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Hardy Palms for Central Texas

Brahea (Rock Palm)
All are native to limestone terrain from northern Mexico, south to Panama. I have seen them in sites as varied as the rocky plains of the Chihuahuan Desert southeast of the Big Bend and the cloud forests on the eastern face of the Sierra Madre Oriental. B. armata, with strikingly blue foliage and B. beriandieri, B. decumbens & B. moorei are grown here.

Butia (Jelly Palm, Pindo Palm)
This group of South American feather palms contains just one widely-available hardy species, B. capitata. It perfoms best in well-drained sites and benefits from iron supplements such as "Green Sand".  Its fruits are edible. Butia bonnetii should also be tried in protected sites as well as the magnificent Butia X Syagrus hybrid, said to be hardy to 10 degrees.

Chamaedorea (Bamboo Palm, Parlor Palm)
Though normally grown as house plants, C. elegans, C. radicalis and a few other species can survive most San Antonio winters. After the coldest of winters, they will resprout slowly as root-hardy perennials. They are best grown in moist and shady sites near the southeast wall of a heated structure.

Chamaerops (Mediterranean Fan Palm)
One of the hardiest palms, suitable for sun or shade, in this region.  Because of its spiny leaf-stalks, the cluster-forming C. humilis, should not be placed near pools or children's play areas.

Cocos (Coconut Palm)
Cocos australis, a name (with no botanical standing) a few troglodytes still use for Butia capitata.

Erythea armata is an older name for Brahea armata, the Mexican Blue Palm.

Guihaia (Karst Palm)
A genus of two species, Guihaia argyrata from south China and G. grossefibrosa of northern Vietnam and Guangxi Province of China. They occur only on steep, karst (limestone) slopes and are surprisingly cold-hardy. These low-growing, clustering plants should be grown in sunny sites. G. argyrata has a silvery leaf underside.

Jubaea (Chilean Wine Palm)
Jubaea chilensis is grown only in the most protected sites, such as along the River Walk. In warmer, semiarid climates, mature specimens grow very slowly to massive proportions.

Nannorrhops (Afghan Palm, Mazari Palm)
N. ritchieana is one of the cold-hardiest palms for this region. Regrettably, it is very slow-growing, almost unavailable and expensive. Can be grown from seed or division of basal suckers.

Phoenix (Date Palm)
P. canariensis, from the Canary islands, and P. theophrasti, from Crete, are the hardiest members of the genus. The true Date Palm of desert oasis fame, P. dactylifera is also grown here but it seldom produces fruit since it requires cross pollination and no rain while the fruits are forming.

Rhapidophyllum (Needle Palm)
R. bystrix is the cold-hardiest palm. This slow-growing plant is also known as the "Porcupine Palm" and thrives in shady places.

Sabal (Palmetto)
The palmettoes are quite hardy in central Texas. The Dwarf Palmetto, S. minor, is native in Bexar County, as well as in the Hill Country. The other garden-worthy specimens are the tree-like S. bermudana, Bermuda Palmetto, and S. mexicana, Texas Palmetto. Sabal uresana, if widely available, would be our most popular palm because of its cold hardiness and blue leaf color.

Serenoa (Saw Palmetto)
S. repens, the sole species in the genus, is native to the southeast United States. The silvery to blue-gray leafed forms do best in sun, the greener ones in sun or shade. Saw Palmetto berry extract is taken by many men to prevent benign enlargement of the prostate and male pattern baldness.

Trachycarpus (Windmill Palm)
Both T. fortunei, the Chinese Windmill Palm, and the smaller-leafed T. wagnerianus (T. takil), the Nepalese Windmill Palm, grow very well in this area.

Washingtonia (Fan Palm)
W. filifera, California Fan Palm, is the hardy one. W. robusta, the Mexican Fan Palm, is much less cold hardy, yet it is still sold by some ignorant nurserymen as well as most roadside palm vendors. Caveat emptor!

The botanical images on this site were produced by The Photon Hunt.

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Copyright at Common Law by Manuel Flores