Palm of the Month:
The Bismarck Palm
The Bismarckia nobilis is a magnificent, large palm that features a heavy crown of huge blue-green fronds which make a scraping, creaking sound in a gentle breeze! The trunk is rather stout and squat, and may reach 10 metres tall in its natural habitat.
Its fruit is about 3 cm. across and brown when ripe. Once it establishes itself in cultivation, it tends to be rather fast-growing! The Bismarckia is ideal for a large grouping of palms, and looks best where it can be seen, from all directions, out in the open, where the species can truly develop its eventual grand size! It requires a sunny planting location, that is also, well-drained.
The Bismarck palm performs well where there is a distinct wet & dry season (similar to the Island of Madagascar). It also prefers a temperature range for optimal growth of from 4 degrees C. to 36 degrees C. The Bismarckia prefers rainfall when it is combined with summertime warmth, which is another reason that Coastal California is less than optimal for this handsome species of palm. Unfortunately, CA receives the bulk of its rainfall in winter when the Bismarckia is basically dormant. Due to that combination, the Bismarckia Palm can be subject to root rot in California's typical winter rainfall plus "cool" weather combination.
This is a "monotypic" genus of palm, (no other member in its genus), which is endemic to the wet & hot, then seasonally dry & coolish winter's climate typically found in Madagascar. Unfortunately, in its natural region of origin, it is not found naturally, in great numbers, any longer! It is a wonderful, and impressive palm for SE Florida, extreme So. Texas (Rio Grande Valley Region), Queensland AU, and similar climates. It is not quite so well adapted to So. California, as summer temperatures are not "tropical", but it can be found there, in limited numbers, and with mixed cultivation successes!
Your "Wise Gardener" is partial to blue-green fan palms, and rather massive, long-lived palms, that seems to have few "pests", save for the palm leaf skeletoniser, which deforms leaves, but doesn't cause more than superficial damage to the Bismarckia, and for these reasons, I have deemed the Bismarckia nobilis your December, 2000 Blue Ribbon Palm of the Month!
Paul, "The Wise Gardener!"