by John Kennedy from The Palmateer Vol.IV, 2000
OK, what is it? I have driven past Coconuts, an upscale lawn and patio furniture store, many times. I noticed a palm out front that seemed unusual but I was always on my way somewhere else. Besides, it is sometimes imprudent to slow down on SR 60 in Vero Beach; drivers on one’s bumper are unappreciative. Eventually I stopped to get a close-up look: the palm seemed familiar, as if I ought to know, but I couldn’t name it. Central Floridians are often at a loss in identifying crownshaft palms since we have so few; they tend to be too tender to grow in this area beyond the next freeze. (OK, folks, it’s been almost 11 years since the Great Christmas Freeze of 1989, but we fear every winter that our luck may run out.)
Noted palmophiles Ed Carlson and Mike Dahme admitted they were stumped. I think we all agree that it’s a species-whatever it is– more likely to have originated Down South (Palm Beach, Broward, or Miami-Dade Counties) and unlikely to be seen so far north as semi-Arctic Vero Beach.
Coconuts co-owner Ann Clement doesn’t know what it is (“But isn’t it pretty!”) and put me in contact with the landscaper. The landscaper didn’t know the palm’s identity either, but insisted that she had dug it up elsewhere on the property and re-planted it. Prior to renovation suitable for selling pretty things for the patio, I dimly recall a dismal building offering (I believe) lawnmower repairs. Ms. Clement thinks that there is another individual of the same species on the barrier island at a site where she is working on a decoration job and says she will find out what it is. We can hope that the property owner knows.
Now, all you palm nuts out there can feel free to contact me with your identification.
NOTE: Coconuts has changed its name to The Blue Dog; its owner is now Pamela Tan.