Central Florida Palm & Cycad Society
The Central Florida Palm and Cycad Society (CFPACS) is affiliated with the International Palm Society, The Cycad Society and the Palm and Cycad Societies of Florida. We are a non-profit, non-partisan organization whose goals are to be in operation solely and exclusively for scientific and educational purposes related to the study of palms and cycads, their propagation, culture, conservation, care, and development. We assist in the preservation of all palm and cycad species for future generations as well as promote and maintain public interest in palms and cycads.
Our service area includes the following counties: Alachua, Brevard, Citrus, DeSoto, Flagler, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Lucie, Sumter, Suwannee, and Volusia.
Of course, we welcome folks from outside of our service area and have several dozen members, including about a dozen international members, who do not live in one of these counties.
Florida, with its warm and tropical climate, is a paradise for many species of palms and cycads. These plants are iconic to the state’s landscapes and are widely used in landscaping due to their aesthetic appeal and adaptability to the climate.
There are about 2,600 species of palm trees worldwide, and many of them thrive in Florida. Some of the most common types include:
Sabal Palm (Sabal palmetto): Also known as the cabbage palm, this is the state tree of Florida. It’s extremely hardy and can grow up to 60 feet tall.
Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera): Probably one of the most recognized palms, it thrives in South Florida and along the coastlines.
Royal Palm (Roystonea regia): Known for their elegance and grandeur, Royal Palms can reach heights of over 80 feet and are often used in formal landscapes.
Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera): These are large trees that can reach about 70 feet in height. They are cultivated for their sweet fruit as well as their ornamental value.
Florida Thatch Palm (Thrinax radiata): This is a Florida native, smaller in size, and suitable for smaller landscapes.
Cycads are one of the oldest groups of plants dating back to the prehistoric era. They are often mistaken for palms or ferns because of their large, feather-like leaves. Unlike palms, cycads are gymnosperms, meaning they have seed cones and do not flower.
Some common cycads in Florida include:
Coontie (Zamia integrifolia): This is the only cycad native to Florida. It is a low-growing plant, often used as a groundcover, and is highly drought-tolerant.
Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta): Despite the name, Sago “Palm” is not a palm at all but a cycad. It’s a popular landscape plant and can be grown in a container.
Cardboard Plant (Zamia furfuracea): This cycad gets its name from its thick, cardboard-like leaves. It’s drought-tolerant and prefers well-drained soil.
It’s worth noting that while palms and cycads add tropical appeal to Florida’s landscapes, some species can be toxic to pets. The seeds of Sago Palm, for example, are extremely poisonous if ingested. Therefore, if you have pets, it’s essential to choose your plants wisely.
CFPACS Announcements & News
CFPACS Winter Meeting
CFPACS held its Winter Meeting on December 8th in St. Petersburg.
First stop was Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum, where more than 100 additional palms have been planted in the last year. Kopsick is a City of St. Petersburg park on Tampa Bay north of downtown, with no fences and no admission charges. Along with routine city maintenance, it is tended, by volunteers, including member Phil Stager who led the group tour. About 30 palmateers attended the Kopsick tour.
The second stop was at the home of Rick Nale, where food and drink were consumed in great quantity by those attending. The feast included covered dishes brought by the attendees together with rotisserie chicken provided by CFPACS. Some new faces were seen in the afternoon party, many of them later signing up to become society members!
Of course, there was an auction and a plant sale led by Phil Stager (who did a fantastic job). As usual, no one appeared to leave empty-handed.
Thanks to Phil Stager and Rick Nale for leading the tour at Kopsick and a big thank you to Rick for hosting the afternoon event.
Florida Tech (FIT) Plant Sale, Melbourne, FL
When: Saturday, March 1
FIT garden info at www.facilities.fit.edu/botan.html.
Palm and Cycad Show and Sale sponsored by the South Florida Palm Society, Montgomery Botanical Center, Miami
Please note that Spring sales are now at Montgomery.
