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Article: Jubaea chilensis, the Chilean Wine Palm- World's Largest Palm Tree: Jubaea Palm

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Newark, CA

February 11, 2009
3:39 AM

Post #6122498

Hi Geoff,

Very nice article and pictures of the Juabaea Palms. I love Jubaea Palms and have been planting them in our Parks in Union City, Ca. USA. We have a couple planted at the Shinn Arboretum in Fremont , Ca. that were planted in 1878 and are the blue form. My friend B.J. Bunting collects the seeds and grows them for me. We know there being planted for our future crop of gardeners and interested citizens to admire. I have ate the coconuts and they are great! The Jubaea Palm was cultivated by John Rock (Nurseryman) in San Jose, Ca. in 1865. I have almost 200 Jubaeas to plant.

Kind Regards

Nelson Kirk

More Jubaea History
Dear Hugh,
Just today I received a tremendously helpful email from Thomas A. Brown. It seems to answer all the questions I had about Jubaea and Ph. canariensis introduction in California. I'd hate for you to waste time covering the same ground, so I copy the four paragraphs below:

In California, the first mention of Jubaea I have is Sexton's nursery in Santa Barbara, offered in 1877. This is followed by one specimen on the Univ. of California campus at Berkeley, planted ca. 1877 (pretty near the northern limit of its range), and by two large specimens at the Charles Shinn home in Niles, planted in 1878, as already related to you by Mr Nelson Kirk. These 3 examples still exist. The earliest catalogue of John Rock (nÚ Johan Fels) in San JosÚ that I have seen is 1873. Shinn was a horticultural writer of note in Northern California, and maintained a large trial garden. As he sometimes sold plants, he is sometimes listed as a nurseryman.
Roeding, who owned the Fancher Creek Nursery in Fresno, around 1884 went into partnership with John Rock and R. D. Fox, both of San JosÚ, to form the California Nursery Company, moving the San JosÚ operations to Niles where land was cheaper and water was available from the creek in Niles Canyon. This nursery lasted until the 1980s when it was sold for housing developments. The original adobe office and a few plants around it were retained, however. Roeding offered Jubaea chilensis in Fresno in 1886. John Sievers offered it in San Francisco the same year, and Kinton Stevens offered it in Santa Barbara in 1891.

Phoenix canariensis was listed among the plants of Woodward's Gardens in San Francisco in 1874, and the nurserymen Miller & Sievers offered it in their nursery just across the street the same year. Woodward's Gardens was a sort of early Disneyland. Woodward had opened his private art gallery to the public during the Civil War as a fundraiser for wounded veterans. As only so many people could be accommodated in the gallery at any one time, the overflow was allowed to roam the gardens. This led to Woodward moving to Napa County, and making the San Francisco place a place of amusement for an admission fee. The conservatory was kept stocked with rare cacti and succulents, a pond with small boats for children to ride in was added, and a menagerie was later added in an adjacent block, reached by a tunnel under the street. Miller and Sievers offered for sale most of the same plants, so there must have been some arrangement. They later split, each having his own nursery.

I have not been able to find all the catalogues of all the nurserymen in the state (there were 400 before 1900!) but Phoenix canariensis seems to have had a spurt of popularity starting around 1882, being offered by John Rock in San JosÚ, by Edward Gill in Oakland in 1889, Kinton Stevens in Santa Barbara in 1891, Toichi Domoto in Oakland in 1893, the California Nursery Co. in Niles the same year, Roeding in Frresno in 1896 and Theodora Burr Shepherd in Ventura, also in 1896. With us it grows at a fairly reliable rate of 6 inches of brown trunk a year. It has been extensively planted all over California.

Scott Zona

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