South Florida Palm Society


The South Florida Palm Society is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to disseminate information about and encourage interest in palms and the use of these plants.  The South Florida Palm Society uses its funds to help support local botanical gardens, individual scientific research expeditions or projects, conservation and planting projects and educational efforts.

**** Fall Garden Tour: November 3, 2018. The SFPS fall garden tour this year will feature the palmetum at North Miami-Dade College. The tour will begin at 9:00 am. After the tour, there will be a picnic lunch. The tour is free for SFPS members and $10.00 contribution is requested of all non-members. Although the garden is relatively new, the garden has many specimen size palms, giving the appearance of a much older garden. Details on college parking and meeting area will be posted shortly.

**** Holiday party in December at Fairchild Tropical Garden. Date and additional details will be forthcoming.

October 1, 2018: Palms of The Kampong October 1, 2018 Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 7:00 pm.

The Kampong is located in Coconut Grove and is open to the public. See the following link: The Kampong

Craig Morrell, director of The Kampong, went far beyond just talking about palms, but all the information was of interest to our palm loving members. He spoke on the recovery process following a hurricane. The three essential elements for successful recovery are (1) Avoid sunburn and further damage by providing shade and water (2) Keep the plant healthy, and in particular preventing fungal diseases using fungicides and (3) Applying sufficient and appropriate fertilizer. The advantages of magnesium sulfate and potassium nitrate were discussed. Proper plant care extends to all plants. Craig gave great horticultural advice for our palm growers.

August 6, 2018 Presentation: Andes Mountain High. SFPS member, Elvis Cruz, presented a slideshow on the International Palm Society's Biennial Conference in Colombia from May 26 to June 2, 2018. We saw the tallest palm tree in the world, Ceroxylon quindiuenseand enjoyed hearing about the various adventures, fun and frivolity had during the journey, including a nearly fatal incident. This eight-day journey took intrepid palm enthusiasts through Colombia's Quindio Region with stops in Armenia, Tochecito and the Cocora Valley.


Ongoing Projects:

Morningside Park has had this Palmetum since it was designed and constructed in 1953. While a dozen or so of the original 1953 plantings remain, many palms were lost to attrition over time. The South Florida Palm Society, in agreement with the City of Miami, adopted the Palmetum and aspires to restore it to glory. SFPS members engage in planting, irrigating, fertilizing, weeding, mulching and general maintenance of the palmetum, at no cost to the City. Rare palms have been donated by Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden, Montgomery Botanical Center, various commercial nurseries owned by SFPS members, and individual donations. The SFPS has also donated the identification signs for each palm, and gives educational tours of the Palmetum.

For more information, click here.

Shown below are members of SFPS helping to plant and mulch the donated palms.


A group of biology students from Miami Northwestern High School recently enjoyed an educational tour of the Morningside Park Palmetum, as led by Elvis Cruz. Northwestern High biology teacher Teha Tarallo is at the far left. Any groups interested in enjoying an educational tour of the Palmetum may contact to schedule. In this manner,  SFPS is actively engage in increasing the knowledge of palm trees in the community, consistent with its mission.   It helps to start at a young age.



SFPS member, Lazaro Priegues, conducted a tour of the Morningside Park in April 2018. In the left image are a group of biology students and garden club members of Morningside K-8 Academy, the local public school. The kids had a splendid time and learned a thing or two about palms. In the right image are a group of Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts who participated in the Baynanza shoreline clean-up in Morningside Park, then enjoyed a BBQ picnic and a tour of the palmetum. Not only are these tours an educational benefit for the children, they also help preserve and protect the Palmetum by giving it a social and educational value. Also, the SFPS is an 501C3, with education as part of its mission statement, so these tours serve that purpose as well.

A glimpse of some young new botanists:


July 31, 2017: Keeping Virginia Key beautiful with native palms, courtesy of the South Florida Palm Society

Nothing works better in putting the right palm in the right place. The Board of Directors voted at the last meeting to approve a request from TREEmendous Miami for funds to buy 30 Sabal Palms for installation on Virginia Key Beach as part of a long-running project to restore native flora to the key. Twenty of the palms had about 6 ft. of wood, and the remaining ten had 15-16 ft. of wood. Post Mortem on Hurricane Irma in Southeast Florida, by Leonard Goldstein


Recent Meetings and Garden Tours

June 4: Jody Haynes of Signature Trees and Palms, gave a great presentation on the challenges in moving large palm trees in both commercial and residential settings. One of the most important points was protection of the top palm spear. Proper trimming of roots, and later additional supports, sometimes as big as telephone poles, are required to keep the palms upright. The presentation ended with the relocation of an enormous Ceiba tree, which had to be severely prune for transport. All branches grew back.

