Bismarckia nobilis (Bismarck palm)

Native to Madagascar, this fan palm features huge silvery-blue leaves. Bismarck Palms are slow growers, especially before the formation of a trunk. Although they quickly recover from minor cold damage, these need protection to be grown outdoors in zone 9. This species is the only recorded member in its genus.

Bismarckia nobilis (Bismarck Palm)
Family: Arecaceae
Subspecies: none officially
Native: Madagascar
Hardiness Zones: 10-11
Height: to 18 meters tall, rarely to 20
Diameter: 4.5 meters at maturity, trunk to 30 centimeters
Root System: fibrous, shallow, roots grey or black
Growth Rate: slow to moderate (30-60cm annually), producing several leaves at a time on healthy specimens (each at slightly different developmental stages)
Age: max height usually within 20 years, typically to 50 years total
Deciduous: no
Monoecious/dioecious: dioecious
Monocot/dicot: monocot
Tolerates: salt (moderate), drought, breakage
Problems (major): scale infestations (if not detected and treated early), root rot (if put in wet soil), proper watering difficult for inexperienced growers
Problems (minor): fairly slow-growing, leaf tip burn from watering with water containing fluorides and other ions
Poisonous: consumption toxic for pets
Soil requirements: prefers medium/loamy soils, tolerates light/sandy soils, acidic to slightly alkaline, good drainage required
Air requirements: soil must have decent air flow; air pollution effects seemingly undetermined
Watering requirement: high IN FULL SUN ONLY , water typically 3 times a week, more frequently after transplanting (up to twice a day if necessary), much more moderate in temperate areas grown indoors
Sun requirement: full sun to partial shade
Leaves: fan-like, simple, palmate, spirally arranged, silvery-gray-blue, massive, to 1.2 meters (4 feet) long by 1.2 meters (4 feet) wide without recurved (facing base)
thorns on petiole
Flowers: Flower stalks grow to 1.2 meters (4 feet) long with white flowers
Fruits: to 5 centimeters (2 inches) wide, round, light green to brown upon maturity
Form: symmetrical
Notable characteristics:
Bismarck Palms boast silver-gray-blue palmate leaves forming a symmetrical pattern. Germination, in warm and moist conditions, should occur within 8 weeks for ripe seeds.

These are grown solely for their ornamental value.

Sources used:

blue_palm_leaves Young foliage
Blue_Palm_2Emerging foliage
Leaf bases of a young plant

20151003_114338 Young form

20151206_111951 Adventitious root system20151206_111948 Effects of drastic over-watering, dying foliage and rotting roots

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


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