B. marmoriiDr. Larry Noblick, Montgomery Botanical Center’s palm biologist, has described, for the first time, two rarely collected Butia species — B. exospadix and B. marmorii. Butia exospadix and B. marmorii (at center of photo) imitate grass and were discovered in the natural grasslands on the border of Paraguay and Brazil. As author of these species, Dr. Noblick brings to light species that might not even be recognized as palms.

Butia exospadix and B. marmorii also show distinctive similarities to Syagrus leptospatha. Therefore, Dr. Noblick has transferred S. leptospatha to Butia; S. leptospatha is now correctly identified as B. leptospatha. Dr. Noblick’s studies demonstrate, conclusively, the relationship among these three Butia species. His findings were published in the December 2006 edition of Palms, the Journal of the International Palm Society.

Dr. Noblick has been a palm biologist at Montgomery Botanical Center since 1994. In addition to Paraguay and Brazil, he has also collected in Argentina, Indonesia, Madagascar, New Caledonia, and Venezuela. Dr. Noblick’s research has focused primarily on the coconut-related palms, especially Syagrus and Butia.

The Butia marmorii seeds collected by Dr. Noblick have germinated and the young seedlings are currently being propagated in Montgomery Botanical Center’s nursery.