P80221Three or four might be better than two. Perhaps that is what this queen palm was thinking when it decided to get extras.

This is not a good picture, and the tree is a bit too shaggy with old foliage to see what is going on inside clearly. To the left, a secondary limb is curving downward and away from the main trunk, before curving back upward as a secondary canopy. Another limb is developing immediately above this secondary canopy, and another is visible to the right of the main trunk. It is hard to say how many individual canopies are within the collective canopy of this single specimen.

What is weird about this development is that the popularly available palms do not form branches. Think of it. When was the last time you saw a palm tree with a limb or branches? Before you answer that, yuccas (such as Joshua trees) and dracaenas are not palms. Also, clumping palms like Mediterranean fan palm do not form limbs from their main trunks. They merely develop multiple trunks from basal pups.

The very few specie of palm that develop branches regularly are very rare and live very far away. Date palms, either grown for dates or recycled into landscapes from displaced date orchards, have the potential to develop pups higher on their trunks, but rarely do so.

Palms are only trees because they have trunks. Otherwise, they are merely really big perennials, with single terminal buds from which all their foliage, flowers and fruit develop. If deprived of the terminal bud, a palm can not generate a new one, which is why a palm will die if topped.

So why does this queen palm have more than one terminal bud? It is impossible to say.

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6 thoughts on “Two Heads Are Better Than One

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