Saturday, January 28, 2006

Observations of the Palm Tree in Front of My Apartment

While observing a withered palm tree in front of my apartment, I noticed several different activities that this tree is simultaneously engaged in. For one, it is gradually trying to curve around the corner of my apartment building since our building is largely blocking out the sun. The tree is growing at a 80 degree angle from the ground plane. To balance its weight, there is a significant bulk of bark and husk of where another tree once grew right next and attached to the palm tree. The palm tree has taken this material for its own, wrapped it in its own bark, and subsequently using this as a counter weight to its sideways growing motion. It is not clear whether this tree is intentionally using this as a counterweight or it actually grew this extra material for this purpose. However, it appears to be doing just that.

The dead tree stump right next to it was cut in some age past and one can notice how hollow it is by knocking on the wood. However, the bark seems to be alive and a product of the main living tree. The palm tree has also been cut in several different places over the past and terminated those branches with some new bark covering. Old battle scars from a gardener long past.

What intrigues me is what could be the purpose of the dead palm fronds that hang on to a palm tree long since they've become brown and non-photosynthetic. Possible theories include discouraging primates, jaguars, or humans from trying to climb the tall trees, and another is that the dead fronds are used as a sort of shade along the base of the tree to keep it from over-heating and loosing moisture during the hot summers. It is also observed that these fronds only seem to fall off during rain and wind storms. Perhaps this a form of reproduction. It is not clear from observation of this tree how it goes about reproduction.

Jacob Everist