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When do Cocos Start to Trunk

Discussion in 'PALM TREES - WHERE TROPICAL STARTS' started by kenamac, Jan 22, 2010.

  1. kenamac

    kenamac Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    VT 3-4 GTC 9-10
    Hi Palm Folks, I'm in the Bahamas with my Green Turtle Cay palms and as I travel around the island I've noticed a lot of variability in the size of the tree and the amount of trunk they have, such that some Cocos nucifera form a trunk when the palm has a smaller crown than some that have no trunk. What is the biggest factor in trunk growth?

    Also I have 2 Bottle Palms that have ragged bases, but the ones I see in the ID books always have smooth trunks. Are mine not bottle palms?

    Here are some photos

    Thanks!
    Susan
     

    Attached Files:

  2. MattyB

    MattyB Moderator

    Messages:
    449
    Location:
    Spring Valley, CA
    Hi Susan, and welcome.
    We can't grow Coconuts here in California so I'll leave that to the tropical experts. But your other palm is indeed a Bottle Palm (Hyophorbe lagenicaulis). The old leaf bases will start to shed themselves as the palm gets older, leaving a nice clean trunk. If you want to, you can carefully cut them off using a utility/carpet knife and going around the circumference of the trunk removing the old leaf base where it attaches. Here's a pic of mine. Although it's still young I've cleaned up the leaf bases so that it has a nice clean trunk. We'd love to see more pics of your part of the world.
     

    Attached Files:

  3. palmnerd

    palmnerd Well-Known Member

    Hi Kenamac,
    I'm sure there are some that could give you a more precise answer but we can start with mine. The Cocos form or expression in the location you are seeing them is probably determined by basic nutrition and water availability. There are other factors such as cultivar type or dwarfism. Coconuts can live and even do well in rather austere conditions.
    As to the bottle question. The palms in the photos are bottles. They are just young and holding on to their boots (old leaf bases). Those will pop off as the plant ages and then the trunk will be smooth.
     
  4. Dypsisdean

    Dypsisdean Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    13,845
    Location:
    Big Island of Hawaii - Kona
    Unlike "trees" the trunks of most palms (there are a few exceptions-and I think a bottle is one) do not get larger once they are past the "growing point." The diameter it is when the leaves are removed or have fallen off, is pretty much it's final size. All things being equal, that is determined mostly by it's growing conditions. Two identical palms, will have different trunk sizes depending on how "happy" they are. And the established trunk will not get fatter if you make it happier.

    Coconuts are kinda in a class by their own, as there are so many different varieties. It is hard for the novice to tell between them, but the genetics in the case of Cocos will be a factor as well.

    You will find that us PalmNuts go crazy when we remove that first frond and find our first ring of trunk. From here, most palms pick up speed.
     
  5. kenamac

    kenamac Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    VT 3-4 GTC 9-10
    Thanks guys! Sorry for the slow come-back. I don't have very reliable internet here. Matty, I started to "trim the old leaf bases" today and they are really tough. I'm going to have to get new blade for my utility knife to finish the job! I'll try to get a photo of the finished product! (I started this email a couple of days ago and the job is now done; looks beautiful!)

    Dean, I'm a little confused about "us PalmNuts go crazy when we remove that first frond and find our first ring of trunk" The biggest Coco on the property is the one in the first picture was planted in 06. The tree is ~17 ft tall and the crown is ~17ft across, there are 13 -14 fronds. The base to where the fronds emerge is 4 ft. It's base including the fibrous material is 16" w at base at 4ft its 12"; the fronds themselves are about ~10'-12' long and ~4' wide at the widest, and the fronds disappear into the fibrous material. I’m assuming the trunk emerges from the bottom, below this fibrous mat. Is there any harm in pulling some of this away? We have taken a lot of photos of palms around the island and I’ll post some when I get back to the States.

    Thanks,
    Susan
     
  6. zeeth

    zeeth Active Member

    Messages:
    151
    That coco probably has some trunk below all that fiber. You could pull gently on it to see if it comes off, but don't pull too hard, or you may damage the trunk. If it doesn't come off with ease, give it some more time.
     
  7. Dypsisdean

    Dypsisdean Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    13,845
    Location:
    Big Island of Hawaii - Kona
    Susan,

    What I should have said more correctly is "when we remove that first leaf sheath." As Zeeth said, you never know what is underneath that frond and sheath. Until a palm starts trunking, it could be another sheath, or when we get excited is when we finally see the first signs of a trunk. Then every frond/sheath after that is a ring on the trunk.
     

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