Garden palms: the Trachycarpus
Trachycarpus (about a dozen species) or Palma fortunes are medium-sized palms, originating in Asia; these palms have been used for millennia, to produce vegetable fibers from which to obtain resistant fabrics and cordage, for this reason it is difficult to understand what their original distribution area was centuries ago; today they are particularly widespread in the cool and mountainous areas of Asia. In Europe, the most widespread species is Trachycarpus fortunei, as it is a mountain palm, very resistant to low temperatures, and therefore can be grown in the garden also in Trento or in Aosta. They are grown in the ground, or in pots, and generally do not exceed 6-7 meters in height, even if in nature they can easily reach ten meters; they have large palmate fronds, carried by a long rigid petiole, without thorns, at the apex of which develops a fan-shaped leaf, made up of lanceolate segments, which are often joined together about halfway along it.
Characteristics of the Trachycarpus
THE trachycarpus they are always completely devoid of basal suckers or branches, and therefore develop a single thin trunk, with some fronds at the apex; they have a rather slow growth, and in general a specimen takes decades before reaching the maximum size. They are dioecious palms, so the female flowers and the male flowers are found on different plants; therefore, if we do not have at least two palms nearby, pollination cannot take place or even fruit production; the flowers bloom in large branched panicles, facing down, green or yellow. The fruits are oval, small, dark, brown or black. The leaves at the bottom tend to dry up over the years, falling naturally to the ground; on the stem, at the time of the fall, the fronds leave the base of the petiole, and some long dark fibers, similar to enormous hairs; over the years, the trunk of the trachycarpus it takes on a hairy and matted appearance. These hairs fall over time, allowing the woody trunk underneath to be seen; therefore, adult trachycarpus tend to have the thinnest trunk at the base, and widened to the top.
Grow fortunes palm
Fortune palms are easy to cultivate, but only in areas that have fairly cold winter seasons, and summers that are not excessively torrid or dry. They are palms suitable for growing in central and northern Italy, because they do not like the heat, and therefore we will hardly see a healthy and luxuriant trachycarpus in Sicily. Despite the exotic appearance, they are not plants that fear frost, on the contrary, the adult specimens can withstand temperatures close to -15 °, and even lower; they are cultivated in the garden, in a very bright area, even sunny, but possibly sheltered from the wind: the wind, hot or cold, tends to conspicuously ruin the fronds, or the decorative part of the plant. They prefer a fairly mild climate, therefore without great changes in temperature, both towards the heat and towards the cold; so generally if we live in an area with very hot summers, it would be advisable to place our fortune palm in an area sheltered from the sun during the hottest hours of the day, but still very bright. If our trachycarpus is very young, and has been in a few years, at the arrival of winter it is advisable to lightly protect it from frost, mulching the soil with barks, and covering the foliage and the stem with non-woven fabric. Watering must be regular, from March to September, insisting especially in the hot and dry periods; trachycarpus can withstand short periods of drought, but it is advisable to avoid leaving the ground very dry for prolonged periods of time. Let's place these palms in a cool and deep, quite well drained soil, so that the roots are not subject to water stagnation. At the end of winter, we spread around the plant a slow release granular fertilizer rich also in microelements, such as iron and calcium; let's use a quantity equal to half of that recommended on the package. The dried fronds of the trachycarpus tend to fall on their own; if they remain on the plant for a long time, it is advisable to remove them, cutting the petiole close to the stem, to prevent them from being vehicles of fungal diseases.
Fortune Palm: Fortune's Palms
The palms, also called Arecaceae, are very special plants, which in our imagination have a decidedly exotic appearance; they are in fact very characteristic plants of tropical climate zones, even if there are palms that develop in a great variety of climates, from that of the mountains of China, up to the warm climate of Madagascar or humid of the islands of the Indian Ocean. There are thousands of palm trees, and they are among the oldest and most widespread plants on earth. These are monocotyledonous herbaceous plants (or liliopsida, to use the modern nomenclature); they are not therefore trees, as their stem does not tend to develop in width over the years. All the palms have a similar development, most of them have an erect stem, not at all or poorly branched, which brings to the apex large pinnate or palmate fronds, arranged in a large rosette. The fronds are evergreen, but the development of the plant takes place progressively replacing the older fronds, placed at the bottom, laterally to the rosette, with new leaves, which are produced in the center of the rosette.
The flowers of the palms are characteristic, small, gathered in large panicles; the fruits, on the other hand, are very varied, some are berries, others are drupes, ranging from small dates to huge coconuts.
The great diffusion of these plants makes their cultivation practically possible everywhere, as there are palm trees that need tropical climates, others that love the fresh continental climate, others accustomed to an arid or semi-arid climate.