Sabal × brazoriensis 1988

Same plant, with volunteer seedlings, 2009

Ontogeny of Sabal × brazoriensis Leaves

The Brazoria Sabal (Sabal × brazoriensis) on our land in N. Hays Co. has been producing fruits since at least 1997, when a bumber crop first caught my attention. I had not otherwise been closely monitoring the growth of this palmetto from a small plant in 1977. Since 1997 some 165 seedlings have volunteered, a number of these certainly from 1997. Many are at the base of the mother palm; others are in areas which are seasonally moist as distant as 500 feet, distributed by birds and small mammals (especially raccoons). (A Google Map presentation shows the distribution of these with a photograph of each.)

Infructescence, 1997.

Seedling clump at base of large baldcypress, 2002

The same general group of seedlings in 2009

In a recent survey of the development of 5-year juvenile Sabal plants of 5 'types' I was struck by the difference in leaf segmentation among the types. S. mexicana and S. palmetto already had numerous multisegmented leaves, but the Brazoria Sabals had only eophyll-like leaves (although larger).

Largest volunteer at base of above palm, 2009.

12-year juvenile, 2009

I recognized that this same pattern of development had been going on for years with the volunteer juveniles (plus one plant germinated from seed 12 years ago). Of these 165 plus plants, many of which were over 10 years old, only 3 had multisegmented leaves. The oldest of them mostly had simple or bifid leaves, occasionally trifid. (Note the volunteers at the base of the mother palm in the top picture.) The pictures accompanying the above Google Map link presents this evidence.

Largest volunteer (code 'D20' for Google Maps), April 2009