Washington, D.C. is famous for its cherry blossoms, but someday it could also be renowned for its palm trees. That’s according to a new study looking at how palm trees are expanding into northern parts of the world that have long been too cold for the iconic tropical trees.
There are over 2,500 species of living palm trees, and while the vast majority of them survive only in tropical climates, some are more hardy and can grow in places that regularly get snow. As climate change warms the planet, countless plants and animals are migrating into new habitats made more suitable for their survival. Palm trees are no different.
The study, published in Nature’s Scientific Reports, found that a palm tree’s latitudinal limit is determined by the average temperature of a region’s coldest month. If that average is above 2 degrees Celsius, or 36 degrees Fahrenheit, the palm may be able to successfully propagate in the wild. According to Tammo Reichgelt, a Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory researcher who led the study, this means that at an average of 34 degrees Fahrenheit in January, Washington, D.C. is just a little too cold to host palm trees, “but that you can expect range expansion in the coming decades as average winter temperatures warm up.”
Looks like the National Arboretum might need to make room for some new species.
Average January temperatures in slightly farther south Norfolk, Virginia, and Greenville, North Carolina, have not dropped below 36 degrees Fahrenheit in January since the 80s, according to the study—long enough for a palm to grow to maturity.
“But if that is actually the case also depends on other factors, such as the presence of cultivars and the amount of competition with the natural vegetation,” Reichgelt said. “I would love to see the data that shows how the range of palmettos has changed in eastern North America, or fan palms in California, but unfortunately I do not have that data.”
Ice coats trees, palm trees and a lamp post at the popular Broadway at the Beach tourist attraction in Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 as a winter storm moves through South Carolina.Image: AP Photo/Bruce Smith Advertisement
Reichgelt told Earther that for many palm lineages, the average temperature of a place didn’t matter as much as the yearly temperature range. This could also impact the ability of palm trees to thrive in certain tropical locales as they face increased heat driven by climate change, which “could be detrimental to palms in those places.”
Palm trees grow very quickly and thus their cells cannot go dormant in winter. They are also very aesthetically appealing, and when people plant them in non-native areas it allows the palms to potentially establish new strongholds in the wild. Reichgelt said that in Florida alone there are seven “category 2” invasive palm species that were introduced as ornamental plants but have since established healthy wild populations. For now they are co-existing with native flora, but eventually they could become “category 1” invasives if they begin to harm or displace local vegetation.
Advertisement (a) Image of Rhopalostylis sapida, occurring at the limits of its native range on the West Coast of South Island, New Zealand. (b) Recorded geodetic coordinates for palm occurrences worldwide. Blue circles indicate recorded occurrences that were eliminated by manual filtering and red indicate the occurrences used in this study.Graphic: Scientific Reports ISSN 2045-2322
David Greenwood, a paleobotanist from Brandon University who also worked on the study, said the authors wanted to see how cold some palms could go. Greenwood told Earther that the Chinese windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) is especially cold hardy, and is commonly cultivated for this reason. Windmill palms have recently been found in the forests of southern Switzerland—the foothills of the Alps—after one such decorative palm escaped and spread “simply because frost is not as prevalent as it used to be,” according to the study.
Greenwood said for a palm to colonize a new region, its seedlings must be able to survive their first winter.
“So just because you can grow a windmill palm or another cold-tolerant palm in your yard in Utah, British Columbia, or Ohio, doesn’t mean that species can colonize the nearby woods,” he said. “But this is of course changing as the climate gets warmer.”
Greenwood said parts of the Northeast, Northwest, and neighboring areas of Canada are close to a winter climate that could allow cold-tolerant palms to become established.
“In all of these areas palms in people’s gardens are flowering and setting fruit, which means the temperatures are now warm enough for that step in their reproduction,” he said. “A little bit more warming will see their seedlings survive winters.”
- Meaningful Palm Tree Symbolism
- Palm Tree Symbolism
- Palm Tree Meaning & Symbolism
- Palms Symbolic Meanings
- Placement of Palm Tree Tattoos
- Palm Tree Symbolism
- Palm Tree Design Ideas
- Choosing Your Tattoo
- 8 Little-Known Facts About Palm Trees
- Palm trees have an ancient history
- One type of palm tree can grow up to 197 feet high!
- Palm trees have either palmate or pinnate leaves
- Palm trees provide many food staples
- People make wine out of palms
- Over 2500 species of palm trees exist today
- Not all plants called “palms” are trees or even palms!
