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House 1- Main Palm Dome

Main Palm Dome-House 1

The Main Palm Dome is the largest greenhouse in the Botanical Gardens. The Dome is made up of 3,300 panes of glass and is 67 feet high at its tallest point! Underneath the Dome, you'll find a number of palms and tropical plants from all over the world.

 What can you find in this greenhouse? 

Palms are not actually trees, they are just really tall herbaceous plants! They grow in tropical and subtropical environments around the world. There are many different species of palms, some palms have tall, solitary trunks while others have multiple trunks. Palms only produce leaves at the top of the plant. This is referred to as a crown. As the palm grows, old leaves are shed. This leaves round rings around the stem called leaf scars. 


Red Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia pulcherrima 
This plant is a member of the pea family and is native to the tropics and subtropics of the Americas. It makes bright orange and red flowers and its branches are lined with sharp spines.  


Old Man Palm, Coccothrinax crinita - Native to Cuba, this palm has beautiful fan like leaves that form a crown at the top of the palm. However, the trunk is what makes this palm so special. It is covered in a thick layer of wool like fibers, often called thatch. This thatch helps the palm absorb moisture from its environment. The thatch looks similar to hair, making it look like the old man palm is growing a beard on its trunk!

Foxtail Palm, Wodyetia bifurcata - This rare palm is native to Queensland, Australia and was entirely unknown to botanists until 1978. Its long, feather like leaves almost give it the appearance of a bushy fox’s tail, resulting in the palm’s common name.

Chocolate Tree, Theobroma cacao 

This tree produces one of the world’s most delicious product—chocolate! Chocolate trees are native to the rainforests of Central and South America. They produce small pinkish-white flowers that bloom directly on the bark of the tree trunk and branches. In order to make fruit, these flowers need to be pollinated. Here at the Botanical Gardens, we pollinate them by hand! Our gardeners use tiny paintbrushes to move pollen from one flower to another. Then the flowers can produce fruit! Chocolate fruit, also called cacao pods, are football shaped and filled with large seeds. These seeds are what people use to make chocolate. The seeds need to be fermented, dried, roasted, and ground up before being used to make chocolate. 

Ponderosa Lemon, Citrus limon × medica 
This plant is a hybrid of two different types of citrus plants: a lemon and a citron. The ponderosa lemon produces small, white, lemon-scented flowers that produce fruit. The fruits grow very large. Under the right conditions, they can grow to weigh as much as 1-2 pounds. That's as much as 4-8 regular sized lemons! Though they do taste similar to regular lemons, they have a higher sugar content and are much sweeter. 

Prickly Cycad, Encephalartos altensteinii 
The prickly cycad is a very slow-growing tree from South Africa. It produces extremely large seed cones that look like giant pinecones. Because the prickly cycad grows so slowly, this isn't a plant you could grow from a seed in your lifetime. We believe that this prickly cycad is the oldest plant in the Botanical Gardens. Though it's hard to tell, we estimate that this plant is between 300-400 years old!