into the crown of the palm, yielding photos and data that would otherwise be difficult to get. What we saw was a rare view of the largest plant inflorescence in the world, a giant bloom stem containing hundreds of thousands of flowers. What I saw was both amazing and of concern; most of the flowers had been pollinatedHorticulturists usually celebrate good pollination on a rare plant, but in this case, since the seeds are the size of golf balls, the prospect of having many thousands of large seeds gives me some concern ! The blizzard of small flowers was quite a sight to see, and the complexity of the inflorescence was equally amazing, with a magnitude of size unlike anything in our environment.     

The Talipot Palm crown from 20 feet away
photo courtesy:  Craig Morell
The palm has a huge inflorescence, over 20 feet tall, but it will die off in the next year or two. We would expect the palm to die completely in 2-3 years, but in the short term, we will look to harvest hundreds or thousands of seeds for distribution.    


                                                                                photo courtesy:  Craig Morell
                      Talipot Palm flower stem,
          with thousands of pollinated flowers 

 As we moved closer and closer to the palm crown, we could see the extraordinary activity of pollinators still searching for open flowers. There are still a few flowers open on the flower stem, but most of the flowers were pollinated, ready for the next step in life--maturing into seed. The seeds will take several months to germinate, and up to 3 years to grow enough large enough with sufficient foliage to transplant into the ground. We hope that residents, land owners and landscape companies might take advantage of this bounty of about 4 years....
Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens