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Gulf Freeway and the Palm Trees


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Okay, sorry if this topic has been brought up before but i was driving down the Gulf Freeway/I-45 South yesterday. It looks like they're trying to slowly improve the area with the exception of the remaining billboards, crummy businesses, and rusty business signs. I noticed they've begun to pave the Freeway in the blacktop asphault like most cities do. Although i do think that it will ultimately raise the temperature in that part of town, i still think it looks better.

Now for my main question, WHAT'S WITH THE PALM TREES? Is it just me or does it look like nearly all of them are not faring too well? It looks like most of them are dying and won't get much taller. I mean its been 5-7 years since they began planting them and i'm just not noticing much progress. Even the Palms at the Gulf Freeway/BW8 interchange are starting to look like they're not holding up. What could be the cause of this? Doesn't Houston have the same climate as Orlando FL to where its suitable for Palms? Could it be Houston's horrible air quality that's causing them to shrivel and die?

Some answers or input would be appreciated

Edited by scarface
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That part of town with all the refineries is super ugly. The palm trees only help improve the look of the area. I passed down that area a few weeks back and I didn't notice anything with the trees. But you have to understand that Texas is not a palm tree's native environment. So it is probably our heat that effects them the most. Air polution is heavier in Los Angeles, but the palm tree seems to grow just fine over there.

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It's probably because they got tow-up by IKE. Many other trees look worse that they did a year ago, but a regular tree can be pruned of the dead wood.

I think it was the storm. Hell, I completely lost three palms.

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That part of town with all the refineries is super ugly. The palm trees only help improve the look of the area. I passed down that area a few weeks back and I didn't notice anything with the trees. But you have to understand that Texas is not a palm tree's native environment. So it is probably our heat that effects them the most. Air polution is heavier in Los Angeles, but the palm tree seems to grow just fine over there.

Actually Texas, specifically the Greater Houston area, IS a native environment for one special type of palm...

http://www.proz.com/kudoz/english_to_spani...sabal_palm.html

"Our other palm tree, believed to be a hybrid of Sabal mexicana and Sabal minor, occurs nowhere in the world but a small, heavily wooded area of Brazoria County, south of Houston. Up to 27 feet tall, these palms are the only known hybrids of the Sabal genus, and the only known naturally occurring and reproducing palm hybrids in the continental United States. Although the Brazoria County palms appear to be hybrids, a botanist who has done genetic tests on them believes they could be a new species.

At present 46 acres of the Brazoria palm site are protected as a part of the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, and the Fish and Wildlife Service plans to acquire more of the site as neighboring tracts come up for sale. With two preserves 240 miles apart, each protecting a different kind of palm tree, Texas has a richness of palms few are aware of."

Just FYI

Edited by totheskies
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I've noticed many of the trees along the freeways were planted and maintained in somewhat of a haphazard manner (crooked, lack of topsoil and mulch, planted too close together, lack of weeding). Some palms can also be trimmed of dead underbrush, which would make them look much better. Many of the palms on the Gulf Fwy looked bad before Ike, but I agree the storm probably worsened the situation for the weaker ones.

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I've noticed many of the trees along the freeways were planted and maintained in somewhat of a haphazard manner (crooked, lack of topsoil and mulch, planted too close together, lack of weeding). Some palms can also be trimmed of dead underbrush, which would make them look much better. Many of the palms on the Gulf Fwy looked bad before Ike, but I agree the storm probably worsened the situation for the weaker ones.

They should put more along 45 and woodrigde.Maybe to block off the the fools that keep driving off the road to avoid traffic.

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Refineries are the dangerous, free-spirited, complicated chicks of urban architecture. And I like dangerous, free-spirited, complicated chicks.

Seriously, 225 is my favorite freeway.

Niche, I've got to agree with you twice in one day. I drive 225 from my home in the Bay Area to my office in Greenway several times a week. The palm trees planted in the medians are an interesting contrast to the amazing tanks, pipes, and towers of the refineries and other chemical plants. Dangerous and free-spirited indeed; I figure if one of those things goes while I am in front of it my dear widow won't even have to pay for my cremation. :huh:

Generally the truck drivers are not the dangerous idiots some claim them to be. The big rigs are not allowed in the center lanes from 6:00am to 8:00am (I believe) and I have never seen one of them violating that law. They do, for the most part, pass on the left and signal lane changes. How I wish the folks on the 610 Loop and 288 would do the same.

Getting back to the original subject of the thread, I concur that damage from Ike and a general lack of maintenance are probably what contributes most to the poor appearance of the palm trees along the Gulf Freeway. Does anyone notice how the oleanders seems to be flourishing though (see especially at the BW8 interchange and Scarsdale Road exit)? The are tough.

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I always thought they were the perfect trees to signify that you were entering a coastal county. Then again, I am about to plant several in my back yard, so perhaps I am a bit partial to palms.

IMO, it is the shape of the palms that is the issue. On the other freeways, there is a nice combination of trees that (if allowed to mature) will form a dense wall between the freeway and feeder road. The palms, however, are narrow and upright. That's a plus if you want to line a boulevard and can't have tree branches or roots in the way, but they fail to buffer much of anything. Their upright growth also requires just as much mowing and weedeating as a highway sign, which goes against TXDoT's stated goals of reducing thier freeway maintenance. Supplementing the palms with more understory plantings would make everything better, but I have a feeling TXDoT considers Gulf Freeway finished until it is widened.

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Palms have a very small root ball, so they were probably chosen for this application since they would be unlikely to disturb the paving on the freeway or disrupt any underground utilities.

The previous Dist E councilperson, Rob Todd, was all about palms along 45 and made it a pet project during his term.

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It's probably because they got tow-up by IKE. Many other trees look worse that they did a year ago, but a regular tree can be pruned of the dead wood.

I think it was the storm. Hell, I completely lost three palms.

That was my thought, too.

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Air polution is heavier in Los Angeles, but the palm tree seems to grow just fine over there.

Actually Los Angeles has been having problems as of late with their palms also and have planned to take down various palms along with an effort to stop planting them completely. Also, there are some palms that are native to texas and the southeast texas region, but who knows if those trees that are currently planted are native or not.

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Working in League City, I see more palm trees than a Hawaiian vacationer, so I get to see them grow throughout the year, and I get to see the maintenance performed on them throughout the year.

As the palm grows new palm fronds, the old ones at the 'bottom' of the palm frond-ball thingy (I'm a good observer, not a good nomenclaturist) die. If the plant is maintained, they are hacked away with a machette, this makes the trunk of the palm tree look kind of pineapplish. If these dead palm fronds are not trimmed, they will hang on the tree until they fall off, or are blown off, at which point, you will see the smooth trunk.

I'm just glad they are planting something in this unused greenspace.

I do like oleander, but I think someone may have gone a little crazy in spots.

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  • 1 year later...

update for this, if anyone is interested....

on my commute home last night up 45...

I saw a work crew on the northbound shoulder that were hacking dead palm leaves off of the trunks of some of the palms. it was between griggs and wayside on the NB side of the freeway. Not sure if it was a crew that was commissioned to do it, or just a crew that decided to do it to collect dead palm leaves for basket weaving or what. I'll keep an eye out to see if this continues.

either way, the dead leaves can be a hazard if the catch fire..

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