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A Garden of Exceptional Palms

Articles: A Garden of Exceptional Palms

The Mediterranean Garden leads into the Lakeside Palmetum at The Gardens at Lake Merritt. Photo: Caitlin Atkinson

The Lakeside Palmetum is beginning to grow into prominence three decades after its founding on the shores of Lake Merritt.

The Lakeside Palmetum’s botanical collection compares with others on the West Coast—more than 70 species grow there—but its selection of cool-climate palms that thrive in the coastal fog belt sets it apart. Chief among these are the wax palms of the Andes, Ceroxylon, and their compatriots, the mountain coconuts, Parajubaea.

Members of the Northern California Chapter of the International Palm Society began planting the Palmetum in 1982. It comprises one of the most extensive collections of subtropical and cool-climate palms in North America. Many of its rare species from South America, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Central America, Africa, Europe, the United States, and Asia are now reaching flowering age and pushing their crowns against the horizon. Second- and even third-generation seedlings are appearing where irrigation allows.

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