Brahea armata

Common name

blue hesper palm

Description

Stems: Solitary, erect, to 15 m in height and 45 cm in diameter and somewhat swollen at the base. Old leaves or leaf bases may cover the stem, but with age, it becomes bare with rings of leaf scars. Leaves: Costapalmate, induplicate, icy-blue or blue-green, up to 2.5 m across, and divided to about the midpoint into stiff segments with bifid tips. The petioles are armed with robust marginal teeth and covered with wooly hairs. Flowers and fruit: The spectacular inflorescences are up to 5 m long and hang downward from among the leaves. Flowers are hermaphroditic, with yellow petals. Fruit oblong to spherical, about 2 cm across, and brown to black when mature.

Diagnostic features

Field: A robust, solitary palm with slight swelling at the base of the stem, icy-blue to blue-green leaves, and irregular teeth along the petiole margins

Lab: Black to brown floccose indumentum

May be confused with

Washingtonia sp. are somewhat similar and grow in many of the same locations, but Washingtonia palms are grassy green, not blue or silvery. Brahea brandegeei could be confused with B. armata, but its leaves are green on the upper surface.

Distribution

Native to sandy or rocky soils in desert of northwestern Mexico

Additional comments

Often planted in California and other hot, dry regions of the southwestern United States

Scientific name

Brahea armata S.Watson

Family

Arecaceae/Palmae

Synonyms

Brahea clara (L.H.Bailey) Espejo & López-Ferrari

Brahea roezlii Linden

Erythea armata (S.Watson) Watson

Erythea clara L.H.Bailey

Erythea elegans Franceschi ex Becc.

Erythea roezlii (Linden) L.H.Bailey

Glaucothea armata (S.Watson) O.F.Cook

Glaucothea elegans (Franceschi ex Becc.) Johnston

Last Updated May 2014

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