ONLINE STUDY PALMS AND CYCADS
Learn how to Grow and Use Palm and Cycad Plants
- A correspondence course for the enthusiast or commercial grower.
- Study anytime, at your own pace, from anywhere
Palms are a very important group of plants, primarily throughout the tropics, but also extending into cooler areas.
There are some palms which will even grow very well in temperate climates. There are palms growing successfully in cooler places throughout the world, including Tasmania, England, Canada and Cape Cod in the USA. Many palms however are not particularly hardy to the cold, and will be injured by temperatures approaching freezing point. In temperate climates, palms are also often grown as indoor plants.
There are 8 lessons in this course:
Selecting Suitable Palms and Cycads
Pests and Diseases of Palms and Cycads
Using Palms and Cycads
Commercial Applications For Palms & Cycads
Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
Distinguish between the characteristics of different types of palms and cycads.
Determine general cultural practices, including propagation, for growing palms and cycads.
Choose palms and cycads to suit different climatic situations.
Determine treatments for palms and cycads suffering various health problems.
Specify appropriate landscape applications for palms and cycads.
Explain different commercial applications for palms and cycads.
Palms May be Grown Wider than you think
Palms and cycads look similar, but they are in fact very different. Cycads are a much more primitive plant which does not produce flowers, and is more closely related to a pine tree than a palm.
Palms are a very important group of plants, primarily throughout the tropics, but also extending into cooler areas. There are some palms which will even grow very well in temperate climates. There are palms growing successfully in cooler places throughout the world, including Tasmania, England, Canada and Cape Cod in the USA. Many palms however are not particularly hardy to the cold, and will be injured by temperatures approaching freezing point. In temperate climates, palms are also often grown as indoor plants.
One of the hardiest palms is the Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix). Once established, it is reported hardy to temperatures as low as minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit. It does still like the heat of summer though.
Some other particularly hardy palms are:
- Nannorrhops ritchiana - survives zero degrees F when established
- Phoenix canariensis - mature specimens grow well in Sydney, Melbourne and parts of Tasmania.
- Sabal minor - survives zero degrees F when established
- Sabal palmetto (cabbage palm) - survives to 5 degrees F (maybe lower) when established
- Trachycarpus fortunei (windmill palm) - are grown successfully in northern British Colombia (Canada)
- Trachycarpus - several other species will survive low temperatures
- Washingtonia filifera - there are mature specimens growing well in southern Victoria (Australia), where temperatures can drop below freezing.
What are Palms?
Two different names can be used Palmae (the older classification) or Arecaceae (the newer classification); the palm family is known by either or both of these; though many experts may insist only one is accurate, you should be aware of both as synonymous words.
The family has 210 genera and 2,780 species (Ref. Hortus)
Members of the Arecaceae (Palmae) family are ancient plants that date back to the Cretaceous period (85 million years ago). Most palms grow in rainforests (around 2/3rd of all species) as forest canopy plants, as intermediate plants living below the canopy and some live on the forest floor. Some very hardy species live in dry open Savannah grasslands (with permanent underground water) others live in mountain regions of the Himalayas and Afghanistan where they are covered with snow each winter.
Arecaceae plants are woody, perennial, monocotyledons, with either solitary trunks or a clumping growth habit. They mostly grow with erect, single trunks but some species are prostrate (growing along the ground for example Elaeis oleifera, Serenoa repens). Some have a leaning or creeping habit such as Chelyocarpus repens. Others such as Elaeis oleifera creep at the base becoming erect at the top. Some such as Serenoa repens are clumping but also usually prostrate; some are without trunks eg. Raphia regalis. Variations in trunk habit also occur within a genus or even a species.
They are all easily identified - the leaves appear in a distinctive crown of palmately or pinnately compound leaves with caryota being binnate. Leaves may be dense or few; large and long or short depending on the species. They have adventitious roots at the base. Much confusion occurs amongst amateurs identifying between cycads and palms.
Flowers are either unisexual or bisexual (produced on the same or separate plants). The flowers are usually individually small, but are often extremely showy en-masse. Sepals and petals usually occur with 3 in each whorl, but sometimes 2 and sometimes more than 3. Stamens are often 6, sometimes 3 but can be up to over 200 in a flower.
What are Cycads?
Cycads look like palms, but are in fact more primitive plants; that do not have flowers. Cycads in fact are more closely related to conifers, and produce seed in a cone, like a conifer.