Northeast Florida Fancy Palm Provider

Earth Works is a Northeast Florida provider of Florida Fancy palm trees, the highest grade established by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. When making your palm tree purchases, it’s helpful to know its grade based on an assessment of its health, frond, trunk, root ball structural quality and the likelihood of transplant success. The palm tree grade does not reflect design form or dimensional characteristics.

Why Florida Palm Tree Grades Were Established
“Florida’s unique and diverse climate provides environmental conditions favorable for the growth of about 25,000 plant species, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). “This vast number of plants, coupled with the many different sizes and shapes of plants that enter the market, clearly indicates the need for precise communication between buyer and seller. This is further necessitated as buyer and seller specify and negotiate plant quality.”

Florida state government agencies likewise use the palm tree grades in making their purchases. “FDOT installations must use ONLY Florida #1 grade or better quality plants,” according to the Florida Department of Transportation. “Florida Chapter International Society of Arboriculture took the lead to establish a Certified Nursery Tree Grading program that aids implementation of the Florida Grades and Standards for Nursery Trees and Palms.”

Florida palm tree grades are required for the following palms based on health, minimum leaf counts, and the root-to-shoot ratio for transplant success, leaf quality, and root ball measurements in inches based on overall height. All of these can be graded as a Florida Fancy palm.
Paurotis palm, Christmas palm, Alexander palm, Piccabeen palm, Dwarf Sugar palm, Bismarck palm, Pindo palm, Mule palm, Carpentaria palm, Clustering Fishtail palm, Cat palm, Bamboo palm, Hardy Bamboo palm, Reed palm, European Fan palm, Red Feather palm, Silver palm, Coconut palm, Caranday palm, Carnauba palm, Princess palm, Cabada palm, Triangle palm, Teddy Bear palm, Areca palm, Sagisi palm, Bottle palm, Spindle palm, Blue Latan palm, Red Latan palm, Key Thatch palm, Australian Fan palm, Chinese Fan palm, Ribbon palm, Carnavon Gorge palm, Taraw palm, Canary Island Date palm, Date palm, Senegal Date palm, Pygmy Date palm, Wild Date palm, Buccaneer palm, Solitaire palm, Macarthur palm, Lady palm, Finger palm, Royal palm, Cabbage palm, Queen palm, Florida Thatch palm, Windmill palm, Montgomery palm, Mexican Fan palm, Mexican Fan palm, and Foxtail palm.

The following terms are presented for use in the grading process.

Abrupt tapering: A taper greater than 10% within the top foot of the woody trunk, reducing the trunk diameter, indicating a stressed condition.

Chlorosis: The loss of chlorophyll from leaves resulting in light green, yellow, orange, or white tissue. The presence of chlorosis denotes a nutrient deficiency, a physiological problem or the presence of a disease. Clustering palms: Palms that naturally have more than one trunk.

Palm Chlorosis credit Florida Today

Container Grown Palm: Palms grown in container allowing transplanting without cutting roots. The roots must be completely contained within the container.

Depression: Mechanically produced indentation into the pseudobark that can indicate damage to underlying vascular tissue.

Excellent leaf: A fully emerged leaf (all leaflets are fully expanded) with a strong petiole with less than 1% of the area showing chlorosis, necrosis, nutrient deficiencies, leaf spots, pests or insect damage, or physical damage.

Extreme succulence: Soft, tender, elongated, weak petioles caused by over-fertilization, over-irrigation or over-crowding in the nursery. The palm may not survive when transplanted. Typically identified by weak elongated petioles.

Field Grown Palm: Palms grown and harvested from the ground by cutting the roots.

Good leaf: A fully emerged leaf (all leaflets are fully expanded) with a strong petiole with 1% to 10% of the area showing chlorosis, necrosis, nutrient deficiencies, leaf spots, pests or insect damage, or physical damage.

