Flexible, Branchless Trees Could Cut Down On Power Outages

WESTBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A symbol of tropical vacations is taking root on Long Island.

Some residents seem to have visions of sipping pina coladas under palm trees without leaving their backyards.

As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Monday, the trees can survive hurricanes and seem to be exploding in popularity.

“I’m seeing them, yes. I’ve even seen them in the winter with Christmas lights on,” one woman told McLogan.

Fresh from the tropics and replanted on Long Island, palm trees are making their debuts outside malls, in backyards and around swimming pools.

“I’m from the Caribbean and I love palm trees,” said one woman.

“I love the way they look,” another Long Islander told McLogan.

There are 2,400 species and dozens of palm varieties. The warm-weather trees are touted as cold-hardy and can withstand temperatures that dip to zero degrees, McLogan reported.

Experts said the trees need a little care to help them survive the northeast winters.

“We’re going to wrap the entire tree with burlap so that it’s protected from the wind. The base of the tree, we’re going to add a couple of layers, a couple of inches of mulch in order to protect the root system from any freezing,” Clark Botanic Garden curator Ryan Torres told McLogan.

The trees are able to bend and sway and lack the branches more typical in this region. Plant experts said that combination could be a homeowner’s answer to the Long Island Power Authority.

“Having more palm trees means less trees down, means less power outages. And I think that given the new weather patterns, palm trees are the perfect solution,” landscape contractor Jason Bash with Kokomo Trading Company told McLogan.

Expert opinions vary on palm tree survivability, but there is no dispute the business on Long Island is exploding.

“The increase in popularity in palm trees in annual landscapes is tremendous now and they’ve become much more affordable,” Douglas Akerley of Hicks Nurseries told McLogan.

Saplings start at $39 and can grow very rapidly. But not all Long Islanders are embracing the tropics transplants with open arms.

“I’m on Long Island, I like maples and oaks. Palm trees belong in Florida!” Westbury homeowner Roberta Sigwart told McLogan.

Palm trees vary in cost from $30 to $2,000, depending on the age of tree, variety and installation.

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