The above palms include the principal species recommended to our patrons for conservatory or house culture and used in decorating. There may be other palms equalling them in beauty and grandeur (Pritchardia grandis is one of the most striking and noblest of palms), but these species have been selected and grown in such enormous quantities because they have the necessary qualities. They are easily and quickly raised, have a fine decorative appearance, are not easily hurt by the vicissitudes of our treatment, and are all good house plants.
Other genera that are well known, handsome palms and not scarce, are:
Acanthophoenix crinita; tall, spreading, handsome fronds. The stems are densely armed with black needle-shaped spines.
Astrocaryum; a genus from tropical South America; there are several species. The Muru-Muru palms are best known. They attain a height of forty feet. The leaves are dark green above and silvery white below. A. argenteum is described as one of the best silvery palms.
Carludovica; this is a useful genus. Several of the species are used for subtropical gardening. The fronds are erect and stiff and the plant has the appearance of a small latania. Two fine species are C. palmata and C. atrovirens.
Caryota; this is a fine, noble genus. They would not add to our list of decorative palms, but should be in every collection. They have large, much divided fronds, the leaves having their ends resembling a fish's tail. Two fine species easily procured are C. sobolifera and C. urens.
Ceroxylon niveum, often called the wax palm, comes from the Andes. Handsome for subtropical gardening, and thrives in a cool greenhouse in winter.
Chamaerops; low growing, compact palms. C. humilis is one of the very few-palms found in Europe. It has short stems, with a much divided leaf, which is long, narrow and erect. The whole bush, as it appears, makes it splendid for a vase in a conspicuous place, or the ideal plant when two or three feet high and as much through, for a tropical bed. C. macrocarpa is a very robust species, fine for any purpose where humilis is useful. C. excelsa is a grand, hardy palm.
Cocos nucifera is the cocoanut palm. It has fine fronds of a bright, glossy green, but would be useful only as an ornament to the palm house. Australis and flexuosa are two ornamental species. The handsome little "Weddelliana has received notice.
Corypha Australis; a low growing, compact, hardy palm. Makes a fine plant.
Euterpe; tall growing, graceful palms.
Would not be so useful as the kentias for decoration. E. edulis and E. mon-tana are the best.
Geonoma, a very large genus of low growing hothouse palms. All the species are handsome, but not to be recommended as house plants. The species gracilis has handsome slender fronds, resembling those of Cocos Weddelliana.
Martinezia; medium growing palms, the segments of the leaf resembling those of the caryota or fish tail palms. Caryotaefolia and erosa are two of the most useful species.
Oreodoxa regia, from Cuba; tall, rather slender stem, with large spreading fronds. Before the introduction of the kentias this palm was in great esteem. Useful in sheltered places for tropical gardening. O. oleracea is the cabbage palm of the West Indies, and there are several other species.
Phoenicophorium sechellarum or Stevensonia grandifolia; this handsome palm is from the island of Mauritius and should be always warm; it thrives in a moisture-charged atmosphere. It would not be either a house or a decorative plant, but where there are the proper conditions for its growth it is one of the most handsome of all. H. Siebrecht & Son say of it: "It has grand, dark green, fluted foliage of immense size, exceedingly glossy, and dotted with many minute orange-colored spangles. The stems also are of orange color and covered with long black spines. Justly considered one of the handsomest and most imposing of the whole race."
Pritchardia; this is a most imposing genus, but should always be kept in the palm house. The leaves are large and broad, fluted, and a deep green. The leaves of P. grandis when well grown are five feet across. They make but a short stem or trunk, but send out many of their remarkable leaves. P. grandis (or Licuala grandis) is the finest. P. pacifica has dark green leaves, covered with a white down when young; a fine species. Several other species are in commerce.
Ptychosperma Alexandrae and P. Cun-ninghamiana; these are known as the Australian feather palms. Tall palms of rapid growth, with fine arching fronds. In general appearance they resemble the kentias, but they are coarser in growth and much softer, and will not endure the rough treatment that the kentias will, which for all commercial purposes is much superior. But for tall palm houses the ptychospermas soon make fine specimens. P. Cunninghamiana was for years known as Seaforthia elegans, and was twenty years ago our main decorative palm, but is entirely superseded by the kentia.
Rhapis; a useful genus of but a few species. The plants spread and send up several straight, erect stems, large plants forming clumps, which can be divided, or the young plants taken off as they appear. The stems from near the ground are clothed with leaves, giving the plant a thick, bushy appearance. The rhapis are very hardy and useful for decorating, and can be used on the lawn or in the tropical garden in summer. Rhapis flabelliformis is the most useful. R. humilis is almost identical, but smaller.
Sabal; this is our native palmetto palm, which grows so abundantly in our southern states. When growing at its best it has a trunk of thirty to forty feet, and leaves six to eight feet long. There are several species, natives of Central and South America, but they are not of any special value to the commercial florist.
I have never mentioned the flower of the palm, that feature by which botanists classify them into genera, because we cultivate palms all our lives, and grow them to be large plants, without ever seeing a palm in flower. Most species attain a great size and are many years old before they flower, but true flowers they do have, we know, for we eat the fruit of the phoenix (the date) and the seed of the cocos (the cocoanut), and the seeds or nuts of many others are edible.
In conclusion, let me give my opinion that the use of palms, great as it is at present, is yet to be largely increased. The supply of the useful kinds has barely kept up with the demand in spite of great increases in glass area.
The return to the greenhouse of a scrubby palm to be doctored or recuperated is one of the disagreeable features of our business, and must be left entirely to the discretion of yourself. You don't like to offend, but you must be firm in this case. If a plant is in fair order and the customer wants you to keep it while he is away, that is all right, if you charge for it by the month, as we do. But when a kentia or latania is brought home with two small leaves and a diseased center, write immediately to the owners and tell them that it would take four years to make a respectable looking plant of their palm, and the charge would be three times the cost of a healthy plant of the same size. By that plain but truthful and respectful information you will usually get a telephone order to "do what you like with it," which means throw it away. If not, and you must attempt to make a plant of it, the least you can charge would be $1 per square foot of bench room per annum that its spread of leaves occupied. But let us hope you will have very little of it, for the sight of a lot of scrubby, half dead palms is most depressing, and the occupation of janitor of a pesthouse would be preferred to their care.