Home' The River Weekly News : RWN 082115 Contents THE RIVER - AUGUST 21, 2015
Pygmy Date Palm
by Gerri Reaves
Pygmy date palm’s
fronds and small stature
make it a popular land-
scape plant in South
This native of Southeast
Asia resembles its relative,
the massive Canary Island
date palm (Phoenix canar-
iensis), but surpasses it in
Because it grows only to
the size of a large shrub, it
is useful in entryways and
even as a potted palm on a
pool or terrace.
It is especially pretty
planted in clusters to give
the illusion of a multi-
trunked palm, with smaller
plants arranged around it.
It usually reaches about
10 feet high with a crown spread of six feet or more. The bare but spiny-looking trunks
grow to about six inches in diameter.
The leaves, or fronds, of about four feet long are delicate in appearance and arch
over near to the ground.
The dark green slender leaflets are shiny.
Two- to three-inch thorns are found at the leaf bases, so take care to not place this
palm near walkways or play areas.
Spathed spikes of flowers grow amid the fronds. Male and female cream-colored
flowers are produced on different plants.
The inedible dark-red dates measure about one-half inch in diameter.
This tree needs moisture, good drainage and partial to full sun. It is not tolerant of
salt or salt spray, so it’s not suitable for coastal landscapes.
Pests include red scale, brown spot and Ganoderma butt rot. Magnesium, manganese
and potassium deficiencies are also a concern.
If wildlife-friendliness and lower maintenance are priorities, consider plant-
ing a relatively small native palm that benefits wildlife instead, such as needle palm
(Rhapidophyllum hystrix), buccaneer palm (Pseudophoenix sargentii), or saw palmetto
Sources: 500 Plants of South Florida by Julia F. Morton; Florida Landscape
Plants by John v. Watkins and Thomas J. Sheehan; Florida, My Eden by Frederic B.
Streasau; A Handbook of Landscape Palms by Jan Allyn; Waterwise: South Florida
Landscapes by the South Florida Water Management District; floridata.com; and ifas.ufl.
edu.Plant Smart explores the diverse flora of South Florida.
Non-native pygmy date palm’s size and open form make it a
popular plant for entrances, pool decks and terraces
photos by Gerri Reaves Thorns appear at the bases of the stems and short spikes of creamy flowers emerge amid
Rookery Bay National Estuarine
Research Reserve (RBNERR) in
Naples has completed the Restor-
ing the Rookery Bay Estuary project, a
three-year watershed-focused research
project aimed at understanding freshwater
inflows to the Rookery Bay estuary and
associated ecological effects. A significant
outcome of the research has been the de-
velopment of a hydrologic model, which
is a tool that can be used by private and
public sectors to run different scenarios
to help manage the volume and timing of
water entering the estuary.
Guided by a diverse advisory group
comprising local, state, federal and non-
profit stakeholders, the project focused on
gaining a better understanding of altered
freshwater inflows and gaining insights
on how local water resource decisions are
made and implemented.
“Through this project, we have
learned about changes in the Rookery
Bay watershed over the past 75 years,”
said Kevin Cunniff, research coordina-
tor at RBNERR and applied science
lead for the project. “Based on the data,
we learned that the overall amount of
fresh water entering the estuary has not
changed significantly, but the distribution
and timing of fresh water entering the
estuary is considerably different. This new
understanding can help us better develop
and implement strategies aimed at restor-
ing a more natural hydrology within this
watershed, which will benefit the ecology
of the estuary, while continuing to meet
public water supply and flood control
The project used an integrated
watershed management approach and
hydrologic, biological and social science
research to identify freshwater distribution
issues, estuarine ecological impacts and
potential solutions for mitigating impacts
and restoring a more natural water-
shed hydrology. Results can be used to
improve the quality, timing and volume of
freshwater inflows into surrounding estua-
rine and coastal environments. These
improvements can enhance downstream
habitats, such as seagrasses and oysters,
which support robust fisheries and the
recreational and commercial interests that
rely on them.
“We are pleased to partner with
Rookery Bay on this project,” said
Lisa Koehler, South Florida Water
Management District’s Big Cypress Basin
administrator. “Placing their model in
our Model Management System provides
user-friendly access to model data, saving
time and money on future modeling data
In addition to understanding changes
in freshwater inflows to the estuary over
time, the project provided insights into
how marine life in the Rookery Bay estu-
ary study area has responded to changes
in salinity based on historic fisheries
research conducted in Rookery Bay since
the 1970s. The project also identified and
mapped current RBNERR aquatic benthic
habitat resources through high-resolution
aerial imagery analysis and specifically
assessed changes in seagrass within the
Rookery Bay study area based on histori-
cal imagery analyses. Lastly, the project
conducted social science to better under-
stand local attitudes about water.
The project was funded in 2011
through an $815,000 grant awarded by
NOAA’s National Estuarine Research
Reserve System’s (NERRS) Science
Collaborative funding program and com-
menced in 2012. RBNERR staff worked
with contractors such as hydrologists,
engineers and university faculty on proj-
ect components including aerial imag-
ery, maps and educational products. A
comprehensive final project report will
be available online at rookerybay.org in
Twenty-eight National Estuarine
Research Reserves from around the con-
tinental United States and Puerto Rico
were invited to apply for this grant. Of
the 17 proposals submitted, seven were
funded including RBNERR’s proposal.
The NERRS Science Collaborative is
jointly administered by NOAA and the
University of New Hampshire.
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research
Real Estate Expert
SW Florida, Fort Myers Beach,
Sanibel & Captiva Islands
is All About Home
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