The Arizona Palm and Cycad Association is dedicated to increasing the availability, knowledge and enjoyment of palms and cycads suitable to the lower Sonoran Desert environs of the Phoenix and Tucson area.
Our next meeting has not been scheduled yet. Please check back!
If you would like to become a member or host a meeting, please contact Mark Kiah
The Arizona Palm and Cycad Association evolved through the common interest of local enthusiasts passionate about palms and cycads. We endeavor to increase the knowledge, propagation, availability, landscape use, and overall enjoyment of the many species of these plants suitable to the lower Sonoran Desert environments. Because of the extremes of temperature (both hot and cold) that we experience here, many people are surprised to discover the large number of palm and cycad species that thrive in the Phoenix and Tucson regions. Members of our group have been successfully growing more than four different genera and seventeen different species of palms and more than seven different genera and fifteen different species of cycads. The palms and cycads in the photos on our web site are all growing in Arizona.
If you would like to learn more about growing and enjoying new as well as established species of palms and cycads in the Sonoran Desert or would like to share your passion and achievements with others, please join us!
Iraqi refugee tends Poly palms
Reporter Laura Palmisano brings us the story of one man who fled Iraq at the start of the war, but now lives in Arizona. He works as a volunteer at the date palm grove located on the ASU Polytechnic campus. As Cronkite News reporter Laura Palmisano tells us, the palms remind him of home. East Valley Tribune.
By Brad Hall
March 6, 2011
Hidden away in a little Phoenix neighborhood is a cluster of some of the most beautiful, and rare, palm trees in the world. They are called The Black Sphinx Palms, an unusual variety of Phoenix dactylifera. What makes them unusual and rare is the fruit, which is unique to this variety, but what makes them beautiful is what anyone can see in the Arcadia neighborhood where they have been growing for over 70 years. And they are found nowhere else in the world.
I visited this neighborhood today along with our Association Vice President Monte Crawford, and I can truly say that is well worth the trip. These giant beauties create a canopy that makes this neighborhood absolutely magical. A few blocks away, where the palms no longer stand majestically, the magic vanishes. Currently there is some controversy about the local power company, Salt River Project, wanting to cut some of them down, even paying homeowners to do, as these giant trees are growing too close to power lines, threatening a fire hazard or power outage. Many people in the neighborhood are worried about losing these beautiful trees, so hopefully some compromise will be reached between the power company and the homeowners. These heirloom trees make this neighborhood, and it wouldn't be the same without them.
If you want to visit this neighborhood, go south on 44th Street just below Camelback and look for the biggest cluster of the biggest palm trees you have ever seen in your life. You can't miss it!
By the way, I am informed by one of our members that you can't grow a Black Sphinx Date Palm from the seed of one of the fruits - you need to plant an offshoot, and trees this old don't produce any. When they are gone, they will be gone forever.
By Brad Hall
April 13, 2013 at St. Anthony's Monastery, which is located eight miles south of Florence, Arizona, off Highway 79. The tour of this beautiful oasis in the desert was conducted by the Arizona Palm and Cycad Association Treasurer, Mark Kiah, who was instrumental in helping St. Anthony's with their extensive planting of palm trees in the late 1990s. Just inside of the entrance, as the group arrived, one of the monks was pollinating a Phoenix Dactylifera, which is grown not only for its beauty but for its delicous and nutritious dates. The grounds of the monastery has an eccectic combination of various palm trees and desert plants along with annuals and roses.
Afterwards the group enjoyed a delicous lunch at Mount Athos Restaurant and Cafe.
May 13th, 2012, at the home of Monte and Cynthia Crawford in Apache Junction, Arizona. Duke Benadom, former president of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America (national) and a frequent traveler and speaker gave a presentation of his recent trip to Uganda and Encephalartos whitelockii. Drinks and light refreshments were served.
May 21, 2011, at the Arizona State University Polytechnic Campus, which is located at the former decommissioned Williams Air Force base in Mesa, Arizona. There are 138 Date palms of about forty different cultivars planted there, including the Black Sphinx cultivar. Date palm experts Ron Palmer, volunteer, and Deborah Thirkhill, Program Coordinator for the ASU Arboretum, gave a tour and talk for the group. To find out more about getting involved as a volunteer at the ASU Arboretum, go to Ground Services Volunteer Program and contact Deborah Thirkill. After the meeting, several of the members, along with all of the club officers, met at Rubios to enjoy burritos and tacos. It was an excellent and informative meeting about the importance of preserving the quickly-disappearing varieties of Phoenix dactylifera here in Arizona.
