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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - July 23, 2010

From: Charleston, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Seeds and Seeding, Trees
Title: Sprouts from Sabal palmetto in Charleston SC
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in SC and have several palm trees (our state tree and symbol). The trees are wonderful, but my situation concerns the many, many sprouts that appear in the flower beds around the trees? Is there anything, other than constantly tilling the area, that will remove them safely?

ANSWER:

We could find no mention of Sabal palmetto (cabbage palmetto)   having suckers or sprouts coming up from the roots of the palm, but rather learned that seeds germinate readily in the landscape, generating many seedlings. Removing the seedlings from beneath the canopy can be a nuisance, which you obviously already know. Much as we hate to tell you this, tilling will only turn up more seeds, including some weeds and other plants you don't want. We would recommend recognizing what the palmetto seedlings look like and pulling them as soon as they emerge. Because seeds germinate from middle to late summer, seedling growth the first year normally consists of a primary root, one fully expanded leaf with stem growth obliquely downward forming the rhizome.

 

From the Image Gallery


Cabbage palmetto
Sabal palmetto

Cabbage palmetto
Sabal palmetto

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