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This palm is known as the Halifax fan palm (Halifax Bay of Australia), the cabbage palm, or Drude’s Palm; the binomial name is Livistona Drude. German botanist Carl Georg Oscar Drude, after which the plant is named, was a botanist (1852-1933, never saw Australia) that left quite the impression through correspondence on Ferdinand von Mueller, who named the palm species. Livistona, the genus name of most of these fan palms I’ve showing videos of, was named after Patrick Murray, a 17th century Baron of Livingstone. Ferdinand was a German baron who lived from 1825-1896; he was a German-Australian physician, geographer, and most notably, a botanist. Back in those days it was typically members of the aristocracy that could afford to indulge in heavy intellectual pursuits, unlike the modern age in which almost anybody can become a scientist or explorer.

Drude’s palm can grow up to 20 meters high. It has been successfully introduced to Southern California where it is visually known to residents like me as “that palm that has a long, bendy, fragile-looking thin trunk that goes on forever and has a tuft of foliage at the top.” The trunk is only 30 cm in diameter at most at the base, and is only 17-23 cm across on top. The foliage is attractive at the sapling stage shown in this video, but will grow far out of human sight later on.

Drude’s palm is endangered in Australia and considered rare due to habitat loss from Australian land development. Its native habitat is in melaleuca swamp forests (melaleuca is a myrtle plant with 200 species, most ofwhich are endemic to Australia) and the fringes of gallery or tropical rainforest bordering on eucalyptus forests. It grows in areas with boulders on streak banks on flat coastal plains, confined to non-seasonal riparian habitats that have at least water soaking the soil throughout the year. It is found in similar habitats above the upper limit of mangroves, near sheltered estuaries. An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of sea water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Most estuaries were formed during the Holocene epoch by the flooding of river-eroded or glacier-scoured valleys when the sea level began to rise about 10,000-12,000 years ago.
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Drude’s Palm, Livistona drudei, The Living Desert

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