Rare palm—it may be carnivorous—will replace ones cut down at Botanical Gardens

October 18, 2016
removing palm tree at Buffalo Erie County Botanical Gardens

A worker from Above & Beyond Tree Expert Company takes down a Carpentaria palm at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. It was one of two palms that were taken down last week because they had outgrown the space. Photo courtesy Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

New palm trees, including a rare palm that may be carnivorous, will be installed this fall in the Main Palm Dome at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens after two palms had to be removed last week because they had outgrown the space.

The two palms that were removed were actually touching the ceiling and would have died.

“If the new growth at the very top breaks, the entire tree dies,” explained Erin Grajek, associate vice president of Marketing & Visitor Experience at the Botanical Gardens.

The trees that were removed were a Teddy Bear palm and a Carpentaria palm. They were planted in the ground in the Main Palm Dome when that dome was completely renovated in 2001. The palms, which were 50 to 60 feet high, had matured taller than expected and outgrew the space.

The Botanical Gardens’ education team plans to repurpose parts of the palms for docent training and as additional material for workshops.

John and Carol Kociela, longtime supporters of the Botanical Gardens, provided the resources for removing the two palms as well as for the acquisition and installation of several new specimens.

One of those new specimens will be a Jata palm or Copernicia rigida, which is interesting because some botanists think it may be carnivorous, Grajek said. It’s native to Cuba and may have evolved this trait due to lack of nutrients in the soil after the Ice Age, when its habitat was desert. Small animals get trapped in its leaves, and when the animals rot, they provide nutrients for the plant.

“Creepy,” Grajek said. “It is rare and a really cool specimen to have in our collection.”

The Botanical Gardens is a living museum, said David Swarts, president/CEO, so it is important to add new and interesting specimens to the collection.

The other new palms include a Betel palm, Areca catechu, native to the tropical pacific; a Vilaito palm, Neoveitchia storckii, native to Fiji; Calyptrocalyx leptostachys, native only to the rainforests of Mt. Yule, Papua New Guinea, and a Buccaneer palm, Pseudophoenix vinifera, native to the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

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One Response to Rare palm—it may be carnivorous—will replace ones cut down at Botanical Gardens

  1. David Clark on October 19, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    I have seen the construction and reconstruction happening at our Buffalo and Erie County Botanical gardens…it is exciting to hear news on the new palm specimens that are to be installed! Thank you for this article Connie!

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