- The largest seed of any plant in the world is made by a palm tree!
- Palm Tree Information
- Leaves and Trunks-Palm Tree Information
- You might like these
- Palm Tree Dropping Fronds: Can You Save A Palm Tree Without Fronds
- Can You Save a Palm Tree Without Fronds?
- Reviving Dying Palm Trees
Meaningful Palm Tree Symbolism
And so, we see this scenario with symbolic eyes: The erect, towering trunk representing the phallus – male power rising into action – followed by a flowering, expansive fireworks display of long supple leaves nestling an offspring of rich, nutritious fruits. Beautiful symbolism, isn’t it? This is a snapshot of how our forbears viewed the palm, and why it is an icon for fertility and unification.
In alchemical traditions, the palm tree is a symbol of androgyny as it possesses the perfect integration of both male and female attributes. This is an alchemical achievement – to be wholly, pristinely balanced – equally united with polarity.
This androgynous concept plays out in the esoteric archetype of the High Priestess found in the Tarot. Indeed, the palm tree is depicted in this card and here demonstrates the intent of the Priestess to amalgamate the realms of seen and unseen – mixing them into a whole vision with a goal to dispense for the betterment of humanity.
To Assyrians and Egyptians the palm is considered a tree of life. It was sacred to Ishtar and Ashtarte as well as to Nut and Hathor. These deities utilized the palm tree nectars to keep the dead in a semi-animated state while they awaited their fate in the Underworld. Sometimes the fruit of the palm would keep these souls in this state of undead forever. The date palm is also associated with the sun god Ra, as a resurrection figurehead.
Palm Tree Symbolism
Palm Tree Meaning & Symbolism
When we think of palm trees, most of us see sandy beaches and sunny skies. This is somewhat true to form, as the palm tree is one of the solar symbols. Like other solar symbols, the palm tree is bold and represents many strong characteristics.
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Truth, honor, valor, and expansion are only a few, but they are quite crucial to this towering giant’s symbolism. As a solar symbol, most of the palm’s traits are masculine in nature. However, it also bears fruit, making it equally feminine. Thus, we have a perfectly balanced unity and integration of genders and characteristics.
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This is the first of several ways that the palm tree symbolism also represents great achievements, for to have such a pristine balance between the genders and their respective traits is quite an achievement.
Palms Symbolic Meanings
The height of palm trees plays a large part in their symbolism and interpretation. Because they are so tall, they stand above most other things, having a better view point. For us, this means that we must consciously try to achieve a higher vantage point in life, especially when we encounter challenging situations.
Palm tree meanings tell us that we should aspire to achieve more by clearly defining our goals, spotting opportunities, and reaching for the stars in order to accomplish our dreams. Some of the spiritual attributes pertaining to the palm tree symbolic meanings include freedom, righteousness, reward, resurrection, returning happily from a journey, and victory.
In the realm of love and relationships, palms certainly symbolize fertility. The trunk or spine of palms are erect, making them an obvious phallic symbol. Conversely, the fruits of these trees represent the female ovaries.
Additionally, the long, thin, and tall palm tree makes a clear candidate for a symbol of longevity because of its height and its ability to produce fruit for many years. Palms are thus also considered to be symbols of good luck.
Historically, they marked the path for heroes returning home from a battle, lucky to have survived and prevailed. There, the palms served as a symbol to welcome home and an assurance of safety.
Palm Tree: Kabbalah Symbol
Many cultures, religions, and philosophies regard the palm as symbolic for different reasons. The Qabalah cites the palm tree as an icon for all of Judea after Moses and the Exodus from Egypt. In this story, Moses frees the Jews, who had been kept in slavery by the Egyptian pharaoh for centuries. Considering this story, the palm tree is symbolic of triumphing over adversity. It inspires all of us to remember the inner strength that we posses and encourages us to fight the good fight until we prevail.
Palm Tree: Christian Symbolism
In the Christian faith, the height of the palm tree symbolism comes back into relevance. It is a symbol of the resurrection of Christ. Also, the fronds of palms were used frequently throughout the New Testament, specifically when Christ walked into Jerusalem.
Palm Tree: Tarot Symbolic Meanings
Followers of the Tarot see the palm paired with the High Priestess, which is interpreted as being representative of the importance of balance, unification, and the awakening of true wisdom. The Priestess serves to integrate the seen and unseen and make it comprehensible for “lesser beings” who do not possess the same gifts. She mixes both sides into a single, whole vision that benefits all of humanity and nature.
