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Why there are new palm trees along Palm Walk at ASU


Although in this blog I usually just visit places around Phoenix in my imagination, yesterday I actually visited the campus of Arizona State University (ASU) specifically to see the new palm trees along Palm Walk, which goes north and south on campus just south of the bridge on University. The original palm trees were over 100 years old, and they had to go.

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Now waitaminute here, it wasn't a conspiracy, man. And there was nothing wrong with the old palm trees. It's just that they had lived out there entire life span, and were dying of old age. Really. That's all.

Palm Walk in 1966

The campus at ASU is one of the most spectacular arboretums that you can imagine. Trees have been planted there, and cared for, for over 100 years. If you're a tree-hugging nerd like me, you can spend hours just walking around, being amazed by the beautiful trees. Most of them have little plaques with descriptions on them. The new palm trees don't have them, so I'll just tell you what they are: they're date palms, if if you're real nerdy you can call them Phoenix dactyliferas. They're the kinds of palm trees that you see in the Middle East, growing in an oasis in the desert. Unlike the original palm trees, which were the outrageously tall skinny kind with the little tuft of leaves on the top, these palm trees will have a wide canopy, like an umbrella, and will provide not only beauty, but shade.

Looking north towards the University bridge

Walk with me. It's August of 2017 and you can tell how freshly the new palms have been planted by seeing the fronds tied together. At the base you would never know how recently they've been planted, they were expertly planted and the grass growing at the base is perfect and covers up any traces of recent planting. But look up. When palms are planted, the leaves in the center are vulnerable until the plant takes root. So the leaves are tied up to protect the heart, and after a season, new growth will appear, and the old leaves will be removed. So visit again next year and you'll see an amazing canopy of fronds.

My best guess is that these trees will also be good for another hundred years, so let's plan to meet again in 2117, when they will need to be replaced again.

Thank you for walking with me.


Image at the top of this post: Looking south on Palm Walk on the campus of Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, August 20th, 2017.