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Old 01-23-2020, 02:20 AM
Status: "I'll be 17 in less than a month!" (set 1 day ago)
 
Location: Putnam County, TN
698 posts, read 157,090 times
Reputation: 448

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Like, seriously? They're even hardier than Sabal minor (Dwarf Palmetto), which is still native into Arkansas (commonly), Oklahoma and Virginia and extremely nearly into Tennessee and Maryland. Sabal minor even grows COMMONLY in the wild in southern Arkansas in hardwood forests!

Maybe Rhapidophyllum is trapped not just by the salt marshes on one side but Longleaf Pine savannas on the other? Those savannas are fire-ravaged; while S. minor has an underground trunk (except in swamps, on bedrock and in some hybrids), Rhapidophyllum grows slowly too, and they do still generate an aboveground trunk (it's just hard to notice because it's short like Mountain Laurels and covered like Southern Magnolias). So perhaps they're more prone to fire damage? But then, wouldn't they just be able to go up via the Mississippi floodplain and enter the hardwoods starting around Memphis and such?

Maybe the Native Americans deliberately wiped them out for some reason, or even accidentally with all that burning? Apart from the savannas throughout the non-coastal, non-riverfront Deep South, there are also "The Barrens" in some parts of southern Middle Tennessee that Euro-American explorers found to be strangely deforested.

Surely the soil wouldn't be a problem? Like S. minor (and S. palmetto a.k.a. Cabbage Palmetto), Rhapidophylum tolerates clay soil in addition to sand, as well as silt and loam in between. Not to mention some places (at least in Tennessee's Highland Rim) have silt and even occasional sand patches, and even growing in seasonally flooded swamps indicates that waterlogged soil should be no problem whatsoever. Also, the soil here is acidic, but so is Deep Southern soil.

Maybe the cold waves are too much? But like I said, S. minor is almost native to Tennessee and Maryland (it's present in counties bordering both and more not far from the former), and Rhapidophyllum is even hardier than that. Some old ones somehow managed to recover from -24F in Knoxville, and Tennessee/Arkansas/Oklahoma/Virginia 7a is different than even Idaho valley/Mid-Atlantic 7a let alone most 7a in that the winter means are higher, winters are mostly snowless rather than transient snow covered, summers are consistently rather than mostly hot, springs and autumns are warmer, and it warms back up rather quickly after cold snaps which are rather brief. So it's very odd, especially with Rhapidophyllum capable of asexual reproduction from surviving root systems as well as having tough leaves like the Magnolia grandiflora (Southern Magnolia).

Speaking of M. grandiflora, do they have a similar above-freezing average low requirement for seeds to sprout? But then again, Quercus fusiformis (Escarpment Live Oak) doesn't have similar requirements and is also just as hardy, S. minor doesn't have similar requirements either (parts of their native range in Arkansas have sub-0C/32F average lows), and Rhapidophyllum can also reproduce asexually as I've said.

Surely it can't be pests nor wildlife? Palm diseases are almost never a problem here in Middle Tennessee as far as I've heard/seen, and not only are deer not interested but it's also easy to understand why (sharp thorns, tough leaves).

This really is so odd. Besides, Arkansas is mostly if not wholly Cf under Trewartha, and while Tennessee does have a lot of Do areas, it's pretty evenly split between Do/Cf (the latter of which five of its six major cities are, Clarksville being the sixth). Oklahoma also has a lot of Cf in it (including OKC/Norman itself), probably more so than Tennessee albeit not quite like Arkansas. Generally Trewartha does a better job than Koppen for native subtropical vegetation, at least in North America and western Europe, but this IS North America. We do have native Yucca filamentosa (Adam's Needle Yucca) that aren't native north of Virginia on the coast, which is also roughly in line with Trewartha Cf. We also have winters over the generally accepted 2C/36F minimum for palms to naturalize except on the state's northern border, the northern half of the Cumberland Plateau, Tri-Cities and most of the Blue Ridge.

Why do you think this is? Do you think they'll naturalize without further climate change? If they do ever naturalize around Nashville/Murfreesboro in particular, do you think they'll be able to grow in the rocky glades too or not?
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Old 01-25-2020, 09:11 AM
 
Location: The Driftless Area, WI
3,361 posts, read 1,317,482 times
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Define "hardy?"...Usually we mean ability to survive extremes of temp/rainfall/soil conditions and such--once established....Maybe they don't compete with other species very well, so they don't get widely established?


Even Creeping Charlie doesn't do well on the floor of a dense forest...and even the oak which will one day form that dense canopy needs a large open space in the forest to get established.


The natural course of ecological succession often involves grasses growing to improve the soil, the shrubs coming in, followed by aspen & poplars- the pioneer trees, which eventually give way to the hardwoods....One reason the Great Plaines never succumbed to those pioneers is because their shoots & sapling were so tasty to the bison. The poplars couldn't get established to keep the parade going.


Thanks, Socrates, for starting these thought provoking, informative threads!
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Old 01-25-2020, 08:16 PM
 
Location: Kansas City, MISSOURI
11,776 posts, read 3,586,902 times
Reputation: 8803
^
Yeah, I was just thinking hardiness isn't everything. Sometimes the most hardy plants in the world have other limitations that don't let them compete well against other species.
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Old 01-25-2020, 09:35 PM
Status: "I'll be 17 in less than a month!" (set 1 day ago)
 
Location: Putnam County, TN
698 posts, read 157,090 times
Reputation: 448
Quote:
Originally Posted by guidoLaMoto View Post
Define "hardy?"...Usually we mean ability to survive extremes of temp/rainfall/soil conditions and such--once established....Maybe they don't compete with other species very well, so they don't get widely established?


Even Creeping Charlie doesn't do well on the floor of a dense forest...and even the oak which will one day form that dense canopy needs a large open space in the forest to get established.


The natural course of ecological succession often involves grasses growing to improve the soil, the shrubs coming in, followed by aspen & poplars- the pioneer trees, which eventually give way to the hardwoods....One reason the Great Plaines never succumbed to those pioneers is because their shoots & sapling were so tasty to the bison. The poplars couldn't get established to keep the parade going.


Thanks, Socrates, for starting these thought provoking, informative threads!
You do have a point, but I'm talking about something that tolerates shade well both in its actual natural habitat and when cultivated in the areas it's odd don't have wild ones.

And you're welcome!
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Old Today, 03:04 AM
Status: "I'll be 17 in less than a month!" (set 1 day ago)
 
Location: Putnam County, TN
698 posts, read 157,090 times
Reputation: 448
USDA map of the Needle Palm's native range. I finally got reliable county data, and it's even less than I thought! Why? Why does something so cold-hardy, deer-resistant, shade-tolerant, low-growing and pest-resistant have to be so limited, even more so than I thought I knew/expected?
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