Forty foot high palm trees stand majestic by the water’s edge. They are surrounded by a whole host of other tropical plants, including lemon and lime trees, fig and banana trees, kumquats and several other species of palm trees. In fact, 15 different species of palms grace the grounds of this particular oasis. The ones of interest today though are the Livistona rotundifolias, otherwise known as a footstool or fan palm.
Have I painted a serene enough landscape for you? Do you know where these magnificent palms grow? Well in their natural habitat, these palms will grow upwards of 50 feet or more in places like Indonesia, Malaysia and elsewhere in Tropical Asia. On vacation, you will no doubt have seen them in Florida, Hawaii or Southern California, among other places. Of course, you don’t have to go quite so far to find examples of this specimen though. The crew of CLC Tree Services got an up close look at the Livistona rotundifolia this week, when they were called out to the Lamplighter Inn right here in London, Ontario, to remove two of them from their Atrium Oasis.
While tree removal is par for the course for the men of CLC, this was the first time that they had been presented with cutting down anything as tropical as a palm tree. Always up for the challenge and ready to tackle anything new, they made arrangements for the day with Phil Daw, the resident horticulturist for the Lamplighter Inn. A wealth of information about all the plants under his care, Daw was more than happy to explain why these particular 25-30 year old trees needed to be removed.
While the palms in question were reasonably healthy and grew quickly under the glass of one of Ontario’s largest retractable roofs, these trees had begun to impede access to the guide wires that are used to maintain the roof panels above. Looking at the jagged edges on the stem of the large leaves, it was understandable that the technician did not want to risk the teeth of these palms, while almost 50 feet in the air. The CLC crew were certainly happy to have their thick gloves to protect their hands from those edges.
A lack of experience with palm trees did not deter the men this morning though. They started by climbing to the top of the palms and sawing off each individual thick leaf with a hand saw. Giant palm leaves quickly accumulated under the forty-foot trunks, which the ground crew collected for later disposal.
Once the tree was shorn of its leaves, sections of the trunk were cut. Calvin’s research (lead hand) had led him to believe that the trunk would be quite heavy, so initially he started with small chunks. To his surprise, his chainsaw sliced through the tree reasonably easily, despite its fibrous exterior and the logs that were dropped to the ground below were not nearly as heavy as anticipated. Soon, 3′-4′ sections were being dropped to the waiting tarp below, for the ground crew to collect.
With the top fibrous trunk removed, the next step was a little more challenging. The root ball of the Livistonia is quite large. These specimens are grown in a relatively compact site; approximately 3-4′ squares surrounded by patio stones (due to their proximity of the pool). In order to remove the trunk, the CLC crew had to push the tree to the side, cut the root system, then push the tree in the other direction, cutting the roots as they went. Eventually, with a little sweat equity, the trees were free from their constraints in the ground. The last stop; the chipper.
Of course, that last stop might change if Curt’s wife has anything to do with it. I wouldn’t put it past the owner’s better half to abscond with a section of palm tree for her own backyard oasis. That remains to be seen though.
As for the holes left at the Lamplighter Inn, they won’t be there for long. With the help of a local nursery, and of course CLC Tree Services, new palms will be replanted soon. At 15′ high, they won’t exactly be saplings, but as livistonia rotundifolias are some of the fastest growing palm trees, they will fill in the space in no time. Perhaps we’ll snap a pic or two on tree planting day! Come out and join us if you are in the area. See you then!