Palm Tree Meanings In Asian Cultures
Across several Asian cultures, palms are also valuable symbols of renewal. It is deemed as the holder of the nest of the phoenix, a creature that is revered for its messages of metamorphosis, rebirth, and renewal in the ashes of the fire.
Palm Tree: Dream Symbols
Lastly, encountering palm trees symbols in our dreams can also be significant. While we slumber, palm trees as symbols can speak to us of our ability to rise above conflict, being the bigger person, and achieving success even during difficult times.
We must strive to be conscious of the trivial, petty things in life and rise above them like the colossal palm. A dreamt palm tree may also be informing us that we need to resurrect certain aspects of ourselves, aspects that we have allowed to become dormant. We must nurture each of our parts in order to be whole.
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Palm tree tattoos are a popular choice for those seeking a tree tattoo design. As with any tattoo, the meaning behind the design choice can have personal significance, as well as a historical or cultural meaning.
Placement of Palm Tree Tattoos
A single palm tree tattoo makes an interesting tattoo by itself or as an element incorporated into a more complex design. Due to the elongated design, palm trees can be used to tattoo various parts of the body depending on the size of the tattoo. For instance, a small palm fits nicely on the ankle or wrist while a larger rendition can ink an entire leg or be part of a more complex design that covers the back. Other popular placement ideas include the foot, ribcage and arm. They are also a popular choice for women getting a shoulder tattoo.
Palm Tree Symbolism
The palm tree design is unique with its slender trunk. Foliage is different than any other tree and can vary from one type of palm tree to another, which opens the range of variations available. Among palm tattoos, the ancient date palm is also known as the Tree of Life, a tattoo thought to represent immortality and eternity. Along with that line of thinking, palm trees are thought to represent the Garden of Paradise and often represent wisdom and goodness and palm branches or fronds are considered in some beliefs to be a symbol of God.
The singular nature of the palm tree also lends itself to mean a number of things on a personal level. For example, if your tattoo includes one lone tree it can represent a time feeling alone or abandoned. How the tattoo incorporates a palm with other elements will influence the meaning. For instance, add a skull to the lonely palm and it could be taken to symbolize a lonely death. Add cherubs or flowers with a single palm tree and it can represent a sense of goodness and a connection with heaven, in much the same way Solomon used these symbols to decorate the temple walls.
Palm trees don’t always represent being alone; they also represent the laid-back lifestyle known as “island life” and are a popular choice for people who live in Florida, California and Hawaii, as well as other tropical locations. In these cases palms are a way to show cultural pride or a link to their home state.
Palm Tree Design Ideas
If you don’t have a palm tree design in mind, ask your tattoo artist to show you any number of designs. These tattoos can be applied in vibrant black, warm earth tones, citrus colors or tropical colors easily incorporated with other natural elements such as birds, a sunset, the sea, dolphins, surf boards, the beach and other imagery.
- A black tribal palm tree design
- Palm tree combined with a phoenix to represents resurrection and immortality.
- Two palms intertwined to represent eternal love.
- A lion and palm tree symbolizing resurrection and immortality.
Choosing Your Tattoo
A variety of palm tree tattoo designs are available; their natural beauty and symbolic meanings make them a perfect element as a stand alone tattoo or an element to be incorporated into a larger piece. Take one of these designs and make it your own. If you want a unique design with special meaning to you personally, talk with your tattoo artist about your ideas and have them draw up a mock of the design before you get inked. Once the design meets your expectations, you’ll be ensured a unique, customized tattoo that’s just what you want.
8 Little-Known Facts About Palm Trees
When I think about palm trees, I imagine a a tropical beach with warm breezes blowing through the trees’ spiked fronds. The rustling sound the wind makes as it blows through the branches is so relaxing. It’s such an inviting scene that makes me long for those warm, ocean breezes; especially this time of year when it seems like Winter will never end!
Keep that scene in your mind while we go through some unusual, lesser-known palm tree facts!
Palm trees have an ancient history
Palm tree history can be traced back over 5000 years to Mesopotamian times. It was used as a food source, for constructing tools and dwellings and shade from the hot desert sun. It’s even thought that the date palm is responsible for the growth of the human population! Romans used palm branches as a symbol of victory, while it represents peace and plenty in Judaism and Christianity.
One type of palm tree can grow up to 197 feet high!
Columbia’s national tree, the Quindio Wax Palm, is the tallest of the species. It’s native to the tropical forests of Northern Peru and the Andes of Columbia. Of main importance is its use as a habitat for many animal species, including the endangered yellow-eared parrot.
