Erica's Original Notes
Palms are members of the Arecaceae family. Of course, one associates palms with warm climates, so it is unusual to find a palm tree growing in our fair city. But, as you see, ours are growing in sheltered spots which helps to keep their growing tips from rotting.
Palms are second only to grasses in their usefulness to man, providing us with oil for soap, margarine, candles, machinery and cosmetics, and, of course, the leaves are used in a thousand ways from roofing to grass skirts.
Palm fronds were used on Palm Sunday, but in Northern Europe pussy willows were used as a substitute.
2013 Update (MG):
Our 'local' palm mentioned by Erica is the Chinese windmill palm, Trachycarpus fortunei. It is now native to China, but once grew in this area and is very hardy. There are two other palms also planted here, Trachycarpus wagneriana, which has slightly smaller palm fronds, and the European palm, Chamaerops humilis. These plantings around the city were coordinated by the Pacific Northwest Palm and Exotic Plants Society. The palms in our Garden formerly in the entry area can now be found near the Korean Pavilion.