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Beaucarnea recurvata (Ponytail Palm)

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Scientific Name

Beaucarnea recurvata Lem.

Common Names

Ponytail Palm, Pony Tail Palm, Pony Tail, Bottle Ponytail, Bottle Palm, Elephant’s Foot, Elephant’s Foot Tree

Synonyms

Beaucarnea inermis, Beaucarnea tuberculata, Dasylirion inerme, Dasylirion inermis, Dasylirion recurvatum, Nolina recurvata, Nolina tuberculata, Pincenectitia tuberculata

Scientific Classification

Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Nolinoideae
Genus: Beaucarnea

Description

Beaucarnea recurvata is a dioecious, evergreen, succulent tree. It is often seen as a houseplant, but it can reach up to 30 feet (9 m) tall outdoors. Base of the trunk is swollen with up to 3 feet (90 cm) long leaves that form clumps at the ends of the branches and droop down. Flowers occasionally once plants mature and then in late spring or summer. The small cream-colored flowers are held in a up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall, pyramidal-shaped inflorescence at the branch tips and are sometimes followed by reddish, winged fruit.

Photo via viridea.it

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 45 °F (+7.2 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Ponytail Palm is basically a “plant it and forget it” kind of plant, providing it has enough light to thrive and somewhat steady water throughout the growing season. Because this is an arid plant by nature, periods of dryness are not deadly for an established plant. Ponytail palms should never be top-trimmed, and they will respond wonderfully to a consistent feeding program in the growing season. Keep in mind, though, that it is an extremely slow-growing plant, so don’t expect your desktop plant to transform into a corner specimen in 1 or 2 growing seasons.

Repot in the spring as needed. If your goal is to grow a large Ponytail Palm, repot every year. If you want to keep it smaller, repot every other year. Ponytail Palm will thrive when slightly underpotted.

Origin

Beaucarnea recurvata is native to the states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz and San Luis Potosí in eastern Mexico.

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