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Mexican Blue Palm, Blue Hesper Palm

Mexican Blue Palm, Blue Hesper Palm
Brahea armata

Family:

Arecaceae, Palm Family

Form:

Tree

Range:

Baja California, Mexico

Habitat:

Canyon bottoms and arroyos

Living Desert Location:

Vizcaino Garden, Palm Garden

Factoid:

Some specimens exhibit exceedingly vibrant blue-gray leaves.

The intense blue-gray color of its leaves makes the blue palm a strikingly beautiful plant. The fan-shaped leaves can be six feet across and are held on three to five foot long, heavily toothed leaf bases forming the crown of the palm, which can be 15 to 18 feet wide. The slow growing blue palm reaches heights of 50 feet with a stout trunk. The flower stalks emerge in February and March and extend beyond the leaves. Flowering of young plants is not uncommon, and the flowers often hang down to the ground in these smaller plants. The flowers are small and cream-colored and result in somewhat fleshy, round fruits with very hard seeds inside. The seeds were roasted and eaten by some Native Americans.

Only found naturally in Baja California, this palm is common to canyon bottoms and arroyos and is widespread in the northern part of the peninsula. It sometimes occurs with the California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera) or the Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta). It grows from sea level up to 5, 000 feet and tolerates both drought and cold. It reportedly can survive temperatures down to -10°C. Often grown for use as a landscape ornamental, it enjoys full sun and very well-draining soil.

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