MBC Palm Pages
Following a rigorous
review by the APGA, Montgomery Botanical Center holds the
National Palm Collection.
With nearly 3,000 species of palms in the world, the number of
researchers studying this plant group is greater than those studying
cycads. A primary Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC) goal is to
support the international palm community – from the scientists and
students conducting palm research to other experts, industries, and
societies participating in the larger “world of palms.”
As early as 1932, Robert
Montgomery was committed to developing an international palm collection
on the property. Today, MBC staff continue to undertake
scientifically-based international expeditions to collect
population-based seed samples of palms throughout the world to
plant at Montgomery Botanical. As in the past, palms continue to be the
collection at MBC. Vistas, paths, roads, lakes, and landscape beds are
all designed using palms obtained from MBC’s international expeditions.
In 1992, the
multidisciplinary design firm of Sasaki
Associates, Inc. created a long-term Master Site Plan for MBC. The Plan
defined long-term land use, access and circulation, and landscape
structure. A major landscape project within the Plan was the creation,
development, and planting of the Palm Walk, a 13-acre area containing a
quarter-mile primary path, numerous secondary walking and golf-cart
paths, and major and minor vistas. Ultimately, the Palm Walk will
contain well over 7,000 palms when fully planted.
In 1996, the first
planting of the Palm Walk went into the ground at the Walk’s entrance
near Nell’s House. Annually, approximately 500 palms are planted within
the boundaries of the Walk.
Zombia antillarum with fruit
growing at the entrance to Nell’s House was planted in the
MBC has some of the largest
known plants of this species under cultivation.
During the first few planting
MBC, an average of 750 palms were planted annually throughout the
property. Each of those plants were grown from seeds that were
wild-collected, fully-documented, and of scientific and educational
value. By December 31, 1999, MBC had over 7,000 seeds and plants in our
palm nursery and grounds collections. Within the palm grounds
collection, during that same time, MBC had over 4,000 plants,
representing 1,596 accessions and over 300 species. The major framework of
palms for the Palm Walk was completed in 2002.
Danielson (left), and nursery curator, Vickie Murphy,
planting a vining rattan palm at the base of an oak tree.
Rattan palms are
environmentally threatened, unloved, spiny, climbing palms that are
horticultural nightmares to manage in a garden. Everyone loves the
beautiful rattan furniture made from its canes, but no one cares to
grow these vines. Although this group of palms contains over 500
species, rattan collections at botanical gardens throughout the world
are almost nonexistent. MBC, with the help of
a generous contribution from the South Florida Chapter of the
International Palm Society, will plant 70 specimens of rattan palms.
throughout the world are encouraging the development of Montgomery
Botanical Center’s rattan collection. They are eagerly waiting to
undertake studies on the collection once it is developed. Many
questions still remain about a rattan’s life history, regenerative
abilities, and morphology. Answers to those questions will ultimately
help in developing sustainable management guidelines for this important
group of plants.
on the edge of MBC’s Nypa Lake are
fruticans, the mangrove palm.
Male inflorescences of Nypa fruticans.
| MBC is one of only a few gardens in
North America that
is able to grow and produce viable seeds of the unique Nypa fruticans.