Brahea armata

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Brahea (brah-HEH-ah)
armata (ahr-MAH-tah)
Menton, French Côte d'Azur, France. Photo by Philippe
Scientific Classification
Genus: Brahea (brah-HEH-ah)
armata (ahr-MAH-tah)
Erythea armata, E. glauca, E. roezlii
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Costapalmate
Survivability index
Common names
Mexican blue palm or "blue hesper palm", Gray Goddess.

Habitat and Distribution

Brahea armata is found in Baja California oases, and northwestern Mexico.
SoCal - Photo: Bill Sanford.


Height: up to 50 feet tall (15 m) or more. It has a stout trunk. Its distinctly bluish leaves are 1-2 meters wide, with meter-long petioles. The leaves are persistent in nature, forming a shag around the trunk; in cultivation they are typically burned or cut off. The inflorescences extend out beyond the crown, reaching 5 meters in length. The flowers themselves are small, appearing in February and March, while the fruits are 18-24 mm in length, brown and with a generally ovoid to globose shape. This species is the most widespread endemic palm of the northern peninsula; it is locally common in arroyos and canyon bottoms, and has been observed growing in rock crevices at higher elevations. It is sometimes found with Washingtonia filifera or Washingtonia robusta

B. armata has an attractive appearance, especially when young, and is commonly available at nurseries in the American southwest. It is drought tolerant (although occasional deep irrigation is recommended), can handle both partial shade and full sun, and temperatures down to -10 degrees C. Will take minumum temperatures down to 10°F (-12°C). Germination: erratic, 1 to 12 months. Several years old seed will grow. Leaf type: Costapalmate, Glaucous blue grey. Stiff, 25-30 leaves per crown, divided in 40 to 60 leaflets. Petiole extends to more than half of the central leafblade., 8-9 feet wide (2.4 to 2.7 m). non-divided, slightly armed with dark thorns, wooly wax cover. Trunk: Gray, smooth with leaf scars, or occasionally, persistant dead leaves, slightly swollen at the base, Up to 18 inches (45 cm). Flower: Monoecious. Flower stalk coming from between the leaves, from the crown, very long spadix, and flower, (up to 15 feet - 4.5 m). Fruit: brown. 0.8 inch. round edible. Seed: round. Editing by edric.


Requirements: Water sparingly, fast draining soil, full sun.

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Comments and Curiosities

It is found under a variety of names, including "Mexican blue palm", "blue hesper palm", "big blue hesper palm", "blue fan palm", "sweet brahea", and "palma blanca". The Cocopah people eat the seeds after roasting them.

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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