Palms In Southern Switzerland

Gian-Reto Walther and his colleagues have tracked the expansion of Trachycarpus fortunei, the windmill palm, (similar to the palmetto in the United States), into southern Switzerland, following rising minimum

A windmill palm (Jeff Dixon)

winter temperatures and a lengthening growing season. Windmill palms have been reproducing naturally in the foothills of the southern Alps. They have also been observed spreading into gardens and parks as far north as southern costal England, Brittany (in France), the Netherlands, and coastal southwestern British Columbia, all areas where warmer nights have extended the average annual growing season to well over 300 days many years (Walther et al., 2007). The palms of Switzerland are being observed about 300 kilometers (more than 200 miles) outside their historical range. Scientists conclude that the spread of these palms is a "significant global bio-indicator across continents for present-day climate change and the projected global warming of the near future" (Walther etal., 2007).

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