Sabal's trunks rotting?

tropicpalmsJuly 26, 2010

quick question does anyone know what causes the trunks of mostly sabals to somewhat rot but palm is still healthy and growing? i saw many of these going down south... and im guessing like a palmetto weevil? or a type of bug does anyone know anything about this thanks for the help in advance! -Justin in VB

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What do you mean by "rotting"? I haven't seen any in this area like that.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 2:49PM
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Doesn't sound good. Rotting trunk = D.O.A.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 3:38PM
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NoVaPlantGuy_Z7b_8a(Alexandria, VA 7B/8A)

Photos would be very helpful!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 4:38PM
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I've noticed a few like that, always mature palms without leaf boots and always in areas with human activity. My guess is they have been scraped at some point in time by an object or maybe string trimmer damage.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 6:36PM
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Cabbage palms are tough! I've seen them with major trunk damage that has been there for many, many years and the trees seem to be very healthy. It would take a lot more than a scrape or a string trimmer to kill one.

If anyone has any photos, I'd love to see them. I'm a Florida native and have never seen any trees like described, unless they had been dead for a long time and finally started to rot. You can even see trunks of old trees that have been dead for many, many years and they are still like concrete and usually have woodpeckers using them for nests.

Here are some very old trees with damaged trunks,a very common site on old Sabal Palmettos...

These are very old, large Sabal Palmettos, growing at Bok Tower and they are still doing quite well.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 7:43PM
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NoVaPlantGuy_Z7b_8a(Alexandria, VA 7B/8A)

Thanks Jayinflorida! That is exactly why I was asking for a pic from the original poster. I have seen many Sabal Palmetto with fairly extensive trunk damage and they were looking as fine and healthy as ever. I think that has alot to do how they differ from deciduous trees in terms of how they grow in terms of their trunk structure, IE (xylem, phloem, and cambium, etc.)

The main difference between most palms (monocots) and deciduous trees / conifers (dicots) is that the trunks of the deciduous trees/ conifers (dicots) has most of its active growth / fluid/sugar/nutrient/water/sap transport (xylem, phloem, cambium...etc) just below the bark. Palms have that system / structure built throughout the entire trunk. This is why we can see growth "RINGS" on deciduous / coniferous trees, and not on palms.

Another major difference between the two is that an injury on a deciduous/ conifer (dicot) is almost always "healed", where as an injury on most palm (monocot) trunks is almost always permanent.

Anyway, Rotting usually infers an active infectious area, IE something that is happening currently / is on going. That is why I wanted to see photos. Damage, while not "healed" by the palm, is permanent, but usually is from something in its past that is no longer occurring. Anyway... just thought I would add my .02

Btw.. that last pic is fantastic! I LOVE those giant old Sabals, especially when they develop that very casual "lean". They just look so majestic and graceful!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 12:08AM
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I always thought that the holes on some palm trunks were caused by shoes that where used to climb them. They seem very common on coconut palms, and Ive never seen any ill from it. I also love the old sabals. Those have to be at least 100 years old!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 3:31AM
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novaplantguy: Glad you enjoyed the photos... those are some very nice, old Sabals. I check them out each time I visit Bok Tower.

tropicalzone7: The holes in the pics that I have posted are caused by woodpeckers and is a very common site here in Florida. You're probably right about the age of those old Sabals... they are probably around 100 yrs old, give or take a few years. The one above, with the plaque, says that it was planted by President Coolidge in 1929 and it's actually smaller than many of the big ones pictured above. I don't know how big it was when it was planted, but it's been there for 81+ years!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 9:48AM
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BTW, the one on the right is the one planted in 1929 (81+ yrs ago). If you look real close, you can see the plaque at about 5 ft from the ground.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 9:53AM
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ill get pics. soon when i go back down south. also the one i was referring to is a customer here in Va... he has a beautiful sabal and the trunk looks perfect from a distance, but as u get close and squeese the trunk it's soft and feels like a dry sponge... the center still felt hard and very firm. I have never seen this type before thats why i was asking. when i squeezed the trunk small mite looking bugs came out i didn't wanna damage the trunks appearance any more... the foliage and top looked perfect. I didnt take a pic. when i go back out i will take a pic and a video and hopefully the video will show it better! thanks jayinfl and everyone for thoes nice pics and help... -Justin in VB

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 1:41PM
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