June 19, 2010, at the home of Rodney Anderson of Phoenix. He gave a presentation on his visit to Argentina including photos of palms, cycads and historic sites. Rodney is likely the best grower of cycads in Arizona and because of his prolific collection, seating was limited to 15 people, which quickly filled out... folks came from as far away as Palm Springs (300+ miles). Sodas and light refreshments were served.
April 4, 2009, at the home of Monte and Cynthia Crawford in Apache Junction, Arizona. John Lavranos was our guest speaker. John Lavranos is perhaps the preeminent botanical explorer and adventurer of the later part of the 20th century. He has described several African Encephalartos and many succulents. His slide show will span nearly 50 yrs of his travels. The topics included African cycads, arboresent aloes and xerophytic dracaena. This gathering was open to all members of the Arizona Palm and Cycad Association who are currently paid as of 2009 dues as well as members of the National Cycad Society. As usual, food and drink were served.
October 18th, 2008, at a private garden in Phoenix Arizona. Palm expert Bob Claesgens hosted at his tropical paradise in South Phoenix. Of especial interest were examples of his cross of Phoenix rupicola and Phoenix reclinata. Bob states that the rupicola, although a beautiful palm, is much too slow growing and that the cross of it and the reclinata provides a quicker-growing tree with all of the beauty of a rupicola. There were also examples of Paurotis and Sable palms and many cycads. The meeting went from 1 p.m. to about 4:30 p.m. and refreshments were served including some very tasty chocolate-chip cookies!
April 26, 2008, at a private garden in Phoenix, Arizona. Arizona palm expert Scott Walkowicz presented on his recent trip to Santo Domingo. Refreshments and food were served. Palm and cycad seeds were distributed to all current paid members of the association. Members brought palms and cycads for sale. The meeting began at noon and the presentation went from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. followed by a short officers meeting.
February 2, 2008, at a private residence in Phoenix, Arizona. The festivities began at noon, with a presentation by palm and cycad expert Tom Broome of Florida at 2 pm. Tom is a famous authority on propagation and growing in general. He shared two decades of knowledge and tips on cycad and palm cultivation, including very interesting information on cycad propagation. Membership in the association was not required. Refreshments were served.
November 10, 2007, at a private residence in Apache Junction, Arizona. Renown cycad expert Loran Whitelock was the guest speaker. His presentation was on "Possible Cycads for the Phoenix Climate" which included Ceratozamia hildae, Ceratozamia zaragozae, Ceratozamia zoquorum, Cycas angulata, Cycas basaltica, Cycas beddomei, Cycas brunnea, Cycas cairnsiana. Cycas calciola, Cycas couttsiana, Cycas furfuracea, Cycas lane-poolei, Cycas media, Cycas megacarpa, Cycas panzhihuanensis, Cycas platyphilla, Cycas pruinosa, Cycas taitungensis, Cycas tanshachana, Dioon califanoi, Dioon caputoi, Dioon edule subspecies edule, Dioon edule subspecies angustifolium, Dioon holmgreni, Dioon merolae, Dioon purposii, Dioon sonorense, Dioon tomaselli, Encephelartos caffer, Encephelartos cerinus, Encephelartos cupidus, Encephelartos cycadifolius, Encephelartos dolomiticus, Encephelartos dyerianus, Encephelartos eugene-maraisii, Encephelartos friderici-guilielmi, Encephelartos ghellickii (grass veldt form), Encephelartos hirsutus, Encephelartos horridus, Encephelartos humilus, Encephelartos inopinus, Encephelartos laevifolius, Encephelartos lanatus, Encephelartos latifrons, Encephelartos lehamnni, Encephelartos longifolius, Encephelartos middleburgensis, Encephelartos nubimontanus, Encephelartos princeps, Encephelartos trispinosus, Lepidozamia peroffskynana, Macrozamia communis, Macrozamia diplomera, Macrozamia dyeri, Macrozamia fraseri, Macrozamia glaucophylla, Macrozamia heteromera, Macrozamia johnsonii, Macrozamia macdonnellii, Macrozamia moorei, Macrozamia riedlei, Macrozamia stenomera, Stangeria eriopus, Zamia angustiolia, Zamia encepharlartoides, Zamia furfurcea, Zamia inermis, Zamia lucayana and Zamia spartea.
