Some Interesting Palms for Your Garden

Richard Lyons’ Nursery is proud to carry a good selection of plants across a broad group of families. Even though our emphasis is on flowering trees and shrubs and fruit trees, we also enjoy growing a number of interesting palm species. Here are thumbnail sketches of some of the palms we currently have at the nursery:

Chamaerops humilis, the European Fan Palm, the only palm species native to mainland Europe, doesn’t require tropical conditions to thrive, but still does well in our climate. It grows slowly to 10-12 ft. and is hardy to about 15 degrees. Plant in full sun in well-drained soil.

Chelyocarpus chuco, a native of Bolivia and Brazil, is still uncommon locally. It produces glossy, circular palmate leaves and grows to 30-40 ft. in southern Florida. Seedlings need light shade, but older plants handle full sun. This species thrives in moist soils and can withstand 30-32 degrees.

Coccothrinax crinita, the popular Old Man Palm, is endemic to Cuba. The undersides of its palmate leaves are silvery. In our region, this sun-loving species can reach 25 ft. slowly. It requires moderate water and good drainage, but is drought-tolerant once established.

Coccothrinax miraguama, another palm endemic to Cuba, is noted not only for the silvery undersides of its palmate leaves, but also for the interesting pattern of fibers on its trunk. It encompasses four subspecies. Mature height is 15-20 ft. Provide a sunny setting, moderate water, and good drainage.

Coccothrinax proctorii, endemic to the Cayman Islands, is another member of its genus to feature leaves which are silvery on the undersides. Plant it in a sunny exposure. It requires moderate water and good drainage, but once established, it is drought-tolerant. Mature height is 15-25 ft.

Coccothrinax spissa differs from most other species in the genus: 1) Seedlings require some shade and 2) The trunk is fairly stout and often swollen in the middle. Native to Hispaniola, it reaches 15-20 ft. in our region. Provide sun and moderate watering. Once established, it tolerates drought well.

Copernicia macroglossa, the Cuban Petticoat Palm, is noted for the distinctive skirt of old leaves that persists around the trunk of the plant for many years. Like many species in its genus, C. macroglossa accommodates copious amounts of water very well, but also handles drought extremely well once established. It reaches 20-25 ft. in southern Florida.

Dypsis cabadae is a water-loving species that was almost unknown here 30 years ago. Its dark green stems with white rings marking where leaves once were gives this palm a bamboo-like appearance. A water-loving species, it reaches 30-40 ft. at maturity and can be grown in light shade to sun. It is native to islands off the coast of Madagascar.

Gaussia maya is one of a small number of palms which flowers from several sites up and down the trunk. The payoff is lots of bright red fruit. Native to Mexico, Belize and Guatemala, it should be grown in shade when young, but can later tolerate more sun. It reaches 20-30 ft. in southern Florida. Provide ample water for best results.

Heterospathe elata, the Sagisi Palm, is native to several southeast Asian island chains. It bears a very full crown of feather-shaped leaves, the newest of which emerges a reddish-brown color before turning green. Requiring shade when young, this species tolerates full sun when older, and it matures in the 30-40 ft. range. Provide ample water.

Licuala grandis, the Ruffled Fan Palm, is native to Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. It is a striking small palm featuring nearly circular leaves that look as if they’ve been cut out by pinking shears. Best grown in shade when young, this species tolerates more sun later. Given generous amounts of water, it will reach 15 ft. slowly in southern Florida.

Sabal mauritiiformis, the Savannah or Bay Leaf Palm, is native to moist settings from southern Mexico to northern South America. In our region, this palmate species reaches 30-50 ft. Unlike most palms that grow trunks, the leaf bases of S. mauritiiformis remain green a long time. It can be grown in light shade when young and then given sunnier exposures when older.

Serenoa repens is the Saw Palmetto, whose seeds are the source of an extract recommended in alternative medicine circles as beneficial to prostate health. A Florida native, it is a small, slow-growing species whose mildly fragrant flowers are a rarity in the palm world. Stems of this clustering species commonly ‘crawl’ along the ground and, over time, can extend several feet from the center of the plant.

These palm species are available at Richard Lyons’ Nursery in a variety of container sizes. We’re open every day of the week but Thursday.

Oriental Fruit Fly Quarantine May Soon End

Growers in Miami-Dade County are beginning to show some optimism concerning the outbreak of Oriental fruit fly. That’s because the quarantine is within weeks of being lifted.

The Oriental fruit fly is one of the most aggressive fruit flies known worldwide. It has been responsible for considerable damage to citrus in Japan and to mangos in the Philippines. Since 1964, when the pest was found in southern Florida for the first time, it has been contained on 10 different occasions. Ominously, more flies have been found in the latest outbreak than in any of the previous 10. The price for failure to eradicate the insect is great: It attacks more than 430 vegetables, fruits and nuts in our region!

