To attempt to give a long list of palms is quite unnecessary. There are so many genera and species that even encyclopedias don't attempt to name them. The commercial kinds are rather limited and familiar to most of my readers, but how few these are when you consider the hundreds of species of this noble family, many of which are worthy a place in any collection. In mentioning some of the leading palms it is not easy to decide which to place first, for the graceful and finest decorative palm is not always the hardiest or best house plant, the latter a most important question with us. Nearly every florist has had some experience with a few palms and has decided for himself which suits him or his trade best.
The names I have used are those by which we familiarly know them, and it would be little use to call Latania Bor-bonica Livistona Chinensis, for our customers know it as latania and they don't care about a lesson in long, crooked names. Call it the Chinese fan palm and they would remember it. People who don't know Begonia Rex by name know it very well as the beefsteak geranium. That must have originated in the packing house district of Chicago, but it's about as elegant as that invented by an ex-horse-car driver, a young Irishman whom I set to moving some begonias, and in an hour or so he informed me he had " got through with the big-onions."
The leading commercial palms are Kentia Belmoreana and K. Forsteriana. These well-known palms are deservedly the most popular of all. Quick growing, splendid plants for the house, beautiful either when one foot high or twenty feet. Belmoreana is dwarfer and more compact than Forsteriana and has graceful recurved leaves when well grown. This plant with light and room to spread is the very perfection of form. Forsteriana is more erect, but similar in all other respects, and makes a fine palm for large decorations. Both endure the extremes of temperature, but no frost, and all other unfavorable conditions better than any other palms, the phoenix alone excepted. Other species not so valuable commercially, but making fine specimens are, K. Baueri, S. Canter-buryana, K. Lindenii, K. McArthurii, K. Mooreana, K. Wendlandiana.
Areca lutescens; this magnificent palm is unrivalled as a decorative plant. It has bright, shining golden stems, with feathery and most graceful leaves. It grows quickly and soon makes plants of a fine decorative size. They are often planted three or four in a pot, but even without that the plant has the habit of sending outside shoots from base of stem and large plants are soon thick masses of foliage crowned with the most graceful of curving fronds. It is not quite equal as a house plant to the kentias. Other species are A. alba, A. rubra, A. sapida, A. Verschaffeltii. All fine, graceful palms.
Latania Borbonica (Livistona Chinen-sis) ; this palm has been in commerce many years, before the kentia and areca were known, and is familiar to all. Its broad, bright shining leaves suggest the use that is made of the leaf. It is the Chinese fan palm. It withstands heat or cold, even a few degrees of frost. It has always been a standard decorative plant as well as a favorite palm for the living-room. Perfect specimens make fine objects in decorating, especially when placed in a vase or where the whole outline and expanse of the plant can be seen.
There is a form of this with light yellow stems and leaves, a beautiful palm known as L. Borbonica aurea.
Phoenix; these are not considered as fine decorative plants as the arecas and kentias, although as small specimens they are most beautiful. Yet they are the hardiest of all palms. They will thrive in a vase or jar or tropical bed in the broad sun without losing a particle of color, and as a house plant, among palms, they are unequalled. They also seem to bear the tying and untying and the crowding and wear and tear of a decoration better than any other palms we have ever handled. For any unfavorable situation that a palm can be expected to thrive in at all, recommend a phoenix. Some beautiful species are not common among us, but they should be. The principal species are:
P. rupicola; wide spreading, weeping leaf stems, with finely divided leaves. A rapid grower, most graceful and most durable. A pair of these we have in mind have within the past six years been 500 times packed and unpacked and withstood heat and cold, gas and dust, and still stand today in the broad sun with their arching fronds perfect.
P. leonensis, or spinosa; habit slightly stiffer than rupicola, very handsome, with dark, shining color of leaf. This is a species we do not see often enough. As a small plant it is most ornamental.
P. dactylifera, the date palm; not quite so graceful but strong, robust, dark shiny foliage; splendid for large decorations or for summer ornament in any position outside.
Other species of useful phoenix are P. pumila, P. Canariensis, P. tenuis, P. farinifera.
Cocos Weddelliana; this little gem of a palm, for such it is, is now raised in immense quantities. It has when but six or eight inches high all the grace and beauty of a plant three feet high, and for that reason it is held in the highest esteem for the center of small ferneries. When these dinner-table decorations are returned with the ferns dried and dead the cocos still looks perfect. Larger specimens make fine decorative plants and they thrive admirably in the dry air of a living-room.
Livistona rotundifolia; this neat little palm could be called a miniature Latania Borbonica. It makes a dwarf, rounded plant, most charming for its neatness. Small plants but eight or nine inches high have a great number of short, rounded leaves. This little palm makes a splendid table plant, and in many other positions in decorations it can be used with good effect.