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ben44_gw

Finding 5-foot Butia eriospatha

ben44
11 years ago

Hello hello,

I'm brand new to the forum and have already found it quite helpful, just reading several threads. My wife and I have just begun the endeavor to create a tropical garden at our healing center in Seattle. After reading Nigel Kembrey's and many others' testimonies on the applicability of Butia eriospatha to temperate northern climates, I'm very interested in getting ahold of some of these palms. The problem is, I can't find anything but seedlings available for purchase in the US.

Ideally, we would like to buy some "trunked up" eriospathas that are at least 5 feet tall. Does anyone have any leads on where to look for such?

Thanks,

Ben

Comments (8)

  • tropicalzone7
    11 years ago

    Welcome to the forum! Butia eriospatha is going to be pretty difficult to find at that size. I've seen some at nice 3 gallon sizes, but nothing even close to 5 feet of trunk. I think that butia capitata should do okay during most of Seattle's winters, especially if your near the coast. Trachycarpus are a great palm for Seattle because they dont need too much summer time heat to grow and they dont mind a lot of clouds and moisture. Needle palms are another nice palm, although they are more bushlike. Pretty much every broadlead evergreen will also give a tropical look.
    Good luck!
    -Alex

  • ben44
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Thanks, Alex, yeah, the largest size I'm finding is a 5 gal. for the eriospathas at Jungle Music. I'm a little hesitant to try capitata because I've heard they're not as hardy and they're also not as happy with the clouds and moisture and lack of heat. That and they're not as green -- I don't really like the silvery look as much.

    I am planning to plant a waggie and possibly some Needle palms in other locations. I've heard that the Needle palms can be planted as an "impenetrable barrier" because of the needles and that they're OK with shade. I wonder how fast-growing they are, though. I have some areas where I'm trying to keep the vagrants from sleeping around our building, and a prickly plant would be most convenient.

    I don't know where you are, but the problem around here is that we have so many rhodies, azaleas, camellias, laurels, etc. -- even southern magnolias are everywhere now -- that they don't invoke tropical much at all. We were attracted to the eriospathas because they're a real feather palm and we want them to be at the front of our building -- along with bananas, hibiscus, etc. -- to set the tropical tone. But at this point, the nearest I've found any sizable trees is Holland ......... or Brazil. So I'm stumped.

    Any other leads out there?

    Ben

  • butiaman
    11 years ago

    Hello,and welcome to the forum Ben.
    I've been growing palms for about 24yrs now and I cant find a B.eriospatha over a 10gal. on the east coast.Butia palms are my favorite palm family,hence my screen name.I see a lot of silver or blue looking B.capitatas,but everyone I've had is dark or light green.B.eriospathas is just not as common in the trade as B.capitatas,I don't know why.Your correct about them being more tolerable of wet conditions.There's one place in California that might can help you,it's Brother Earth Nursery.I hope they can help you.
    Randy

  • ben44
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Hi Randy,

    Thanks! I've seen your name around the palm forums a few times already -- nice to meet you. I gave a call to Brother Earth and am still waiting to hear back. It's a shame more people don't grow B. eriospatha. It seems like a perfect palm for the Pacific Northwest. After talking to some other nurseries, I've heard some people say that the capitatas tend to be more silver in certain conditions than others, and others say they just naturally range in color from green to silver to olive.....

    Ben

  • lzrddr
    11 years ago

    We have a few mature trunking palms here in So Cal and frankly no matter how close or far I get, I cannot distinguish this one from B capitata (now odorata) unless you look really close at the flower spathe (fuzzy in eriospatha, and not in capitata). Even B yatay, which is supposed to be larger, looks so similar that I can't really tell them apart either. B capitata comes in such a wide variety of looks anyway, you would certiainly never know the difference. No difference in hardiness that I know of, either, though I don't think your palm has been tested nearly as much as B capitata has. Only Butia that looks different to me as an adult here in So Cal is paraguayensis, and that is not all the different, either. Of course, there are about 10 more species of Butia, some which are strikingly different, but never seen an adult (in real life) of any of those.

  • Dick_Sonia
    11 years ago

    Finding palms and other exotics that are adapted to cool-summer areas is difficult. There are three main centers of exotic plant growing in the U.S.: Florida and the Gulf Coast, the low deserts of Arizona and inland California, and the warm/mild Mediterranean climates of coastal California. Wholesale plant growers won't take much interest in other regions because the customer base there is too small.

    The relative advantage of Butia eriospatha over B. capitata isn't seen south of San Francisco. Grow the two side-by-side in Los Angeles and you wouldn't notice any difference. Grow the two side-by-side in Eureka, CA and you'll understand why northern hobbyists want B. eriospatha -- it's WAY faster and better adapted to cloudy conditions and excess rain. It isn't about winter hardiness. It's only where growers understand the challenges of COOL SUMMERS that the B. eriospatha advantage is clear.

    A B. eriospatha with 5 feet of clear trunk would be at least $500 and quite possibly over $1000. And the shipping of a palm that size would be prohibitive. I'd look for 1-gallon plants or even liners and bide your time. There just isn't any quick and easy way to get a hold of exotics for cool-summer climates. A lot of us are growing such plants from seed because there is simply no other way to source them.

  • ben44
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Dick, Thank you for all that information. It's been confusing about the hardiness -- some say more, some say less. But definitely everyone in colder regions say that B. eriospatha grows almost twice as fast as B. capitata.

    Anyway, I'm glad that you posted to this thread because I was meaning to post here to say that I did find one grower who has some big Butia eriospathas for sale. Randy, you might be particularly interested because this guy is in right in your home state. Have you ever heard of a fellow named Chuck Mooney -- I think he's in central Georgia somewhere? He sent me these pictures of what he says are B. eriospatha, field-grown 9 and 10 feet tall:

    As you can see, there's no trunk to speak of, but they look pretty nice. He told me he's selling them for $25 per foot, which I think is a pretty good deal. I would buy a couple of them, but shipping them to Seattle would be a lot of money, and my wife and I are considering a different design with our tropical garden. So maybe another time.

    Chuck's number is 478-589-7645 if anyone is interested. It would be nice to get a confirmation that they are indeed B. eriospatha, if anyone decides to work with him. I talked to another grower in California who said he got his capitatas and eriospathas mixed up and wasn't sure anymore if some of the plants he had growing were really eriospatha or not. He cited the blue color on the petioles being a possible indication that they're eriospatha, which Chuck's palms seem to have too, but I'm not sure if that's an accurate way to tell or not.

    -Ben

  • butiaman
    11 years ago

    Hey Ben,
    I've heard of him.He sells on craigslist all the time.I dont think B.eriospatha would do better for me here in the deep south.We have very hot humid summers normally.This year has been very hot and dry so far.Thanks for the info.tho.I plan on going and checking out his plants when there in bloom,so I can tell if there the real deal or not.
    Randy