When: Saturday, March 15 9:30am – 4:30pm
Sunday, March 16 9:30am – 4:30pm
Location of Montgomery Botanical Center.
Annual Plant Sale at Leu Gardens , Orlando
When: Saturday, March 29 9am – 5pm
Sunday, March 30 9am – 5pm
More info at www.leugardens.org/events.html.
Annual Spring Plant Festival at University of South Florida Botanical Garden, Tampa
When: Saturday, April 12 10am – 4pm
Sunday, April 13 10am – 3pm
More info at USF Garden Calendar.
Seed Bank Public Sale Going on NOW!!!
CFPACS has decided to sell excess seeds from the seed bank to the general public. You don’t have to be a member to purchase seeds in a public seed offering.
Please go to the Public Sales page of the Seed Bank website area and look at what is available. Ordering instructions are at the bottom of the page.
East Coast Meeting Recap
The summer meeting of CFPACS took place on June 23rd, in Valkaria, Brevard County. Ron’s Sanctuary is the hideaway and creation of Ron Eward who, with Fiona Pearce, welcomed an unusually large turnout of 75. Rather than returning to an old, familiar place, members and friends came to a new and beautiful garden begun in 1998, though the plantings looked more mature than that relatively recent date.
A grassy slope from the back of the house runs down to Goat Creek, where a boardwalk paralleling the bank holds at its end an umbrella-covered table and chairs. To the west is a wooded area, a small peninsula surrounded by water, and looped with palm- (and cycad-) lined trails. Lots of food, after all this was also a picnic. A long auction came after the feed, not only donated plants but also seed that had not been offered in the previous weeks because of a vacancy in the seed bank. For members and visitors, a suitable ending was a careful search through the plants brought by the several vendors.
All in all, a delightful day: lovely place, delicious food, good company (the similarly obsessed).
CFPACS Fall Meeting, Indialantic/Merritt Island
When: Saturday, September 12
Where: Morning: Scott Ward’s garden in Indalantic; Afternoon: Cindy & Steve Rael’s in Merritt Island
Don’t miss this East Coast double garden tour! More details to follow soon.
CFPAC’s 2nd Annual Festival of Palms, FIT Botanical Garden, Melbourne
When: Saturday, October 24
More information to follow.
CFPACS HomeTown Grant Recipient
CFPACS is pleased to announce that Dave Floyd has been awarded the HomeTown Grant. The site of Dave’s project is the DeLaura Middle School in Satellite Beach, home to over 700 students. The school has started a garden club to involve students with the landscape, and is committed to revitalizing and maintaining the new plantings. Work has already begun to clear and prepare areas for the new palms.
One very interesting palm already resides on the campus – a two-headed Sabal palmetto (see photo on the right).
CFPACS is excited about this opportunity to show how palms can really beautify a landscape, especially in a setting that has so much exposure to the local community.
Congratulations, Dave on a well thought out project! We look forward to seeing your vision come to fruition.
It is not too early to begin thinking about the 2015 CFPACS HomeTown Grant. We will begin taking applications for the 2015 grant over the summer – perhaps you should apply!
Miami Meeting Recap (April 4)
21 CFPACS members made the trip down to Miami on April 4 to join with about 30 South Florida Palm Society members for a joint meeting at Montgomery Botanical Center and St. Thomas the Apostle Church.
St. Thomas Churc The day began at MBC with members planting a population of Roystonea oleracea grown from seed collected during MBC fieldwork in Trinidad and Tobago in 2007 . After planting the palms, members took a tour of the MBC palm collection led by MBC executive director Dr. Patrick Griffith. The time at MBC concluded with a barbecue prepared by SFPS members.
After lunch, several members continued on to St. Thomas the Apostle Church. The 22-acre church campus has several acres of gardens landscaped with ponds, waterfalls and tropical plants, and populated with rare and exotic birds. Members of both societies enjoyed meeting together for this very full day.