Naples Zoo Blog

A Love of Palm Trees

By Darryl Windham, Horticulture Manager
 

Nothing adds a tropical ambiance to gardens quite like palm trees.  Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is uniquely situated in a part of Florida that can grow a wide variety of palms beyond the twelve species native to the state.  There are 2,600 species of palms known to science.  They occur on every continent, with the exception of Antarctica, and inhabit a wide variety of ecosystems.  Some interesting facts about palms is that they hold the record for largest inflorescence (cluster of flowers) of any plant on Earth (Corypha spp.), the largest seed (Lodoicea maldivica- Coco de Mer), and the largest leaf in the plant kingdom (Raphia regalis)!

The use of palm trees in the landscape at Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens goes all the way back to the property’s founder, Dr. Henry Nerhling.  Some of the specimens he planted in the 1900s can still be seen today, such as the Silver Palms on Bear Loop and the Puerto Rican Hat Palm in the Black Bear Hammock exhibit. The last of the original Royal palms he planted at the entrance to his home was unfortunately lost during Hurricane Irma.  Since Nerhling’s time, palms have been added to the landscape by both Julius Fleischmann and the Tetzlaff family through the years. 

The zoo is currently growing over 100 species of palms in the landscape and the nursery area that will be planted out when they mature. It’s very fitting that we have 100 species of palms as we celebrate our 100th anniversary of our garden, which was founded in 1919.

Palms in the Zoo’s landscape are not just purely decorative. The leaves and trunks are used for browse and enrichment for the animal collection, and can also be utilized for special event décor. Some of the Horticulture department’s favorite specimens are the historic Silver Palms (Coccothrinax argentata) on Bear Loop, the Flamethrower Palms (Chambeyronia macrocarpa) near Canyon’s Edge picnic area, and the Marquesas Palm (Pelagodoxa henryana) to the right of the tiger picture cutout.

Nothing adds a tropical ambiance to gardens quite like palm trees.  Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is uniquely situated in a part of Florida that can grow a wide variety of palms beyond the twelve species native to the state.  There are 2,600 species of palms known to science.  They occur on every continent, with the exception of Antarctica, and inhabit a wide variety of ecosystems.  Some interesting facts about palms is that they hold the record for largest inflorescence (cluster of flowers) of any plant on Earth (Corypha spp.), the largest seed (Lodoicea maldivica- Coco de Mer), and the largest leaf in the plant kingdom (Raphia regalis)!

The use of palm trees in the landscape at Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens goes all the way back to the property’s founder, Dr. Henry Nerhling.  Some of the specimens he planted in the 1900s can still be seen today, such as the Silver Palms on Bear Loop and the Puerto Rican Hat Palm in the Black Bear Hammock exhibit. The last of the original Royal palms he planted at the entrance to his home was unfortunately lost during Hurricane Irma.  Since Nerhling’s time, palms have been added to the landscape by both Julius Fleischmann and the Tetzlaff family through the years. 

The zoo is currently growing over 100 species of palms in the landscape and the nursery area that will be planted out when they mature. It’s very fitting that we have 100 species of palms as we celebrate our 100th anniversary of our garden, which was founded in 1919.

 Palms in the Zoo’s landscape are not just purely decorative. The leaves and trunks are used for browse and enrichment for the animal collection, and can also be utilized for special event décor. Some of the Horticulture department’s favorite specimens are the historic Silver Palms (Coccothrinax argentata) on Bear Loop, the Flamethrower Palms (Chambeyronia macrocarpa) near Canyon’s Edge picnic area, and the Marquesas Palm (Pelagodoxa henryana) to the right of the tiger picture cutout.

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