Needle Palm Trees

There are 2 special varieties of needle palm trees that can tolerate more than just below freezing temperatures but also quite used to snow.  

They are each pretty in their own ways- one with beautiful blue leaves and the other a deep green.

They are both named this for a good reason!

Needle Palm Tree in Maryland, USAGreen Needle Palm Tree
Blue Needle Palm Tree In FranceBlue Needle Palm Tree

 CC Origunal Photo by:Benjamin Grassineau

 From North America

The green variety originates in wetter regions of south eastern United States.

Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and South Carolina are just a couple.

The spines are usually underneath and attached to the base of the leaf stems.


They are sometimes called the vegetable porcupine because of the sharp spines that can be over 6 inches long.

Ouch!

They have beautiful darker green deeply segmented fan shape leaves with a silver tone on their underside.

This needle palm gets a brown mass of fibers attached to the trunk that sometimes makes the sharp spines hard to see.

It does flower and produce a fruit that looks on the brownish side when it’s ripe and are covered in what looks like short white hairs.  

These guys are quite cold tolerant and really don’t get very tall-anywhere from 6-12 feet tall at most.

Needle Palm TreeNeedle Palm Tree

CC   Photo taken by Raulbot in Washington DC

Because they love moist areas they are best planted as an accent to larger shade producing trees, and may need to be fertilized a little more often.

Keep in mind with the long sharp spines; don’t plant near walkways or other foot traffic spots. 

Needle Palm Tree - Medium

Quick info:   Scientific name   Rhapidophyllum hystrix

  • 8-12 ft wide, 5-8 ft wide, multi trunk
  • Minimum temp 20°F   zone 7-11
  • Part sun to part shade, slow growing
  • Any soil with organic matter to hold moisture

South America Needle Palm

Blue Needle Palm Tree up CloseBlue Needle Palm Tree

The Blue Needle Palm originates in South America. Countries like Argentina and Uruguay are home to this fan palm.

It currently is not placed in the same branch of the family as the green variety.

The two are slightly similar.

The blue needle also has brown fibers covering its trunk, and sharp spines embedded in the fibers.


Their leaves are very rigid making them also sharp enough to cut thru skin, like little knives.

They do get yellow flower spikes and fruit that starts off white then turns to near brown when ripe.

The blue variety does better in full sun though, and gets a bit bigger in height and width.

They have very pretty deeply divided fan leaves that will range in color from silver to a silvery green or blue to a greenish blue. It all depends on the plant.

The biggest difference is this one originates in semi arid, a lot drier climates. It also can tolerate colder temps to 13°F.

These 2 special cold hardy needle palm trees can really help to bring that little slice of paradise to much cooler climates.

Just don’t forget that both can be dangerous to passersby so make sure to place where they can be seen to be appreciated and not felt.

Quick info: scientific name    Trithrinax campestris

  • 20 plus ft tall and 10 ft wide, in natural habitat, clumping variety
  • Minimum temp 13°F   zone 7-11
  • Full sun, any well drained that is neither too high nor low on the pH scale
  • Drought tolerant, slow to very slow grower.
Blue Needle Palms in ArgentinaBlue Needle Palms in Argentina

CC  Original Photo by: Abestrobi

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