Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Don't Hate Me Because My Palmettos Are Beautiful

These are the palmettos that live along our sandy driveway. I'm just a frame of reference in the top picture so you can grasp how unpalmettoey these palmettos are. Most palmettos grow horizontally and the fronds only come up to about waist level. (The frond at far left is from a pindo palm ... not palmetto)
I wrote about palmettos a while back, but did not have a shot of these tall, shade grown beauties, so I thought I'd share these today.

Inside the gallery, looking up.

That brown fibrous covering around the trunk is very useful stuff. First immigrant Floridians used it to weave cordage and cloth. The bird and squirrel (treerats!) love it for nest lining material. I'm sure Survivor Man would tell us it is good tinder ... and he would be correct.

I taught a student once, Jason, who could make the coolest mouth whistle by taking a piece of palmetto frond doing a quick slice, tuck, and fold with his pocket knife (it was before we were all so freaked out by a boy with a pocket knife). He showed me how several times, but now, it's been years and I would have to ask him to teach me again.

What a neat kid. He was smart enough to be successful in college, but knew what he wanted, and it wasn't college. He wanted to get a job and work just enough so he could hunt, fish, look for arrowheads, and be outside. He drives a dumptruck for the road department now, but he can nap an arrowhead that would put the Clovis folks to shame.

I drove past his family's homesite last weekend and noticed they were having a yard sale. There were the usual handmade signs advertising the sale along the road like Burma Shave signs. One of them said, "Arrowheads For Sale".

I wonder if they were found or recently napped by Jason.
Oh well, "buyer beware" as they say.

Leaning towards the light.

Credit for these lovely palmettos should go to the unseen live oaks that shade them most of the day. They are the artists who collaborated on this project.

I'm just the maintenance man who trims the old fronds and admires their handywork in this quiet, green art gallery.

P.S. If the title of this post seems odd ... odder than usual I mean, you're just too young to remember an old hair product commercial.


Mark said...

I have a friend only a couple of years older than I am who tells me of being in JROTC in an Atlanta high school. On the days when they met (or whatever they did), he brought is rifle to school and kept it in his locker.

David said...

Another great thing about palmettos (works best on Serenoa repens but can be done on Sabal etonia): they taste great! Grab tight of one of the young shoots from the center of the plant and pull straight up. At the end of the fond, nibble off the end. It should be soft and nutty tasting. This tasty snack can be found anywhere palmettos grow and it doesn't seem to hurt the plant. Black bears readily do the same trick sustaining themselves before the berries come out in the late spring and early summer. I've seen bear sign where bears have harvested from the same palmettos multiple times in a season. Enjoy!

Doug Taron said...

I love the palms and palmettos of Florida. On Big Pine Key, a nature walk that I enjoy has a sign explaining how to identify the native palms there (silver palm, thatch palm, and palmetto). I always enjoy using it to ID them while I'm walking through.

robin andrea said...

I've never read the expression "nap an arrowhead" before. Interesting. Do you have any of Jason's work? I'd love to see one. I remember watching a documentary once and seeing some scientists making arrowheads, just to see if they could match design and materials. Very interesting.

BTW-- I remember that commercial.

David said...

Technically it's "knap".


Sharon said...

OH yes, I remember :) It was almost as annoying as "She'll tell two friends, and so on, and so on...!

Looks like a nice, shady spot. And it's true, you don't often see them standing that tall...but I prefer the tall ones. I can see what's under them! ;)

Thunder Dave said...

I recognized the tag line, but then I'm sort of in the industry!

I honestly thought those were palms, not palmettos.

Speaking of arrow heads, if you remember my turtle wrangling tale, "Rod" is a local expert in these parts. It's a shame you didn't get to meet him when you were here.

SophieMae said...

Great trees!

You would have gotten along famously with my long-ago mentor. He dug (both definitions) old bottles and old, old, OLD artifacts of all sorts. Arrowheads, mastodon teeth, pottery... you name it, he had it. And knew nearly everything there was to kow about every bit of it. He was a much-sought-after guest in many a Volusia County classroom. He quite literally had several houses overflowing with his many collections. I believe his only child donated most of his treasures to local collectors, museums, etc.

Deb said...

I don't hate you. Even if your palmettos are beautiful. And I'm just old enough to slightly remember those commercials.

Floridacracker said...

I was in JROTC for 3 years, but we didn't get to do that. We did have a student parking lot full of trucks with rifles and shotguns during deer season though.

Been there ate that. Tastey is a matter of opinion, but it is definitely edible.
As for knap vs. nap, that was my first inclination, but when I googled to check, most of the first links said "nap" and I went with that in my prebreakfast rush.
Technically, I should have been out the door to work already instead of blogging, so that is to be expected.

Needle pine is one you would like. Pretty rarish, but just a cool little palm.

I used to have a little arrowhead he knapped from a bit of old glass. He did it in just a few minutes while I watched. I'll hunt for it.

Definitely a plus when you can see what lies beneath.

As I recall the actress in the commercial ... hate is not the emotion that comes to mind.

It's a great gift when a lifelong collector donates their treasures to the public. I like all the stuff in your list!!

Whew! I wasn't sure how showing off my palmettos would go over :)
I thought you would have just missed that commercial, but wasn't sure.

Thunder Dave said...

I think we're on the same page!