Serpentine soil

Discussion in 'PALM TREES - WHERE TROPICAL STARTS' started by palmnerd, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. palmnerd

    palmnerd Well-Known Member

    I was wondering if any of the Palmpedia folks have either worked with palms requiring, or tried to create an analog for serpentine soil. Is a good analog even possible? Maybe someone has some advice on growing palms that come from serpentine soil. I have done a little reading on this complex and slightly toxic soil, but have not been able to find amendments for plants that might prefer this type of soil. I have some Coccothrinax moaensis due to germinate in a few weeks and am trying to think of how to set them up media wise. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
  2. bepah

    bepah Active Member

    Brentwood CA 9b
    In California, the Klamath River Basin has this type of soil. Perhaps you might find a supplier in that area and have some shipped? It might be better than trying to create an analog for soil so depleted in what we normally consider essentail nutrients.

    Would the C. moaensis do poorly in soil that has a better level of nutrition?
  3. palmnerd

    palmnerd Well-Known Member

    Hi John, With regard to the moaensis, my first thought is that it would perform poorly in healthy nutrient complete soil. The serpentine palnt community has "learned" to make use of other metals and minerals to feed themselves. There is even an effort to use these plants to clean up toxic soil that humans have created.
    The little bit of info that I can garner indicates this plant comes from an area of Cuba where the serpentine matrix is pretty laden with metals. The one habitat description Toby at Rarepalmseeds gives, is that there is a nickel mine within the range of this palm. I think by default I may see if moaensis can take my compost\potting-soil medium. But I also plan to try a couple of approaches. I know some of the New Caledonia palms come from these soils and I haven't read of any conflicts with these plants and "normal" soil. There are a few good reads on serpentine soil from that part of California, on various web pages.
  4. LJG

    LJG Active Member

    I have many Cuban and New Cal plants that come from these Serpentine soils. I asked a few years ago about how to mimic these to help these plants adapt and grow in my DG in SoCal. A great tip was passed by Clayton and Mikey in Australia. They know their palms. They said to get some cement and smash it up. I went and bought a few bags from Home Depot, watered them, waited a few days to harden, then sledge hammered them. I then throw large chunks into the planting holes. Over the years the cement will leach lime. I have some plants going on two years and seem to really respond. No idea if it is the cement trick or not.
  5. palmnerd

    palmnerd Well-Known Member

    We have a similar practice here in Florida. We get karst limestone chunks and palnt the Coccothrinax, Thrinax and some Copernicia on top of varying sizes of rocks. Maybe I should look into the ph scale of serpentinite\ultrafamic rock verses the mogote\karst rock found in these locations. I will commit some of the seedlings to the practice you suggested and I will report back results. Thanks for your input, LJG!
  6. palmnerd

    palmnerd Well-Known Member

    If anyone is interested in this subject I managed to find a good article in the Journal Palms Vol. 49 (2) June'05, called The Genus Coccothrinax in Cultivation by Migliaccio and Reyes. It offers some good insight into culture for these palms. There is a brief mention of serpentine soil, with one possible means of satisfying the needs of palms from that type of soil. I am still interested to know if anyone in the wide world is working to come up with a commercial product to meet the needs of serpentine plants.

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