Underneath the plastic wraps is the Chilean Wine Palm (Jubaea chilensis), a tree in the Arecaceae family. In the Botanical Garden of Georgia, the palm tree is being carefully cultivated and fertilized.
This is a young palm of the colossal species of palm that has the thickest trunk of any known palm species – at about 180 centimetres (71 inches) in diameter. Native to the foothills of the Andes Mountains in central Chile, this palm grows to 18 metres (60 feet) tall. It can take many decades to reach that height. Consequently, it has become one of the most expensive palm trees to buy.
The trunk of the Chilean Wine Palm is nearly smooth. The crown is wider than it is tall and seems to have most of the leaves pointing upwards giving it a V-shape. The leaves are 3-4 metres (10-12 feet) long with a very short petiole (bare stem), making the central portion of the crown very thick with leaflets.
The Chilean Wine Palm is a monoecious species, meaning that one tree has both male and female flowers and can make fertile seeds without the assistance of another tree nearby. When mature, they form a tight cluster of yellow coloured fruit.
Photographed in the Botanical Garden of Georgia, Tbilisi in May 2017 and March 2018.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls