This Six on Saturday did not go as planned. I intended to finally share six pictures of the esperanza and poinciana (pride of Barbados) seed from Crazy Green Thumbs, since they were sown shortly before I shared more of Brent’s pointless pictures last week. However, the file of those pictures was somehow deleted! It is too dark to get a picture now. When I get a picture later, it will show only flats of unseen seed! Since reminding Brent to NOT send more pointless pictures, he responded by sending a profusion of pointless pictures! However, if I can not share the six pictures that I very much wanted to share this week, I will most certainly not share six more pointless pictures that I do not want to share. So, I ultimately decided to share six pictures of an exemplary Mediterranean or European fan palm, Chamaerops humilis, that we relocated more than two weeks ago. However, since I had not planned to share these pictures just yet, I had neither procured a picture of the palm at its new home, nor copied a picture of it prior to departure from its former home.

1. From beginning to end, and even after the intensive grooming of the trunk, only three of these many healthy fronds got pruned away, and only because they hung too low. For most palms, I prefer to remove most foliage for transplant. So far, this one sustains it all. This is the view of the top of the canopy as the dug tree was laying in back of the pickup.

2. Female specimens have fewer and more pliable teeth on their petioles than the males. This was one of the most tame of females I have ever engaged. I had expected far worse.

3. Only a few aborted berries were observed. Since this species in unpopular here, it may lack a male pollinator. However, it has potential to sneakily provide its own male bloom.

4. Gads! I almost never see this palm pruned and groomed properly. Petioles should get cut below the thorns and as closely to the trunk as possible. These long stubs are thorny.

5. The upper left quadrant of this picture demonstrates what this trunk should look like, after the thorny petiole stubs were cut away. It looks like Lumpy, the son of Chewbacca.

6. Here, it looks like Doctor Lecter of ‘Silence of the Lambs’, strapped into a dolly. It was much easier to handle after grooming, but still weighs about a hundred and fifty pounds. This species typically develops a few curving trunks. Such a straight single trunk is rare.

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:


16 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: Lumpy Lecter

    1. The roots get quite deep, but get cut for transplant. The tree produces new roots from the base of the trunk, almost like a very big cutting, although the trunk needs the rooted base to generate new roots. We intended to tie the tree to a stake above a retaining wall behind where it was installed, but was quite stable, so is just standing there by its own weight. The gnarly callus growth above the lower orange strap in the last pictures is adventitious roots, which would develop into functional roots if buried. Most palms here develop these adventitious roots at their base. Such adventitious roots could be buried just like the severed roots. In fact, a portion of the trunk could be buried as well. Recycled trees that must be the same height for a formal landscape, such as flanking a street, get planted at the necessary depth for their canopy to be at the right height, even if a few feet of the trunk must be buried. Of course, since the prices of such trees are determined by trunk length, it is best for them to be as close to the desired height as possible.

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    1. Palm are quite interesting. People think of them as trees, but they are really very big perennials. This particular specimen is interesting because of the single straight trunk. The species typically develops several curved trunks. It is my least favorite species of palms here, but I happen to be quite fond of this particular specimen now that it went to a good home where it is appreciated.

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  1. I absolutely love when you do posts like this, even if it wasn’t what you were planning. Of course I have seen this sort of tree (or palms anyway–being from the frozen north, they are all pretty much generic to me) when I travel. But the close-up of the fronds and the thorns (who knew?) and berries is fascinating. Thanks!


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    1. Several species of palm exhibit thorns. Fan palms develop thorny petioles, such as those seen in these pictures. Feather palms exhibit stout thorn-like basal leaflets, which are similar, but bigger, and merge into soft and pliable leaflets farther up the rachis. Queen palm and windmill palm are two palms here that lack such thorns, although the petioles of windmill palm are sufficiently serrate and firm to cut something soft. There are a few more palms in Southern California that lack thorns. For most species, males are thornier.


    1. Phoenix roebellini is another species that I almost never see pruned and groomed properly. It amazes me that those who grow them as nursery stock do not even bother to prune them properly! Such trees are sold with that nasty stubble.
      Did you happen to look up Lumpy? Someone at work told me about it. I found it to be quite . . . disturbing.

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      1. What?! Perhaps you should try looking for ‘Lumpawaroo’, which is his full name.
        Anyway, palms are not difficult to groom for those who are familiar with them. Those who grow palms for retail nurseries or the landscape industry should do so properly, particularly since such palms are so expensive. I groomed Lumpy without getting too torn up, and I use no gloves or even long sleeves.

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  2. Fascinating and very timely. I have a chamaerops in a pot that I was thinking of planting out because it’s getting too big (and sad!). I’m frightened of its prickly nature, but you’ve given me instructions on how to do it!

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    1. Because they grow slowly, they often stay potted for too long. (They seem like they can stay in their pots longer than they should.) They respond very favorably to release from their confinement. If it seems to be to shabby at the base, it can be planted a bit deeper. For pruning, petioles should be cut off cleanly to the trunk! Vigorously growing specimens are not quite as vicious with their thorns as distressed or stunted specimens. If you specimen is a male, it likely has sharper and nastier thorns than Lumpy here.

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