Grade: A designation of palm health assigned at the time of delivery using this document to evaluate the palm. One of three grades is possible: Florida Fancy, Florida No. 1 or Florida No. 2.

Leaf count: The number of fully emerged (all leaflets are fully expanded) good or excellent leaves counted during the grading process.

Necrosis: Desiccated plant tissue typically but not necessarily brown, tan or gray in color.

Palm Necrosis credit UF IFAS

Primary Trunk: Trunks ¾ or greater the height of the tallest clear trunk in clustering palms and single trunk palms intentionally grown with more than one trunk.

Pseudobark: Outer non-vascular portion of the trunk. Pseudobark damage can be unsightly but can also indicate damage to underlying vascular tissue.

Pseudobark credit UF IFAS

Pup scars: Scars near the base of the trunk in clonally produced palms (palms propagated by division or propagated from offshoot removal; e.g., Phoenix dactylifera) that are the result of offshoot or pup removal. These scars present no health risk to the palm.

Re-grade: An official re-grade is conducted by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry. The request must be submitted to the Chief Plant Inspector, Division of Plant Industry within 30 days following delivery.

Root ball measurement: Measurement from the lowest part of the trunk exclusive of exposed roots or persistent leaf bases perpendicular out to the edge of the root ball for field grown palms. Gradable palms in containers are not subject to root ball measurements.

Tipped Leaf: A specified procedure of shortening the leaves by cutting the leaf tips. Tipped leaves are not gradable therefore this must occur after the grading process.

Vascular tissue: Water and carbohydrate conducting plant tissue that is covered by the outer non-vascular pseudobark.

Vertical fissures: Naturally occuring vertical expansion cracks. These present no health risk to the palm when less than one-inch deep.

Vertical Fissures credit

The Palm Grading Form: from FDACS

Step 1. Eliminating factors are severe problems that decrease the palm’s chance for survival in the new site. Any one of these factors eliminates the palm from Grades and Standards consideration. The palm is termed “Not Gradable,” regardless of other attributes.

a) Evidence of palm weevils or symptoms of lethal diseases such as Fusarium Wilt, Ganoderma butt rot, phytoplasma diseases, Thielaviopsis trunk rot, or Phytophthora bud rot.
b) Wood boring insect damage.
c) Exposure of or damage to vascular tissue.*
d) Abrupt tapering within the top foot of the woody trunk reducing the diameter by more than 20%.
e) Extreme succulence.
f ) Naturally occurring vertical fissures exceeding one-inch in depth.g) Pseudobark damage totaling more than 20 square inches.*
h) Failure to meet the minimum requirements for root ball measurement or Florida No. 2 leaf count in Table 1.

Step 3. Downgrading Factors
a) Pseudobark damage between 5 and 10 square inches. Enter one ‘YES’ for each occurrence.*
b) Pseudobark damage between 10 and 20 square inches. This is in addition to the previous pseudobark damage downgrade.*
c) Abrupt tapering within the top foot of woody trunk reducing the diameter by 10% to 15%.
d) Abrupt tapering within the top foot of woody trunk reducing the diameter by 16% to 20%. This is in addition to the previous abrupt tapering downgrade.

There is no requirement that sellers provide this information unless you ask. The high standards of the Florida palm tree grading process protect your investment, but only if you know it exists and you ask the grade when making your purchase. Ask your nursery if they are a Florida fancy palm provider prior to your purchase.

For comprehensive solutions to your specific lawn, garden, and landscaping need, contact Earth Works of Jacksonville online or at 904-996-0712. Earth Works operates a retail Garden Center/Plant Nursery with Florida Fancy palm stock in Jacksonville and provides landscaping, hardscaping, water features, lawn care service, lawn spraying, and drainage solutions. 

Earth Works proudly serves clients in Northeast Florida, including Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Nocatee, St. Johns, Fleming Island, Orange Park, Middleburg, Green Cove Springs, Amelia Island, Fernandina, and St. Augustine.

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