Brahea armataBrahea armata or Mexican blue palm is native to the desert of Baja California, Mexico.

Its beautiful blue crown that glows under the moonlight makes it an eye catcher.

It grows very slowly the first 10 years, as do most palm trees.

It is moderately hardy to -10 °C, and lower temps if it is planted in well drained soil.

Description:

Brahea armata is a slow growing palm tree that forms a stout stipe after a few years. The stipe is gray and smooth with leaf scars. It can measure to 15 m high and up to 45 cm in diameter.

The crown bears 25-30 leaves. The leaves are bluish, 1-2 m wide, on a 2.5 m long leaf stalk. They are costapalmate, the leaves indented at about half their length, blueish green and stiff. Each leaf has 40-60 leaflets. The leaf stalk has razor-sharp spines.

The dried leaves are persistent in nature, forming a skirt around the stipe. In culture, they are usually pruned.

The inflorescence is striking, yellow and up to 5 m long. The flowers are small, fragrant, hermaphrodite and self-pollinating. Flowering takes place in February-March.

The fruits are 18-24 mm long, brown and egg shaped to spherical. They are edible.

Nomenclature:

Synonyms:

Brahea armata var. microcarpa, Brahea clara, Brahea glauca, Brahea roezlii, Erythea armata, Erythea clara, Erythea roezlii, Glaucothea armata, Glaucothea elegans

Common names:

Mexican Blue Palm, Blue Hesper Palm

Etymology:

Brahea: in honor of the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546-1601)
Armata: from the Latin armatus (armed)

Origin:

Mexico

Habitat:

Desert



Hardiness:

USDA zones 8-9-10
Tolerates -10 °C, if well-drained soil even down to -14 °C

Care:

Exposure:

Prefers full sun but tolerates partial shade

Soil:

Poor and well drained, grows badly in rich soils

Propagation:

Seed.

Sowing instructions:

  • soak the seeds 1-2 days in tepid water
  • sow in moist sowing mix
  • 25-30 °C
  • germination time: a few weeks for fresh seed, otherwise 4-12 months

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