UM Urban Legends Series:

Many students have often wondered about the average cost of a single palm tree on campus, and the general consensus with students has traditionally been that each Royal Palm on campus is equal in cost to the tuition of one student.
“I heard the damn things cost $30,000 each,” junior Sam Havener said. “I’m taking four trees with me when I graduate – not the small ones either.”
The Miami Hurricane could not get a definitive answer from administration or from local palm growers as to the actual cost of a single palm tree because palm trees vary considerably from one to another. UM may also get bulk discounts and negotiate for better prices with local nurseries.
Many students, however, believe that the trees are well worth the price, whatever that may be.
“I think the trees add to the ambiance of the campus,” freshman Andrew Maiorano said. “They’re worth whatever they cost.”
“If UM has the money, it should be spent so that I can feel like I’m doing my calculus at a resort,” senior Susana Kulangara said.
Some disagree.
“I’d cut them all down if it would lower tuition,” Havener said.
In 2000, UM came up with a “Campus in a Garden” theme effort that brought hundreds of new palm trees to campus and developed the Palmetum [palm-ee-tum], a collection of over 400 rare and exotic palm trees from around the world, including some endangered species. It is the only collection of palms of this type on a US college campus.
Along with the garden idea, UM is also creating a “seed bank” for future generations of trees.
“The seed bank sounds interesting,” Kelly Jackson said. “Even if UM spends a million dollars for new trees now, at least we will have a lot of seeds to plant in a few years.”
Many students have commented to the Miami Hurricane that they are awe-struck by the 80-foot tall Royal Palms at the Stanford Drive entrance to UM and at the Palm Court Fountain near the Ashe building and Richter Library.
However, many don’t realize that Royal Palms lose a couple of their huge fronds every month. Experts say the fronds should be removed before they fall because they can cause injury or damage to other plants and to people.
“Once I watched in awe as one of these massive [fronds] fell to the ground where I stood, missing my head by a few yards and meeting the ground with a prodigious thud,” said Raj Singh in a Miami Hurricane Opinion column last year. “My hope is that these lifeless fronds are preemptively clipped before they come crashing down like cosmic debris.”
Also associated with Royal Palms is a serious disease, Ganoderma butt rot, which enters the trunk through injuries on the lower trunk and roots. It is not dangerous to humans unless a part of the tree breaks off and falls on someone.
“The last thing I want is for butt rot to fall on me and kill me,” freshman Cherylyn Almonte said. “I’m glad that I always see workers maintaining the trees.”

The Miami Hurricane will continue to investigate popular urban legends at UM through the month of February.

For suggestions on urban legends to be researched, please contact Jorge Arauz, News Editor, at

February 11, 2003


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.