Palm trees have either palmate or pinnate leaves
Pinnate leaves are feathery fronds that grow along each side of a stem, while palmate leave grow out, like fingers on a hand, from the end of the stem. Many other plant species also share palmate or pinnate leaves in one variation or another.
Palm trees provide many food staples
Everyone knows that coconuts come from palm trees. But, you may not know that palm trees also provide us with acai fruit, dates, betel nuts and oil.
People make wine out of palms
It seems like wine can be made out of just about anything! Palm wine, or Kallu, is commonly made in regions of Africa and Asia. It can be made from several types of palms, including date palms, coconut palms and the Chilean wine palm!
Over 2500 species of palm trees exist today
Palm trees come from the Arecaceae plant family. They are found in both arid regions and tropical rainforests around the world. The needle palm is one type of the species that is so hardy it can even be grown in Alaska!
Not all plants called “palms” are trees or even palms!
Palms can grow in the form of trees, shrubs and even woody vines! Popular plants such as the yucca palm and sago palm are not a part of the Arecaceae family, so they are not palms at all!
The largest seed of any plant in the world is made by a palm tree!
The seeds of the Coco de Mer palm tree are huge! They can weigh over 60 pounds and be up to 20 inches in diameter!
Although there may appear to be an enormous number of palms on Earth, the reality is that up to 100 species of this tree are on the endangered list. Unsustainable cultivation practices, like those for gathering hearts of palm which are taken from a part of the tree that can’t re-grow, and deforestation are the two biggest dangers for these trees. One type of palm, the Hyophorbe amaricaulis, is the most rare. There is only one left in the world and resides at the Botanic Gardens of Curepipe in Mauritius.
Palm Tree Information
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Here’s some palm tree information you may not know.
Palms are a member of the evergreen group. Why?
They don’t lose their leaves in any particular season.
When you think about evergreen, does pine or cypress come to mind?
You are probably used to “evergreen” being any kind of pine tree. If you think about it does make perfect sense.
All palms prefer in either tropical, sub-tropical or desert climates.
Most require the heat but there are a couple of varieties that have adapted to colder temperatures.
Some can even take snow.
Did you know that they are one of the most widely used trees on the planet for many different things.
There are multiple purposes indoors and outdoors.
Many are used in and plantations for harvesting the fruits they produce.
Leaves and Trunks-Palm Tree Information
Lets look at their leaves for a minute. There is a huge variety of sizes, shapes and textures.
They are either shaped like a feather or like a fan with a few variations and exceptions.
The leaves on coconut palms are huge. They must be at least 6-9 feet long, and when one decides to fall, it makes a ton of noise. Falling coconuts are bad enough.
Other families of trees have branches and then leaves.
The palm varieties don’t really have branches; It’s like their leaves are the branches.
There are a very few occasions when mother nature does something different. that did branch. An extreme rarity!
Palms, just like maple and pine trees-have a sort of scar- like the knot in the trunk where a branch has grown.
With palm trees every leaf that falls or is removed leaves a mark in the shape of a circle or semi circle. Trees (like the royal or bottle palm) with a crownshaft leave a ring all the way around.
On others there is a triangular or diamond looking scar left on the trunk giving it a similar appearance to a pineapple skin.
The biggest difference is that once you peel off the bark off a palm, the wood has no knot or ring imperfections below the bark unless there’s a wound.
When you saw through the trunk there aren’t any growth rings either.
Seeds and Fruit- Palm Tree Information
Some more palm tree information that I can speak about are the seeds and/or fruit of the various varieties.
The coconut tree is a great example of seeds a palm tree produces. You would think of it as fruit and not a seed, but if you took a coconut to the edge of the beach and planted it, a new tree would soon start to grow.
Some friends did exactly that in Barbados. When they first bought their vacation home there weren’t any palm trees by the beach at all.
Over a couple of years they grabbed some fallen coconuts from around the area and planted them.
It’s been quite a few years now, but now there are at least 50 coconut trees near or on the beach giving the visitors some much needed shade.
A couple of other great, well know fruit producers are the date palm and the Pindo or jelly palm.
There are even more health food products than you probably even knew about come from palm trees.
Roots -Palm Tree Information
Unlike the pines and maples, the palm tree has roots that aren’t very deep.
They don’t spread very far until they are quite old and large.
Some never do get big root balls making them some kinds easy to move even when they are full grown.
A great favorite is the royal palm its roots won’t punch through concrete to damage sidewalks or roadways.
