Question: What is the difference between sabal palms with “cross-hatching” all the way up the trunk and those with only marginal “cross-hatching?” – Jerry, Captiva Island
Answer: The sabal (cabbage) palms you have described are palms of the same species, Sabal palmetto. The “cross-hatchings” on the trunks of the palms are the remnants of old leaf bases. When the leaves fall, or are pruned away, they often leave behind the bases that remain attached to the trunks. The bases are commonly called “booths” and the numbers of attached leaf bases and the period of attachments are related to differences between palms caused by pollination. Pollination, in the case of palms, is mostly accomplished by bees and is referred to as open pollination. This free transfer of pollen produce palms with significant variations in booth attachments. In the past, most sabal palms had their booths forcibly removed before being planting in the landscape. This practice gave a false sense of trunk uniformity.