1 Jul 1999
Experiences of…..Linospadix monostachya
In January 1998 Kent Houser and I went on a “palm jaunt” hitting prime areas in Orange and LA county. Some guys like Beer and Baseball, others like Pepsi and Palms. Kent was gathering information for his March 1998 “New Caledonia” issue of the Palm Journal which is a must-read. Me? Well, I had only seen Louie Hooper a few times before and I was anxious to meet the fellow Kent aptly named the ‘Head Alchemist’. I heard-tell that when you got a plant from him you would find it an awesome specimen, it would almost hurt your eyes, that he had “special soil” that only he knew how to materialize and maintain, and when you got the plant home there would be a noticeable deterioration soon after, unless you completely potted up the plant in your own trusted soil and watched the plant like a hawk. Like, you know, something magic is going on. With a year of experience with one of Louie’s plants, you can trust me, there is something going on. Claim: You will never have a palm that exceeds Louie Hooper’s level of attainment. Oh, you don’t believe me? Just read Rebecca Rodolff’s article, “Palm Grower Extraordinaire”, in the January 1999 issue of the Palm Journal.
Kent noticed it first, and I almost stumbled over it because I was a bit starry eyed looking at other larger plants. A Linospadix monostachya in a one gallon container, soon to be mine. From his neatly handwritten-in-lead-pencil label I read “2/97” which was either the date of germination or the shift from liner to one gallon? By the way, all knowledgeable PSSC members know from 2 yards distance Louie’s unique plant label; it is his signature, a kind calling card that gets our attention. Look for it.
So, this palm was about 9 inches tall, and has grown to 14 inches in 1 year. It’s special quality is the sheen, color and arrangement of it’s leaflets. Take the dark green and dull luster of a Chamaedorea metallica, make it a touch lighter green but give it a satin-gloss sheen and you have the color rendition of the L. monostachya. Our “Palms for Southern California” pamphlet says the leaf is pinnate, but I tend to think it closer to fishtail character (with premorse leaflets). The alternating grouping of leaflets charms me and there is an interesting weave of brown paper where the fuzz covered petioles emerge from the stem.
This is my favorite indoor plant, followed by C. metallica , R. excelsa and H. forsteriana. During the last week of April 1999 when I thought winter was over (fooled me!), I placed my indoor palms outside on the patio to give them the airing out I thought they needed (obviously, a human perspective). I believe the temperature dipped to 34 degrees F for about 4 hours. Scorecard: Hyophorbe vershaffeltii instantly turned to mush and flopped over, the Hyophorbe lagenicaulis seemed alive but browned totally dead in 2 weeks, the L. monostachya got ugly frog-eye brown marks on the leaves but is recovering well, and the H. forsteriana and R. excelsa were untouched.
I give both of my green thumbs up to the Linospadix monostachya as an indoor plant for inland areas. If you’ve a coastal location (and are talented like Jim Wright) you can grow them beautifully outside.