That's actually a pic of one of my 3 tall palmettos that is dying. Went through this a couple years ago with 3 other tall palmettos, and thought ground voles had killed them. They may have played a small role in the demise of the first 3, but I now realize that not having them handled and installed by professionals is the cause of death. Poor things got knocked and bruised in transit from the nursery, and it took almost a year for the damage/decline to appear. I lost a lot of money trying to save money! Woe is me...
After talking with a palm guy at the Georgetown Clemson ext office, I no longer think all 3 of my palmettos died from being mishandled while being planted. He thinks my soil may contain the pathogen that causes ganoderma bud rot. He said this pathogen is in SC, so I'll be taking a soil sample to my local Clemson agent who will send it off for analysis. My cats did use the tallest for a scratching post and the trunk was deeply shredded, but he doesn't think that's the problem.
Has anybody heard of palms in SC being killed by ganoderma bud rot? This mystery is driving me nuts! Can hardly wait to get the results from my soil test.
Since I pulled the spear from my tallest palmettto 10 days ago, and accidentally posted a pic of it's gnarly trunk, it has sent up a new spear! And the soft spots on the trunk seem a little firmer. The other 2 palmettos I was also concerned about are growing new fronds and seem healthy. Guess I'll never know for sure, but I think dousing them w/fungicide, malathion, and hydrogen peroxide saved the tallest, and revived it's 2 smaller neighbors. Also grateful I didn't fall off the top rung of the ladder I had to dangle from while dousing my voodoo concoction over the tops of them.
I've also pulled spears from pindos and european fan palms, and saved them using the same technique. It's good to know that some palms can recover from spear pull.