Palm Centre is awarded National Collection status for Trachycarpus

Posted: 2 May 2010

Hot off the press is the exciting news that Martin Gibbons and the Palm Centre team have just been awarded National Collection holder status by Plant Heritage for holding the UK collection of Trachycarpus species.

Plant Heritage started as the NCCPG and is a charity that is now world leading in recognising that we need to protect gardens and plants for all generations to enjoy. So often plants come in and out of favour and many varieties and species that may have been once widely grown and popular can vanish for good from cultivation in just a relatively short space of time.

Without dedicated enthusiasts to look after them whatever the vagaries of fashion they would be lost for ever. Having people prepared to cultivate and build up collections of their chosen plant groups means we have more chance of keeping the plants for us all to enjoy and not to lose the valuable reference and genetic material such living collections have.

National collection holders have great responsibility to study and record their chosen plant group and to acquire and build up the collection to reflect as much as possible as many examples of different species and varieties as they can. Also to promote the chosen plant group as much as possible.

Martin has been studying this group of palms for over 20 years and I know that when I first met him around 25 years ago he was tracking down genuine Trachycarpus martianus with limited success. In fact it is incredible now, looking back, to think that where we once only really saw Trachycarpus fortunei, (a super palm!) there are now 9 currently recognised species with other 'varieties' and forms under investigation! Martin himself has been involved in naming 4 new species and made expeditions with Toby Spanner from Munich to see all the 9 species in habitat, so very important if we are to understand the palms.

All 9 species have been planted at the Palm Centre located which is located in Ham near Richmond, Surrey in the South West corner of London. Some of the plants are still small, especially the newly described species but they will grow overtime to make a valuable reference.

We have another UK member Keith Andrew who holds the reference collection for Rhapis sp and cultivars on the wonderful Isle of Anglesey so good news for palm lovers!

News Archive