Friday, December 15, 2017
Home and Garden

Ask Dr. Hort: Some palm seeds are more tasty than others

Some palm seeds are more tasty than others

Q: Here is a picture of palm seeds that I collected on my morning walk last spring, before and after I cleaned off the fruit. Also, here is a picture of the resulting seedlings. Can you identify the palm tree for me? Cathy Bird

Q: The seeds in your pictures look like pindo or jelly palm seeds, Butia capitata, most palm seedlings look very much alike. The adult palm has silvery-grey, feather type (pinnate) fronds with hooked thorns at the base and the fronds arch backward. The trunk is solitary and stout with frond bases (boots) still attached. The fruit is round like a jawbreaker, orange and quite tasty to eat. It is very cold hardy and a slow grower with trunks not much over 10 to 15 feet in the Tampa Bay area. My second choice is queen palm, Syagrus romanzoffiana, a single clean trunk (no boots), gray in color. The fronds are feather type (pinnate) with no thorns at the base. Most of the fruits are oblong like an olive instead of round, orange in color, like the pindo. The orange flesh is edible, very sweet and fibrous, but is not as tasty as the pindo. It is one of the fastest growing palms for our area and is also hardy.

Bermuda grass will fill nicely between brick pavers

Q: I recently installed a paver patio in my back yard. I left 6 inches between the pavers to plant grass. Could you advise on what type of grass I should install? I live in St.Pete Beach so the air is salty. The patio gets morning shade and afternoon sun. Barbara Bennett, St. Pete Beach

A: For your site, Bermuda grass, Cynodon dactylon, would be the ideal choice. This is the golf course grass for Florida. You might be able to find some Bermuda grass sod pieces (partial pallet) or special order at a local sod vendor. Be mindful that a pallet of sod covers 400 square feet and weighs about 3,000 pounds. You would then need a machete to cut the sod pieces into the desired size slabs or you could have the grass professionally installed. Another option would be to purchase Bermuda grass seed at your local garden center such as Jene's Tropicals, not far from you, and save quite a bit of money. Remember there will be maintenance involved during the growing season, perhaps a weed whacker and a broom would do the trick.

A coating of Roundup should tame rogue fern

Q: My yard is separated from my neighbor's by a 6-foot wooden privacy fence. A little over a year ago, the neighbor planted Boston fern along the fence and it keeps creeping into my garden. I'm really not a big fan of random Boston fern popping up every week. Is there anything I can do — short of torching it — to keep this pesky plant out of my yard? Nina Thomas, Clearwater

A: The quickest and easiest strategy would be to spray it with a herbicide containing glyphosate such as Roundup. Apply, covering 100 percent of the leaves, following label directions and the Boston fern, Nephrolepis exaltata 'Bostoniensis', will learn to stay on the other side of the fence. Since glyphosate is a growth regulating type herbicide, the faster the fern is growing, the faster it is killed after application.

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