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 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, USA


Blue Needle Palm Tree In France


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.

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


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

Needle Palm Tree

They have beautiful darker green deeply segmented fan shape 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.

Because they love moist areas they are best planted as an accent to larger shade producing trees.

Photo taken by Raulbot in Washington DC.

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 Close

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 plant where they can be seen to be appreciated and not felt.

Blue Needle Palms in Argentina

Photo by:Abestrobi  in Argentina.

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.

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  • Sabal Palmetto

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NOTE :  About Buying Palms

If you are looking to buy palm trees of any kind then I would highly recommend purchasing through the Real Palm Tree Store.

They are a huge nursery based in Florida with connections to many quality growers.

Whether you are ordering from inside the United States, Canada or another part of the world-- ordering one tree for your landscape or many for a commercial project-- I’m confident you won’t be disappointed.

Their customer service is second to none; all products are high quality and backed by a money back 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Make sure to visit real palm trees, ask questions and read the reviews before buying anywhere else.

Palm Tree Store

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Other articles you may find helpful:

Cold hardy varieties list all the palms that can withstand below freezing temps

Indoor palms list the trees that are the easiest to grow in your home or office year round.

Growing explains the plant hardiness zones, soil conditions and other commonly used garden terminology.

Planting shows the best practices for getting your next palm off to a great start.

Identification describes where on the tree to look to assist in making a determination of species.

Fertilizing will show you how to calculate the amount to use, where to place it, how often, what kind to look for and how to read the numbers.

Check out these lists of small  and large  palms for landscapes for even more possibilities.

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