Since the current outbreak of the dreaded fly was first spotted in late August 2015, 85 square miles in the southern part of Miami-Dade County were quarantined. Later on, the area was enlarged. Under the protocols of the eradication program, the quarantine will be lifted at the end of the third life cycle since the date on which the last Oriental fruit fly was detected. The target date is tentatively believed to be February 12, but the exact time is temperature-dependent. When temperatures are warm, as they have been most of the winter, the fly’s life cycle is shorter. However, cooler temperatures lengthen the life cycle, and lately our region has experienced a couple of cool snaps.

But barring any surprises, growers throughout southern Florida should be able to breathe a sigh of relief very soon, and our worst outbreak of Oriental Fruit Fly will be a thing of the past.

Tips from Brooks Tropicals for Healthy Breakfast Treats

From time to time, Richard Lyons’ Nursery likes to pass along newsletters produced by Brooks Tropicals. Here’s a recent one — emphasizing nutritional breakfast ideas — that is particularly timely in view of the expected chilly weather coming up for our region.


Power up for 2016Power up daily with a healthy breakfast

Caribbean fruit crumble Breakfast matters. It’s the most important meal of the day.

Are your taste buds getting mixed messages?

If the meal is so important, why eat the same cereal, the same toast, the same fruit every single breakfast.

Solo breakfast bake Also important: nutrition. Cereal and toast are not the healthiest things to eat.

Nothing’s wrong with the fruit you’re currently enjoying at the break of day. But your taste buds do like diversity, which tropicals can deliver.

Breakfast pizza Before pulling on the snow boots, pull off an easy, great-tasting breakfast with the nutrition you’ll need to put your best foot – even when clad in a snow boot – forward this winter.

Oatmeal, the new breakfast pudding

Tropical refrigerator overnighter And it couldn’t be easier. Refrigerator oatmeal “cooks” this breakfast overnight.

Scoop the oats, milk and yogurt into a container and-voila-you’ve got a creamy, almost pudding-like oatmeal the next morning.

Nice but add some tropical fruits and oatmeal takes on a dessert quality. Papaya, starfruit, coconut, passionfruit and even Uniq Fruit are excellent additions.

You’ll still want some sugar, but you won’t add as much. Tropical fruits amp up the sweetness quite naturally.

Don’t give up toast entirely

Tropical papaya jam Just don’t smother the toast with butter.

Take a knife to this jam made with Caribbean Red papaya, and have at it. It’s made with honey, so it’s quick and easy to make with no preservatives and no canning process to endure.

Stay warm.

Yours in the tropics,
Mary Ostlund



Uniq Fruit and starfruit oatmeal

Uniq fruit and starfruit oatmeal Oatmeal with a great light tropical taste…

Recipe Details

Uniq Fruit and starfruit breakfast salad

Uniq fruit breakfast salad A taste of the tropics that makes breakfast a little extra special…

Recipe Details

Coco papaya oatmeal sleepover

Coco papaya oatmeal sleepover Combine, stir and refrigerate the ingredients at night, and enjoy this the next day…

Recipe Details

Tropical ambrosia

Uniq fruit ambrosia This is an easy-to-make ambrosia that stays fresh in your refrigerator for up to a week…

Recipe Details


Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 45
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat 0.5g
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0g
Sodium 2.7mg
Total Carbohydrate 10.7g
Dietary Fibers 3.7g
Sugars 7g
Protein .7g


Winter Rains Taking a Toll on Plants in Our Region

A month ago in this space, we reported our expectation that plants being grown in southern Florida would be prone to disease problems if the unusual pattern of significant winter rainfall were to continue. Well, the pattern has continued, and local plants are definitely showing the strain.

What can homeowners do to prevent the outbreak of fungal and bacterial leaf spot diseases, as well as mildews and wilts, in their ornamental, vegetable, and fruit plants? In a practical sense, not much. Lots of leaf spot diseases start in the droplets of water that stand on leaves following rainfall. You can’t hand-dry the leaves, so only a brisk breeze that hastens evaporation of the droplets is helpful in that regard. What you are able to do, however, is to inspect your plants frequently so that you can react quickly to an outbreak and embark on a chemical program to address it. (For future plantings, particularly when it comes to vegetable crops, you can also find out which cultivars are most resistant to the diseases we encounter in southern Florida.)

As we have noted a number of times in the past, the county extension service (IFAS) is a great source of information for dealing with the array of afflictions that may affect our plants. The Extension Connextion is a quarterly IFAS publication that addresses a lot of interesting agricultural matters. In the Winter 2015 issue (, we direct your attention to the “Update from the Florida Extension Plant Diagnostic Clinic,” as well as “Tomato Chlorotic Spot Virus (TCSV): A Serious Threat to the Tomato Industry.” Both not only provide timely reporting, but also include links to sources of more detailed information. Did you know, for instance, that, for a fee, you can submit plant disease samples for diagnosis?