Calamus fruitDr. John Dowe gave a lecture at the Nixon Smiley Building on his 20 years of research on Australian palms. The talk was Dr. Dowe’s fifth lecture at Montgomery Botanical Center. Dr. Dowe is a Montgomery Botanical Research Fellow who conducts research annually at MBC. Dr. Dowe has published work with Dr. Larry Noblick, MBC Palm Biologist.

Dr. Dowe’s lecture focused on the rattan palms, Calamus.  Rattan palms are dioecious (separate male and female trees) and they have a whip like flagellum that allows them to grab onto trees to climb into the canopy. All of the parts of the rattan are spiny except for the stems. The stems have historically been and are currently used for furniture.

Dr. Dowe told a story about the evolution of the common name of the rattan palm from the Lawyer Vine to the Wait-a-While. The vines were originally viewed as fierce, but now are revered as a symbol of a relaxed way of life.

Dr. Dowe’s book on Australian palms will be published next year. It will contain 320 pages and detail 60 species of Australian palms. Montgomery Botanical Center will make the botanical data from this book available on the MBC website. The work of Dr. Dowe helps advance MBC’s mission of palm research.