Let's just talk about two of the most common palms down here - our native Texas sabal and the
|Mexican Fan Palm|
The Mexican fan palm grows 36 inches a year, maturing at 80-100 feet. Although it's not native, it has naturalized here. Birds have spread the seeds through our brushlines and native habitat. A few people even consider it invasive. But it is a wonderful food source for many birds. We have been lucky enough to observe a flock of small parrots feeding on the ripe fruit. We kept hearing something hit the ground - it was the seed they spit out after consuming the fruit! Mexican fan palms line the highways and many boulevards throughout south Texas. It does well in parking lots, grouped in large open areas, and in the landscape of a tall building. In a typical residential landscape, it may look more like a telephone pole than a palm.
Similar but not the same. Here are the differences to look for:
- Texas sabal has a smooth frond stem with no spines; Mexican fan has short, dark thorns along the base of the leaf stem.
- Texas sabal has larger fronds (5-8 feet wide) than the Mexican fan (3-5 feet wide)
- Texas sabal has a larger, fuller canopy.
- Texas sabal trunk is thicker than a Mexican fan's - about 30" in diameter - and it is more likely to have its boots.
Take my challenge to learn to identify different palm trees growing in south Texas!