The First Issue of Principes   PRINCIPES October 1956, Volume 1, No. 1  

Cover of the very first Principes



A non-profit voluntary association primarily engaged in the study of the palm family in all its aspects throughout the world.  

President and Editor: Dent Smith, Florida * Vice President: Dr. R. Bruce Ledin , Florida * Secretary: Mrs. Claire Hargert, Florida * Treasurer: Miss Margueriete Martin, Florida. 

DIRECTORS: Mr. Paul H. Allen, Honduras; Mr. David Barry, Jr., California; Dr. 1. L. Clement, Cuba; Mr. William Hertrich, California; Mrs. Alvin R. Jennings, New Jersey; Mrs. A. C. Langlois, Bahamas; Dr. R. Bruce Ledin, Florida; Mr. Harold F. Loomis.  Florida; Dr. Harold E. Moore, Jr., New York; Mr. H. Bertram Smith, Florida; Mr. Dent Smith, Florida. 

Principes, plural of the Latin noun princess, is an alternative name of venerable age for the palms -"the Princes of the vegetable kingdom." The word is pronounced as the Latin Americans pronounce it, with the accent on the first syllable.  Webster, in anglicized Latin, has it Prin-si-pez. 

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Fortunately, not much bragging was indulged in about the marvelous qualities that would dazzle the readers of this maiden issue of PRINCIPES.  It is not up to the standards that had been visualized for it.  It is just as well, then, that we did not threaten to manufacture a cannon and turn out a pop-gun instead.  What ails this first issue chiefly is the want of good contemporaneous text and enough good pictures.  We cannot produce either out of thin air, but dare hope that one member here and another there will shortly begin to contribute some of each. 

Owing to the lack of original matter it has been necessary to resort to writings that first saw print a long time ago.  Not to say that reprints of inaccessible writings are without virtue; they have their merits, but we are in sore need of matter that adds to the supply of knowledge and injects today and tomorrow into the business. 

Manuscripts containing anything from a short paragraph up to 5,000 words, if competent and suitable, will be published in PRINCIPES.  MSS. properly prepared for the printer are typed on 8% x 11 white bond paper, double-spaced.  They should come to hand not later than thirty days, before the publication dates, which are January 1st, April 1st, July 1st and October 1st. 

To be of the most value to its members the Society must have a representative number of original writings in its publications.  The quarry is any kind of information that is pertinent. 

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At September 1st, 1956 the Society had 185 members.  From present indications the number will exceed 200 by the middle of October.  Since a roster was last published we have added one member each in several countries new for us, namely Australia, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Philippines, Jamaica, and two in the Territory of Hawaii.  We already had members in the Canal Zone, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Canada, Cuba, Dominica, France, Honduras, Mexico, New Zealand and Japan, so that now 17 geographic entities outside the continental U.S. are represented.  We still have not one member in India or in the entire continent of Africa, or rather we did not at September 1st. 



A palm being literally swallowed by a ficusCOVER PICTURE - Two, natives of Florida locked in a deadly but one-sided struggle - the "strangler fig," Ficus aurea, certain to emerge the victor over the Sabal Palmetto.  The crown of the palmetto, already sub-standard in expanse, is discernible in the center of the fig tree.  Details of the constricted trunk are shown in the Cover inset and in the two pictures below. 

Birds deposit the fig seeds in the high boots of the palmettoes or on the branches of other trees, whence aerial roots descend to the ground and forms stems which gradually surround the host trunks and merge there.  In time the host dies of strangulation, the trunk slowly decays and crumbles, and the woody fig enormously expands its own trunk to fill the vacated space, so that eventually no evidence of the murder remains. 

The range of the killer fig is supposed to be limited to southern Florida, where its habits may be frequently observed. In our cover picture, however, we find it far north of its presumed limits at Daytona Beach, and very much at home there in front of a house at 138 N. Wild Olive Avenue.  Obviously a northbound bird was not much concerned with phytogeography, nor was the fig itself. 

The base of the trunk The ficus wraps itself around the palm

From first to last a great many years must elapse before the fig, once only an epiphyte, will have finally killed the palmetto, for the trunk of the latter has no cambium layer and does not have to expand.  The end will come when the fig completely engulfs the palmetto foliage, literally swallowing it up.   


Note:  This very first issue of Principes is being slowly scanned by Administrative Secretary Lynn McKamey and more sections will be periodically added.  Excerpts from the 1957 issues will also be included.


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