The Dart: Towering palm trees give taste of tropics for couple

Published 12:12 am Monday, February 26, 2018


VIDALIA — Looking at the Ray and Pat Moore’s residence, one might feel as if he is in Florida rather than Louisiana.

A pair of palms stand tall outside the Moores’ Plum St. house, the landing spot of The Dart this week.

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The towering trees were planted side-by-side on opposite ends of the sidewalk leading up to the Moores’ front door. Pat said the palms look a little drab because of the especially harsh winter, but she and Ray said the trees have come back from freezes before.

“All of that will have to be cut off, but they’ll grow right back,” she said.

Standing a few dozen feet high, the palms have grown steadily since Ray got them more than 20 years ago in Florida.

“They started out as babies just in a 3-gallon pot,” Ray said.

But the trees, which Pat said she believes are a variety called king palms, are far from done growing. Pat said kings could reach heights up to 100 feet.

“We didn’t ever figure they’d get that tall,” Pat said.

Sticking with the front yard’s tropical theme, a smaller variety of the plant called Sago palm trees sit near the couple’s front entrance.

This pair of trees stand about as tall as an average-sized man, but they have some unique tendencies that make them stand out, as Ray explained.

“One day I went out there and it was just like (it looks now), but it had a cone sticking up in the middle that looked like an ostrich egg or something,” Ray said. “I come in and told (Pat), ‘I think that plant’s pregnant.’ She said, ‘What are you talking about?’ I said, ‘Well, it’s got an egg in the middle of it.’”

After doing some research, the couple discovered that the plants were actually different sexes — the female Sago had been pollinated and borne seeds. Pat said she gives the red, walnut-sized seeds away as gifts to people all the time.

The process of raising the seeds, she said, consists of soaking them in little pools of water over the course of several days.

The couple said the love the Sago palms, which ironically are not palms at all, but cone-bearing plans called cycads.

“These here are beautiful. These are as old as the dinosaur age,” Pat said.

But the plants bring joy to people other than the Moores. The couple said many people over the years have said how much they enjoy the palms.

“We’ve even had kids that are riding their bicycles down the street and say, “I love your palms,” Ray said.

The Moores’ yard is so distinct that one of their friends even decided to get married under the palm trees.

Though the trees currently do not look lush as they did for that wedding, as spring draws nearer the couple looks forward to having their plants return to their tropical form.