Brahea aculeata

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Brahea (brah-HEH-ah)
aculeata (ah-koo-leh-AH-tah)
Scientific Classification
Genus: Brahea (brah-HEH-ah)
aculeata (ah-koo-leh-AH-tah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Costapalmate
Survivability index
Common names
Sinaloa Hesper Palm, Aculeata Fan Palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Brahea aculeata is found in Mexico Northeast, Mexico Northwest,
Brahea aculeata - Koko Crater Botanical Garden - IMG 2345.JPG
(Sonora, Sinaloa, Durango) in the southern part of Sonora Desert on very dry, stony soils.


Brahea aculeata is a small tree between 6 and 29 feet tall (2-9 m), with serrated leaf stalks attaching to the trunk. It grows in the higher elevation TDF in the Río Mayo region. Habitat: Western Mexico. Leaf type: Costapalmate, Yellowish green. 30 to 40 leaflets. Leaf split to 2/3 of its ., sharp distantly spaced thorns. Trunk: closely ringed trunk, 8 inches in diameter (20 cm). Flower: small, white, monoecious. Flower stalk coming from between the leaves, shorter than the leaves. 2. 6, 3 carpels stamens. Fruit: black. 0.75 to 1 inch in diameter (2-2.5 cm) roundish. Editing by edric.


Requirements: Min. Temperature: Approx. 23°F (-5°C) Requirements: Water sparingly, Full sun, very well drained position; drought and frost tolerant. Slow growing, but a good plant for desert gardens, and warm temperate climates. Rarely seen in cultivation.

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Comments and Curiosities

Etymology: This genus was named after Tycho Brahe, a Danish astronomer.

Uses: Residents within its range have long used the durable, pliable fronds of this fan palm for rope-making, basketry, and roof thatching. As a roofing material they provide superb protection from heat and are quiet during heavy rains. Roofs last about twenty five years.

Today, I had the pleasure of visiting with Dale Motiska, the king of brahea. Dale is an early pioneer when it comes to brahea. He has brought back many seeds from habitat over the years. I got to look at a lot of aculeata, and the amount of variation amongst the various aculeata was stunning. He told me that he had found a nice grove of aculeata near San Carlos, and in the midst of all the green aculeata was a blue one. That's the one he collected seed from. The resulting offspring literally were like a rainbow of colors, from metallic green all the way to armata blue, with some aqua marine in between, and going from super pleaded complex thick, highly costa-palmate leaves to simpler, droopy "clara-style" leaves. Some of those aculeata very closely resembled the more mature "San Carlos" shown above. (see Palmtalk link san-carlos)

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos.

Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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