Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bismarckia Palm

Bismarckia nobilis

The single species within the genus Bismarckia, this is among the most stately and beautiful of all Palms.
This Palm, native to Madagascar, grows tall with a very stout trunk topped by very large, palmate leaves. It is long lived and very fast growing, reaching 60 feet or more, growing up to 15 new leaves per year. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 3 feet; 7 years - 20 feet ( trunk height ); largest on record - 120 x 32 feet with a trunk diameter of 3 feet ( heights up to 200 feet have been reported in Madagascar making it among the worlds tallest Palms ).
The massive fronds, up to 8 x 11 feet, are borne on thick stalks up to 6 feet in length. The silvery-blue leaflets are up to 60 x 3 inches in size.
The flower spikes are up to 5 feet in length.
The brown fruits, up to 1.5 inches across, include a large seed surrounded by dry flesh.
Hardy zones 9 to 12, tolerating 25 F with no injury, 13 F with some foliage damage ( green clones are only hardy to 30 F ). Large fruiting Bismarckias are now seen north of Tampa Bay and in the Orlando area in Florida. They can suffer from cold damage, but recover quickly. Easy to grow, they thrives in full sun on acidic or alkaline, sandy, deep, well drained soil. Very tolerant of drought and moderately tolerant of salt. Not typically bothered by insects or disease. It prefers a subtropical to tropical climate with a distinct wet summer and a distinct dry season ( perfect example - south Florida ). It will also thrive in warm temperate climates on a very hot sunny site on very well drained soil. To propagate; sow fresh seeds in a container 12 inches deep. Strip off the fleshy coating first. The seeds usually take just under 2 months to germinate. Only pot grown trees should be planted; it is difficult to transplant due to its deep taproot.

* photos taken on Jan 3 2011 @ Deerfield Beach Arboretum, Florida



* historic archive photo

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