Courtesy Lemon Bay Conservancy

On the Wildflower Preserve property, we are lucky to have a large number of native Sabal (aka Cabbage) Palm trees. The Sabal Palm is the state tree of Florida.  It is slow growing, but very hardy.  When a Sabal Palm starts from seed in the wild, research by the University of Florida indicates that it can take 15 years to initially develop a trunk.  After that, the trunk grow about 6 inches per year.  Add that up, and a tree with just a 15 foot trunk is likely to be 45 years old!  Sabal Palms provide great habitat for many other species.  Plants grow in the “boots” along the trunk, animals nest among the fronds, and birds eat the seeds.

Unlike most trees that are best transplanted when they are small, the unusual nature of the Sabal Palm root system makes it very difficult to transplant younger trees. However, mature trees can be successfully transplanted when proper techniques are used. To save as many Sabal Palms as possible at Wildflower, the design plans call for moving up to 120 mature Sabal Palms out of the new wetland footprint to other locations on the preserve property.  Brad Young, senior ecologist with ESA Scheda, was onsiite recently at the preserve to work with the Diversified Professional Services construction team on starting the transplant efforts. 

When you watch the transplant work in progress, to the untrained eye it seems unlikely that it could be successful.  However, the approach is widely used in landscape management and ESA Scheda has had high success rates with this methodology at other restoration projects. Click here for an overview of the transplant steps.

For more about Sabal Palms, here’s a good introductory article:
https://www.plantrealflorida.org/info/florida-ecosystems/sustaining-the-sabal-palm-floridas-state-tree/

For questions about the Wildflower Preserve restoration project, email Wildflower@LemonBayConservancy.org or call at the LBC office at 941-830-8922.