A recent palm discovery by Martin Gibbons , a modern day plant hunter who went to China in 1994 having come across interesting book references referring to Trachycarpus martianus in China. He wanted to know why Trachyarpus martianus would be growing in China.
Dr. Heinrich Handel-Mazzetti, an Austrian botanist who made some explorations in south-east Tibet and north-west Yunnan between 1914 and 1918 published his findings in a book called “Symbol’ Sinic'” in German in 1936, he wrote “Trachycarpus martianus…N.W. Yunnan. In the subtropical zone of the Burmese monsoonal forest on cliffs of crystalline limestone, in the Salween-gorge above Chamutong until below Niualo, 1725-1900m,….and from here replanted in the village of Sitjitong.
The rest is history, Martin Gibbons went there and soon realised this was a wonderful new species, he found them growing on a sheer limestone cliff face and described them to science, and they began to appear in cultivation.
Subsequently they have been found in 3 locations. Firstly, the Stonegate cliffs from which they have their name (The Stonegate Palm) , Sitjitong village which may be replanted palms from the stonegate ,and some km away close to the border with Burma where there is a second wild population. This population may display slight variation.
Whilst it is relatively recent to cultivation, it has already proved at least as hardy as Trachycarpus fortunei, and fairly fast growing. Everybody agrees it is far more beautiful ,with its white backed leaves.
This is one of the very best palms you can grow in the UK.
Its cultural requirements are fairly similar to Trachycarpus fortunei. It is however vulnerable as a young plant to canker , good drainage and airflow is essential. Sulphur seems to keep any problems at bay.