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The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms
     

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms

by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft, Scott Zona
 

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The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is the definitive account of all palms that can be grown for ornamental and economic use. Palms are often underutilized as a result of their unfamiliarity—even to tropical gardeners. To help introduce these valuable plants to a new audience, the authors have exhaustively documented every genus in the palm family.

Overview

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is the definitive account of all palms that can be grown for ornamental and economic use. Palms are often underutilized as a result of their unfamiliarity—even to tropical gardeners. To help introduce these valuable plants to a new audience, the authors have exhaustively documented every genus in the palm family.

825 species are described in detail, including cold hardiness, water needs, height, and any special requirements. Generously illustrated with more than 900 photos, including photos of several palm species that have never before appeared in a general encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is as valuable as an identification guide as it is a practical handbook. Interesting snippets of history, ethnobotany, and biology inform the text and make this a lively catalog of these remarkable plants.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Gallery of full-color plates illustrates precise species characteristics, while the book's second half offers descriptive text organized by alphabetized genus and species.” —Library Journal

​“Recommended for most large public and academic libraries, especially where there is an interest in horticulture.” —Booklist

Booklist

“Gallery of full-color plates illustrates precise species characteristics, while the book’s second half offers descriptive text organized by alphabetized genus and species."

Library Journal
Riffle (Tropical Look), Paul Craft (International Palm Soc.), and Scott Zona (Wertheim Conservatory, Florida International Univ.) precede this expanded field guide with a discussion of palm characteristics, decisive omissions, and a spread detailing palm taxonomy that delineates subfamilies, genera, and species. A gallery of full-color plates illustrates precise species characteristics, while the book's second half offers descriptive text organized by alphabetized genus and species. Multiparagraph entries prudently open with phonetically spelled taxonomic names and corresponding plate numbers, and detail location, physical description, and idiosyncrasies. VERDICT Supplants Don Ellison and Anthony Ellison's Betrock's Cultivated Palms of the World.
American Gardener - Laurie Hannah
"As a horticultural librarian, I am constantly looking for good books on palms, and I can tell you that this book is at the top of the list. Not only is it useful, accurate, and authoritative, but the authors' poetic language brought life to the book."—Laurie Hannah, American Gardener, May/June 200
Choice - S. C. Awe
"This ultimate, expansive resource on cultivated palms will guide horticulturists with all levels of expertise ... Highly recommended."—S. C. Awe, Choice, September 2003
American Gardener
"As a horticultural librarian, I am constantly looking for good books on palms, and I can tell you that this book is at the top of the list. Not only is it useful, accurate, and authoritative, but the authors' poetic language brought life to the book."—Laurie Hannah, American Gardener, May/June 200
— Laurie Hannah
Choice
"This ultimate, expansive resource on cultivated palms will guide horticulturists with all levels of expertise ... Highly recommended."—S. C. Awe, Choice, September 2003
— S. C. Awe

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781604692051
Publisher:
Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
06/19/2012
Edition description:
2
Pages:
528
Sales rank:
639,970
Product dimensions:
8.60(w) x 11.00(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt


Palms are the most underused design elements in nearly every garden, even most of those in the tropics or subtropics. Fortunate indeed are gardeners who live in regions where at least a few palms grow, as their unique variety of forms cannot begin to be simulated by anything other than massive ferns, yuccas, and cordylines, which themselves are tropical or subtropical.

The biggest reason these princes of the plant world are eschewed even where they can be grown is probably lack of space: most palms species are relatively large. This problem is compounded by the gardener's desire for color. The desire is, of course, an important one, but color is greatly overused at the expense of variety of form. The smaller the garden, the more the use of color alone tends to become overwhelming and even tiring, somewhat analagous to eating a diet of cake and ice cream only, or listening to only one type of music. Variety is the operative word and is what palms excel at with their ineluctably different forms. In addition, palms are often coloful, especially the tropical species. Their crownshafts, inflorescences, and leaf colors are sometimes extraordinary. Palms lend to the landscape a more controlled and subtle color palette than that of most "flowering plants."

A few points should be considered when incorporating palms into the landscape. First, palms don't look good planted in straight lines, but what type of plant does? This arrangement is unnatural in the sense that it doesn't occur in nature. The larger palms are magnificence itself when lining streets or avenues, but the dictum still applies: a curving street, path, or driveway is infinitely more aesthetically pleasing than a straight one where variety is the missing element.

Second, palms generally look their best when planted in small groups or groves rather than as a single tree surrounded by space. Again, the reason is that palms do not occur singly in nature. Furthermore the discrete groups look best when the number of individuals are of varying heights; if each palm is the same height, the crowns visually "fight." Variety is the missing element in groups of same-height palms.

Third, a landscape whose horizon is basically at one level is incredibly less interesting and beautiful than one of varying levels. Nothing fixes the imbalance better than using palms as canopy-scapes, where the crowns of trees float above the general level of the surrounding vegetation. Such palms substitute remarkably well for a lack of mountains. Again, variety of form!

Fourth, the wall of vegetation that constitutes the horizon of the garden is so much less appearling if it is of one form or of one color. There are no plants better suited to fix this than palms, whether large or small, fan leaved or feather leaved. Palms are the sine-qua-non elements to create the needed form and texture. Again, variety of form!

A few palm species are so large and impressive that they can be advantageously planted alone as specimen plants surrounded by space and still look good. They would look even better if planted in groups, but the size or other limitations of a given landscape or garden can often make this difficult or impossible.

Meet the Author

Paul Craft trained as a chemist and is vice president of the International Palm Society. A resident of Florida, he was the founding president of the Palm Beach Palm and Cycad Society and also a palm nurseryman. He is currently active in efforts to promote palm conservation.

Robert Lee Riffle (1940–2006) was an internationally recognized authority on palms and tropical plants. His landmark book, The Tropical Look: An Encyclopedia of Dramatic Landscape Plants (1998), won an American Horticultural Society Book Award, as did An Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms (2003), which he co-wrote with Paul Craft. For 25 years Bob was a strong presence online, answering questions and encouraging gardeners in their endeavors via postings on garden and plant message boards. He generously shared his extensive knowledge gently and with wit as the moderator of the International Palm Society's active PalmTalk message board. Bob was an accomplished pianist, a gifted photographer, and an enthusiastic film buff. He had finished writing the manuscript for the Timber Press Pocket Guide to Palms when he passed away unexpectedly.

Scott Zona grew up among the palms of South Florida and was smitten by them at an early age. For nearly 15 years, he was the palm biologist for Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami. He has made field collections of palms from throughout the world and completed several important taxonomic monographs of ornamental palms. He is currently the curator of the Wertheim Conservatory at Florida International University.

Author of nearly 100 articles on palms, both popular and technical, Zona is also the co-editor of PALMS, the quarterly journal of the International Palm Society, an organization to which he has belonged for more than 30 years. He teaches and lectures all over the world about tropical plants, and grows palms and other tropical plants at his home in Miami.

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