cluster of palm trees

The life of palms

It's a wonderful tree

The spring haircuts being given to all the palm trees around Palm Springs has focused my attention and made me appreciate more this signature tree. In addition to the peculiar haircut ritual that surrounds it, the tree itself is quite amazing.

fan on the palm frondlady bug on palm frond

The particular variety of palm tree here in my complex and over most of the town is the fan palm, so named, one has to assume, because of the way the green stuff fans out from the end of the frond. Except at the ends of the ribs, it is solid, connected. You could say that each palm frond is one big leaf.

While inspecting one of the short trees by my door, I found a ladybug out for a stroll on the palm.

new frond

A new frond grows from the very tip of the tree, straight up. "Threads" of the leaf fiber fray from the edges, I suppose as the leaf grows bigger and bigger and opens up.

teeth on palm frond

And, like so many things in the desert, the palm frond protects itself with sharp teeth all along both edges of the stalk.

The top of the stalk is somewhat concave, which has the effect of creating a channel that would drain any raindrops right to the center of the tree. I don't know if this is "on purpose," or if the tree has the ability to absorb water at the base of the fronds, but it wouldn't surprise me if it did.

Then there is the matter of the way the tree forms its seeds and disperses them. In the spring, long, spikey, antler-like things start to grow from the top of the tree. These open up and look, from the ground, like flowers. Although I personally haven't climbed one of the trees to inspect, I'm quite sure these are actually seeds.

climbing palm tree to administer annual haircut mess left by palm tree haircuts

Finally, there is the palms' unique relationship with humans, who give the tree its annual haircut and make a tremendous mess that has to be cleaned up and carted off — somewhere.