Saturday, June 7, 2003, Capital Area Master Naturalists were treated to a tour of Texas palms by Landon Lockett, a retired professor of linguistics who came to love our native palms after fighting to save them from destruction in Brazoria County.  He taught us about their distribution, their history , and how to tell natives from exotics.  And after the tour, he introduced us to a great Brazilian/Tex-Mex restaurant called Sampaio.   In attendance were Landon's wife Carol and their friends Debra (didn't get the last name) and Dr. Robert Harms.  From CAMN we had Melissa Burton, Jeri Porter, and from the Class of 2003 (Unofficial Motto:  "We are the class") Marianna Hobbs and Jack Smith, Mark and Carmen Keithly, Chris Masey and Amy Trost, and Tim Scoggins.

TheGang.jpg (147735 bytes) Debra took the picture.

We have two species of native palms in Central Texas, Sabal (pronounced say-bull) mexicana and Sabal minor (and perhaps a third that is a natural hybrid).  Landon showed us several examples of Sabal mexicana.  Distinguishing characteristics include:

SabalMexicana1.jpg (158095 bytes) SMFullMayfield1.jpg (204816 bytes) SMPease1.jpg (140600 bytes)

Sabal minor is distinguished by

SMinor1.jpg (120213 bytes)

We saw several Sabal mexicana in bloom:

SMexicanaBlooms2.jpg (166890 bytes) SMexicanaBlooms1.jpg (165741 bytes) SMPeaseBig1.jpg (225058 bytes) SMPeaseBig2.jpg (209470 bytes)

Several non-natives look similar to S. mexcana.  Washingtonia has stem spines and a thicker truck that is frequently ravaged by woodpeckers:

Washingtonia.jpg (187336 bytes) WashingtoniaSpines1.jpg (97683 bytes)

Sabal palmetto is damn (rhymes with CAMN) hard to tell from Sabal mexicana:

SPalmetto1.jpg (155226 bytes) The trunk is skinnier and the fruit is smaller (pea-size vs. olive-size).

Those are date palms down on 6th Street in front of GSD&M:

DatePalms1.jpg (186608 bytes) Dates1.jpg (143146 bytes)

Butia leaves are gray green, pinnate, as opposed to palmate, and the plant has only a short trunk:

Butia1.jpg (200025 bytes)

Sago palm, or cycad, which looks "sorta like a fern", is not a palm, or a fern:

SagoPalm.jpg (145473 bytes)

Landon provided us all with a handout summarizing everything we learned.  Thanks again, Landon;  this was a real treat.


posted by Tim Scoggins - 06/07/2003