Coconut Grove Palmetum

at Montgomery Botanical Center
The Palmetum is a well-documented, population-based collection of palms covering an area of about 19 acres.
Although the largest, most visible, and most mature palm specimens at the Montgomery Botanical Center are still those from Colonel Montgomery’s original collection, they make up less than 3 percent of the total number of palm specimens at Montgomery. By the year 2006, there were 2,356 accessions of palms in the nursery and the grounds, representing 428 taxa from 63 countries. In the grounds collection there were 5,233 palm specimens representing 1,803 accessions and 358 taxa.
Approximately 73 percent of the palm grounds collection is wild collected and another 2 percent can be traced to wild-collected parents. So, 75 percent of the collection is either directly or indirectly from the wild, making Montgomery Botanical Center’s living palm collection one of the most scientifically valuable collections in the United States today—and valuable for scientific research.

On left side of this vista is Caryota gigas, collected from southern China in 1993 by Sin-Lin Yang. On the right is a white-trunked Caryota bacsonensis, collected from Malaysia by William Hahn in 1993. Beyond it on the right is an original planting of Bismarkia nobilis planted between 1934 and 1939. And behind that is a patch of native saw palmetto, Serenoa repens.

This 1932 planting of Hyphaene coriacea came from South Africa.

This single Hyphaene compressa plant branches about 15 feet above the ground. It was collected by Stanley Kiem in Tanzania in 1965.

Arthur C. Langlois, author of Supplement to Palms of the World, collected this Dypsis madagascariensis (center) in 1962. Since then, cold snaps and hurricanes have reduced this resilient palm to the ground, but it always recovers

Nancy Edmondson, former curator of palms at Fairchild Tropical Garden, collected this Cryosophila guagara from Guatemala in 1982. The trunk root spines are characteristic of this genus.

Martin Gibbons and his friend Spanner rediscovered Medemia argun from the Numibian Desert of Sudan. This palm was from one of the seeds collected on that 1995 expedition.

Ridge Road can be seen from both the Cycad and Palm Walks. Prior to being rerouted at the behest of Colonel Montgomery, it was a section of Old Cutler Road.

Ridge Road is currently maintained in its original and historic state.

To the left is an undocumented Livistona decipiens, but growing just below are several more of the same species from Queensland, Australia, wild collected by John Dowe in 1996. On the right are Cuban belly palms, Gastrococos crispa.

This area of the Coconut Grove Palmetum contains (L to R): Attalea phalerata, Attalea butyracea, Sabal bermudana, and Brahea armata (now dead), all planted in 1932.

Stanley Keim, former superintendent of horticulture at Fairchild Tropical Garden, added substantially to the palm and cycad collections during the late 1950s and early 1960s. He collected this Attalea cohune from Guatemala in 1962.

Dr. Richard Moyroud rescued several of the native Keys thatch palms, Leucothrinax morrisii, seen here in 1989 from a site in the Florida Keys that was destined for road expansion.

Dr. Scott Zona, Curator of the Wertheim Conservatory and Greenhouses at Florida International University, collected these Montgomery palms (Veitchia arecina) from Vanuatu in 1996.

Most of these trees came from nurseries and were planted in 1932. On the left is Phoenix canariensis; behind it are two Phoenix reclinata; in the center is a Chinese fan palm, Livistona chinensis; to the right is Attalea butyracea; and on the extreme right is Caryota mitis. In 1933, Dr. David Fairchild collected this particular Attalea butyracea from a garden in Trinidad. The mother plant was reported to have come from Brazil.
Six lakes grace the Lowland Palmetum, where many rare and unusual palms are planted. This view is overlooking Royal Lake and Coconut Lake.
An American crocodile, Crocodylus acutus, warms itself by a Montgomery lake.
Nypa fruticans are thought to be the most primitive of the palms. Dr. P. B. Tomlinson, a recognized authority on palm anatomy and morphology, collected these from Malaysia in 1982.
Nypa fruticans inflorescences are highly attractive. The female flowers are clustered in a tight, fleshy, brownish sphere (left) and the male flowers are yellow with pollen.

A section of the Silver Bluff Escarpment is preserved on MBC property.

From left to right are Nannorrhops ritchiana, collected in Pakistan by M. Said in 1960; Sabal uresana, collected in Mexico by Boutin and Kimnack in 1972; and Livistona woodfordii, whose origin is unknown.

Also in the lowlands are some significant palms like these two large Copernicia baileyana (left and right) with Copernicia hospita below. In the center is Livistona decora, and just to the right of it is a thin-stemmed Livistona rotundifolia.

Learn About the History of the Montgomery Palmetum

Visit our Cycad Walk