Feb 5: Chad Husby of Fairchild Botanic Tropical Garden presented his most recent trip to Thailand, in search of new plant acquisitions for the garden and future plant sales. Scientists may stil hunt for new palms growing in the wild, but their search sometimes takes them to local vendors for exotic plants. It helps to be there during the celebration of the King's birthday. In the true spirit of Dr. Fairchild, it is great to see FTG scientists making connections throughout the tropical world. The group made a return visit to Nong Nooch nursery, with their immense collection and sculptures including dinosaurs. Seems approproiate as palms evolved during the age of dinosaurs. The presentation ended on a discussion of how these new acquisitions can be grown at FTG. After bringing back 22 large boxes of plants, They may need another greenhouse!

Dec 4, 2017. Another excellent holiday party. Some really fine food including one awesome key lime pie. Elections were held. The members elected to three-year terms at the holiday party were: Julio Alvarez, Lenny Goldstein, Lou Sguros, Rosita Stoik, Jorge Zaldivar. Alvarez, Stoik and Zaldivar will be serving their first term on the board. Many palms were donated for the auction including a very large and beautiful Sealing Wax Palm, which attracted some high bids.

Oct 2, 2017: Elvis Cruz presented the final episode of his Asian tour following the 2016 IPS Biennial Meeting with visits to gardens and local attractions, including interesting perspective on local culture.

Aug 7, 2017. Dr. Carl Lewis, director of Fairchild Garden, presented "Palms of the Spice Islands" which a recent FTG organized trip retraced routes taken by Dr. David Fairchild's famed Cheng Ho Expedition undertaken on the eve of World War II. His presentation intermingled beautiful photos taken on the trip, with those taken by Dr. Fairchild.

June 5, 2017. Kevin McLeod discussed some of the more practical aspects of growing palms in South Florida. He has been particularly successful at growing Copernicia and other similar Carribean palms with drilling deep holes, frequently all the way to the water table in south Florida's coral rock. Other topics discussed wer: best watering practices, cutting and trimming palms, fertilizing practices; the difference between 3-month and 1-year fertilizer formulas and difficulty of ridding palms of nutritional deficiencies.

April 29, 2017: The Spring Garden tour began at Dr. Page's house, with an astounding Talipot palm planted very close to his house. The tour proceeded to two more homes, with relatively small backyards, but phenomenal collections of palms. In all, it was clear that in order to have an excellent collection, a large backyard is not a prerequisite.

April 3, 2017: A slide presentation of the IPS's 2016 Biennial Tour, by Elvis Cruz, included Kuching and Singapore. Kuching - An old Malaysian city with some traditionally Asian features, and world-class palm touring nearby. Singapore - An ultra-modern city, with some of the best cultivated gardens on earth including astounding pictures of Licuala orbicularis, Jubaea chilensis, and an astounding Joey palm. Mixed in with the slides were a quirky mix of the fauna of the both Malaysia and Singapore, including the occasional leeches. An auction of palms and a couple orchids followed the presentation.

Feb 6, 2017:Jeff Searles presented his travels in Borneo in advance of the 2016 IPS Biennal Meeting. Borneo is a most interesting place. Not only is it the largest island in Asia, but it is the third largest island in the world. For several reasons, it has been slow to give up its secrets. Its thick tropical lowland forests, majestic Mt. Kanabalu, and gigantic leeches have long presented formidable challenges to explorers. Some historians believe that no westerner was able to traverse the island until 1982!

Nov 5, 2016: The SFPS 2016 Fall Garden Tour took place in the Redland. First we visited Botanics Wholesale Nursery with an abundance of unusual palms including Joey palms and other tropical plants. Then it was on to the Tropical Research and Education Center (TREC). Operated by the University of Florida, the facility occupies about 160 acres and boasts a very nice collection of palms that includes Copernicia fallaensis and Attalea crassispatha. Our third stop was at Kevin McCloud's house where he is growing a huge Tahina palm. He shared with us some of his secrets which includes making a big hole for his Tahina and doing a really diligent job of palm hunting among the vendors.

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