With over 2000 species, the palm family (Arecaceae) is diverse (Uhl and Dransfield, 1987). This diversity is manifest in numerous growth forms, textures, colors, and cultivation requirements. Palms are used in various interior and exterior landscape settings because of their assortment of features that add a touch of elegance and stimulate the senses. There is a high demand for palms in the trade. For example, yearly sales of ornamental palms in Florida reached $220 million (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2007). When used, palms typically represent the largest dollar investment in plant material for landscaping projects (H.E. Pérez, personal observation).
Although a few palms are amenable to propagation through division of rhizomes, offshoots, or tissue culture, the vast majority of landscape palms are propagated by seeds. However, commercial production of many palm species is hampered by delayed and inconsistent germination. Such sporadic germination is often due to seed dormancy mechanisms. Therefore, the intent of this article is to review dormancy mechanisms in palms and to communicate methods to promote germination in this valuable group of plants.
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