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Saxophone clipart
thanks to Clipart ETC.

From Tomlinson & Esler, Figure 1C.
o = original level of the seedling apex

S. minor 5–year 'saxophone'
(click for 900 KB image)

The Underground ‘Saxophone’ Axis (Establishment) Stage of Sabal Palms

by Bob Harms  email-here
P. B. Tomlinson & A. E. Esler 1973 introduce a saxophone metaphor to describe the early establishment stage of palm development (p. 627):
In the palm Rhopalostylis the seedling initially grows more or less vertically downward to a depth of about 20 cm and subsequently it turns through almost 180° and adopts its final, erect position. The resulting "saxophone" shape of the underground parts is very distinctive. [BH: Note that this saxophone shape is not associated with the initial germination of the seedling. Emphasis by BH]
And in speaking of "developmental modifications [BH: which] have evolved to render it [BH: i.e., the successful establishment of the palm] more efficient" (Tomlinson, "Systemataics and Ecology of the Palmae," 1979, p. 95):
This usually results in a burying of the plumular axis, with the axis developing to its maximum diameter underground. In several genera (e.g. Diplothemium, Rhopalostylis, Sabal) the seedling is saxophone-shaped. The plumule initially grows obliquely downward but is reorientated quite abruptly into an erect position. [Emphasis by BH]
For pages illustrating ‘saxophone’ formation for two stages in S. minor, or for a 5-year S. palmetto click the appropriate links below. A comparison of five Sabal types is contained on another page.

S. minor 1-year saxophone

S. minor 5-year saxophone

S. palmetto 5-year saxophone