Communities in the Caribbean use them often to line the streets.
They are highly flexible in the trunk, and the leaves might be big but they allow tons of wind to go thru them. ( I think the coconut variety is the king of flexibility.)
This helps the roots stay planted firmly in the ground.
There are very different than pines or maples that will uproot in hurricane force winds.
Notice how the trunks are bowed? These coconut palms are not very straight side to side or up and down.
See the large tangle of roots?
They don’t stretch out very far or deep but there are a lot of them and they have the same flexibility as the trunks do-but with a whole lot of griping power.
Left: palm roots after a tsunami. Trees might be gone but the roots are still holding.
There are even some members of the palm tree family that have subterranean trunk. All that sticks up out of the ground are the stems and leaves. The bush or scrub palms are generally in this category.
Some are classed as vines, like the group of rattan palms. Yes it is what rattan furniture is made from.
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Other articles you may find useful for more palm tree information:
Palm tree fruit explains about which ones are commonly eaten or used for other things.
Uses looks at all the many things the various parts of the palm are utilized.
Commercial palms goes thru the ones used in plantations, orchards and nurseries.
Background checks out just how far back in history the palm goes and what it symbolizes yesterday and today.
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Palm Tree Dropping Fronds: Can You Save A Palm Tree Without Fronds
Palm trees are quite hardy in their native ranges but problems can arise when these transplants are sited in regions that aren’t specifically adapted to their needs. Palms that live in areas with violent storms, cold snaps and even excessively wet winters can be prey to leaf loss. There are innumerable reasons for palm tree fronds falling off, from natural “cleaning” to damaging cultivation, disease and pest issues. If there are no fronds on palm tree, the plant may be in real trouble but it is possible to still save it.
Can You Save a Palm Tree Without Fronds?
Palms are notable for their air of tropical elegance and ability to conjure up warm trade winds and sandy beaches. In areas with hurricanes, it is common to find sickly looking trees which require special care to resurrect.
Reviving dying palm trees may take expert assistance depending upon the level of damage sustained by the plant. In cases where just some of the foliage has been killed, a palm has a good chance at thriving after a good rest and some excellent care. First, you should discover why you have palm tree fronds falling off and nip the cause in the bud.
Many palms, such as Washington palms, naturally replace their leaves. The Washington palm forms a skirt with its old leaves while others, such as Foxtail palms, will dispose of dead leaves. If you have a self-cleaning plant, it will naturally replace old fronds with new ones. The large old leaves littering the ground may worry you, but it is a natural process and as long as the tree has a full crown of foliage, nothing to stress about.
Every species of palm has a certain number of fronds it will produce in maturity. As new fronds form, old ones fall off. The balance of the perfect number of fronds is essential to the plant’s appearance and health. A palm tree dropping fronds and not replacing them could be a sign of a problem.
Storm Damage, Cold Injuries, Pests and Disease
Not all palms are tropical. Some are suited for desert settings, while others have remarkable cold tolerance. If you find palm tree fronds falling off after a heavy weather event, it is likely due to the fact that you do not have a hardy palm tree. Cold injured plants can lose all their leaves.
Additionally, wild winds (such as those in a hurricane) can tatter, shred and kill palm leaves. It is a good idea in hurricane prone areas to leave the old skirt of dead leaves to protect the trunk and crown of the plant.
Pests can cause damage to fronds. Scale insects are a classic problem. Their sucking feeding activity reduces the tree’s sap and can diminish health. A palm tree dropping fronds is the result in heavy infestations.
Diseases, such as root rot, affect the entire tree’s health with leaf loss the number one symptom. It is best to call in a professional if a disease is suspected.
Reviving Dying Palm Trees
With winter injured trees, wait until the weather warms before removing dead leaves. These will help protect the tree during the remaining cold months. As long as new leaves start to form after winter, the plant can survive but will need to be watched for any additional stresses.
When no fronds on palm trees are forming, start to get concerned. Without leaves, the plant cannot gather solar energy to turn into carbohydrates for fuel.
Be judicious about your pruning. Most palms don’t need severe pruning and removing leaves for the sake of beauty can actually be the cruelest cut of all regarding plant vitality.
Use a good palm fertilizer in spring and give the tree deep infrequent watering to enhance its health. One thing to note about damaged palms – if the core of the plant is mushy or heavily damaged, the plant is probably on its way out.
Be patient with any foliar loss. Over time the plant may regain its health and grow a new crown of foliage.