Sunday, 1 March 2009

Corypha umbraculifera hort.

The West Indies produce several species of Sabal, but our knowledge of them is as unsatisfactory as that we possess of the North American ones. We are even uncertain, or at least have no positive proof, that the best-known species, S. umbraculifera, Mart., is a native of that archipelago, as has generally been supposed. Mr. John Smith, of Kew, says, in one of his memoranda :—" S. umbraculifera, Mart. (S. blackburniana, Hort. Angl., Corypha umbraculifera, Hort. Germ.) is the plant called, in the last edition of 'Hortus Kewensis 'Corypha umbraculifera', and the two large specimens of it in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew were for many years so called; but although we have long known this species to be quite distinct from the well-known Corypha umbraculifera of the East Indies, yet we are still uncertain about its native country it is generally supposed to be the West Indies, but we can furnish no evidence of that being actually the case. All the specimens cultivated in England are very old, and it is singular that new ones have never, as far as my personal knowledge goes, been imported. It is by some recognized (by its appearance) as the Great Bull or Thatch Palm of Jamaica: that may be correct, but it is singular that, although we have of late years received at Kew both living and dried specimens of Jamaica Palms, yet this species was not among them. Mr. Blackburn informed me that the traditionary history of this plant is that it came from Africa, and that the two specimens in Kew Gardens were the produce of seeds ripened on his specimens, and sent thither; which, if correct, must be, judging from the appearance of the two specimens at present (1855), at least sixty years ago. There is a Fan-Palm in Western Africa specifically unknown to us, but that could hardly be identical with this, as the habit of S. umbraculifera has more that of the West India type, rendering it probable that this plant is a native of Cuba, as has been asserted."*

* In our garden catalogues we find the following species enumerated :— Sabal Adansonii, Guern.; S.Adansonii, var. major; S. glaucescens, Lodd.; S. Havanefisis, Lodd.; S. Mexicana, Mart.; S. minima ? Nutt.; 5. Palmetto, Lodd.; S.serrulata, R. et Sch.; S. umbraculifera, Mart. (S. Blackltumiana, Hort.); and S. Woodfordiana, Lodd.

Berthold Seemann
Popular History of the Palms and Their Allies: Containing a Familiar Account of Their Structure, Geographical and Geological Distribution, History, Properties, and Uses...
P. 337-9
Edição de L. Reeve, 1856

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