April 28th, 2007, at a private residence in Scottsdale, Arizona. Members brought their plants for sale or trade. Bryan Brown gave a presentation of his trip to the Amazon.
October 28, 2006, at a a private garden in Apache Junction, Arizona. Susan and Bruce Ironmonger presented slides of their recent trip to cycad habitat in South Africa. Hard-to-find Australian cycads were available for purchase. Refreshments were served.
Adapted from The South African Cycad Journal, originally written by Danie Nel
It's easy! Just follow these simple steps and watch your cycad grow!
Remove the black base of a 2 liter plastic bottle by pouring some hot water into the bottle.
Cut off the neck of the bottle (see the sketch).
Place a few small stones in the bottom of the black section and cover it with a mixture of equal volumes of potting soil and river sand. If you do not have potting soil, just mix some compost into ordinary soil.
The soil must be moist, but not too wet.
Plant the seeds so that they are covered with soil. If they are too deep, they will take longer to grow.
Turn the bottle upside down and place the open end over the black base. Remove the top once a week and water the soil (but do not overwater).
Place the bottle in a warm spot but not in direct sunlight.
The seeds should germinate within four to five months.
Leave the seedlings in the bottle for about three weeks (not longer).
Transplant the seedlings to a plastic plant bag with potting soil.
Place the seedlings in a protected place and water them once a week.
When the seedlings reach a leaf height of 300 mm (about 12 inches), they can be planted out into the garden.
Congratulations! Thank you for doing your bit towards the survival of the cyads and creating a friendlier, healthier world for all to live in!
By Brad Hall
The Bottle palm is from Round Island in the Indian Ocean which is part of the Mascarene Island group. There are said to be fewer than 15 specimens left in its native habitat.
The Bottle Palm has a large swollen (sometimes bizarrely so) trunk. It is a myth that the trunk is a means by which the palm stores water. Bottle Palm has only four to six leaves open at any time. The flowers of the palm arise from under the crownshaft.
Bottle palms are very cold sensitive and are killed at 32°F (0°C) or colder for any appreciable length of time. They may survive a brief, light frost, but will have foliage damage. Only southern Florida provides a safe location in the USA to grow Bottle Palm, although mature flowering specimens may be occasionally be seen in favored microclimates around Cape Canaveral and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater in coastal central Florida. It makes a fine container-grown palm in other locations as long as it is protected from the cold and not overwatered.
While habitat destruction may destroy the last remaining palms in the wild, the survival of the species is assured due to its planting throughout the tropics as a specimen plant.
By Mark Kiah
Although palms can be planted any time of the year, it is important to carefully monitor the amount of heat or cold the site experiences for six months after planting to insure success. Palms slow down or stop growth completely during our cooler months and when planted during this time may take as long as 6 months to establish new roots due to lower soil temperatures. At this time, they will need less water and fertilizer.
Watering twice weekly in winter is usually enough although, in soil that drains well, 3 times a week is okay. Palms establish roots quickly during our warm months (April-October) due to the higher soil temperatures. Trees planted from early spring through summer usually set new roots in 2-3 months
Watering three times a week is best during summer months when temperatures exceed 100 degrees. Daily irrigation is allowed in fast draining soils, however in heavy clay, watering every other day with a longer cycle will allow deeper watering and encourage roots to grow deeper. This will help them stay cooler in summer and will minimize leaf burn. Skipping a day between watering also allows good soil drainage so roots can absorb the oxygen they need to stay healthy.
The Cycad Society is now offering a “Key to the Species of Dioon” and "Key to the Species of Ceratozamia" posters for sale, beautifully printed in full color and suitable for framing. The price is only $20 plus shipping. To order a copy, contact Tom Wichman, the Education Director of The Cycad Society, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Proceeds from the sale of the posters will go toward cycad research, conservation, and education.
The Arizona Palm and Cycad Association is an official chapter of the International Palm Society
To find out more contact Association Vice President Monte Crawford.
Updated January 16, 2014