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BRAHEA armata

Image of Brahea armata

James H. Schutte

Family

Arecaceae

Botanical Name

BRAHEA armata

Plant Common Name

Blue Hesper Palm, Mexican Blue Palm

General Description

Featuring bold beautiful evergreen leaves and a spectacular display of summer flowers, this native of Baja California and northwestern mainland Mexico is a palm for all seasons. Wind- and heat-tolerant, it grows slowly into a medium-sized, thick-trunked tree.

The huge, blue-green to silver-green, fan-shaped fronds are divided into 40 to 60 long, blade-like segments, that radiate like the spokes of an umbrella. Twenty-five to thirty fronds are borne atop the trunk on long, erect, inclined, or drooping stems ("petioles"), forming a dense, rounded, symmetrical crown. The petioles are edged with short curved spines. A "skirt" of drooping older leaves sometimes fringes the base of the crown. Plants are initially stemless, developing a trunk after a few years. Trunks of young plants bristle with the protruding, wedge-shaped petiole bases of fallen leaves, creating a pineapple effect. The petiole bases eventually drop to reveal the gray, horizontally grooved trunk. Enormous, showy, tassel-like clusters of small creamy flowers droop from the crown on long stems in summer. Small round fleshy fruits follow the flowers, ripening black. Bees visit the flowers, and birds and other wildlife eat the fruits.

Grow Mexican blue palm in full sun in porous soils; neutral to alkaline soils are best. It will survive temperatures of well below freezing if the soil is not damp. Although tolerant of heat, wind and drought, this species will perform much better if watered occasionally in summer. Feature this stunning palm against a background of dark green trees or a dark building, or combine it with other woody plants in a mixed border.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 8

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 11

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Palm or Cycad

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    20'-60' / 6.1m - 18.3m

  • Width

    12'-20' / 3.7m - 6.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Summer

  • Native To

    Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Ivory

  • Fruit Color

    Black

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Blue Green, Gray Green, Steel Blue, Silver, Gray

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Blue Green, Gray Green, Steel Blue, Silver, Gray

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Blue Green, Gray Green, Steel Blue, Silver, Gray

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    White, Blue Green, Gray Green, Silver, Gray

  • Bark Color

    Sienna, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Bold

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Fissured

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Mixed Border, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No