Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Canary Island Date Palm, R.I.P.

This is the majestic Phoenix Canariensis, the Canary Island Date Palm.

It's is also known as the Pineapple Palm tree, because when trimmed properly, the base beneath the tree leaves resembles a pineapple.

The tree pictured above has been in my back yard since we bought the modest Culver City home in 1993. At that time it already stood 20 feet tall, so we can assume it had been there quite a while. Sadly, or stupidly, the landscaper who planted this beautiful tree in the mid 20th century couldn't have picked a worse spot: right under the Department of Water and Power's High Voltage electrical lines.

Last week, I got frantic call from my daughter with the one word no homeowner wants to hear: Fire.

One of the neighbors spotted smoke coming off the tree and wisely called 911. In less than a minute firefighters were high on a cherry picker putting out my palm tree.

You can't see it from the picture, but the top of the 'pineapple' is all scorched.

Faced with no other choice, today a crew of indifferent Mexican gardeners are swinging chainsaws and reducing this beautiful queen into garden mulch. There is a mammoth wood chipper sitting on my driveway and the scene resembles something out of Fargo. But without the blood, the bones or the legendary Coen Brothers snappy dialogue.

My wife and daughters have been reduced to tears. They had an emotional attachment to the tree. I've witnessed this all before, when we got rid of the old dining table. And when we sold the minivan.

I'm also sad.
But for a completely different reason.

Before the hacking, the sawing and the cutting all began, the tree specialist who came out to supervise the operation told me that had they been able to remove the tree (impossible because of the power lines) I could have sold it. Apparently these trees are quite popular with city municipalities. And many Las Vegas hotels that would pay top dollar for a mature 35 foot high Canary Island Date Palm.

So instead of walking away from this with $20,000 in my pocket (that's right $20,000) I now have about $27 worth of smelly firewood.



Anonymous said...

Find a good arborist and this tree could be removed.
Of course it cannot be initially lifted because of the power lines but if you were willing to lose a little concrete, the base could have been dug out and the tree tipped inward then lifted horizontally as they always do. Trees like this are never vertically excavated. It's a huge job for a huge crane that would have probably cost $20,000 just to rent. So think of it as you're breaking even either way.

Sorry about the tree it's very majestic. Replant a dwarf citrus!

george tannenbaum said...

We don't have these problems in New York.

Anonymous said...

Nah, don't wory about it Rich...

Homeowners call me all the time trying to find contractors/developers to 'buy' their rare palms. That business dried up with the death of high end construction!

Vegas doesn't need you C. I. palm anymore...