Beaucarnea recurvata (Ponytail Palm)

Ponytail Palms are more closely related to yuccas and agaves rather than true palms. The foliage is very long although
thin; the trunk is thin aside from the very wide and large base known as a “caudex”, which stores water.

Beaucarnea recurvata (Ponytail Palm)
Deciduous: no
Hardiness Zones: 9-12 (survives to 20 degrees Fahrenheit)
Height: 1.8-2.4 meters (6-8 feet) indoors, to 9 meters (30 feet) in native habitats (arid regions in Central America)
Diameter: 1-1.5 meters (3-5 feet) indoors, to 3.6 meters (12 feet) across in native habitats
Growth Rate: slow
Age: perennial, typically matures by 50 years old
Root System: minimal surface roots, thin roots sensitive to overwatering
Family: currently Ruscaceae (formerly Asparagaceae, Agavaceae, Nolinaceae, Dracaenaceae, Liliaceae, Araceae)
Subspecies: var. intermedia

Tolerates: drought
Problems (major): root rot and stem rot potentially fatal
Problems (minor): spider mites, mealybug (new growth/young plants), leaf spots, bacterial leaf streak
Poisonous: non-toxic to dogs, cats, and horses

Soil requirements: requires excellent drainage, suitable for light/sandy, medium/loamy, and heavy/clay soils
Air requirements: prefer dry conditions
Watering requirement: low to moderate (somewhat dry)
Sun requirement: full sun

Leaf shape: flat, palm-like, curved, arching
Leaf size: to 6 feet long by 1 inch wide
Stem: heavily buttressed (onion-like, to 7 feet across), thin, typically singular (some young stems produced with age),
arborescent
Flowering structure: long clusters of white/cream/yellow flowers
Flowering frequency: rare (especially indoors), only in mature plants (2-3 times a year at its peak), June-July
Fruits: small, 1 centimeter long, inconspicuous
Subterranean storage organ: roots, “caudex” (very wide base) above ground
Monocot/Dicot: monocot

Notable characteristics:
The very large, wide base is called a “caudex” and stores significant quantities of water. B. recurvata is not a true
palm, despite its informal name. These may produce offsets/suckers/pups.

Uses:
Ponytail Palms are commonly grown as large houseplants that overwinter well indoors.

Sources used:

DSC04176   
The thin stem and foliage, roughly 5 meters (16 feet) tall at the Missouri Botanical Garden

DSC04191 
The caudex

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that
this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Beaucarnea recurvata (Ponytail Palm)

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