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cold hardy palms

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Cold Hardy Palms, (Continued Page 2)


Cold Hardy Palms
Although a comprehensive list of all species is not possible here, there are many palms that do tolerate some degree of cold.  We shall break it down into three groups:  Palms for extremely severe cold weather, palms for moderately severe cold weather, and palms for very cold weather with definite freezes.  Obviously, plant species from a colder group would be grown easily by people who find themselves in a warmer grouping. 

Palm Trees For Extremely Severe Cold Weather 
(15 degrees and lower):

Butia capitata  A blue-green colored pinnate palm of medium stature with a stout trunk and re-curved pinnate leaves.  Known as the Pindo Palm or the Jelly Palm, Butia capitata can tolerate temperatures slightly below 15 degrees.  I've just had reports of no damage to 12 degrees.

Butia bonnetii: Similar to Butia capitata but perhaps slightly more cold tolerant.  It has less blue in the leaves and is somewhat smaller.

Brahea armata:  A large, single trunk silver-blue leafed fan palm that tolerates heat, cold to about 15 degrees, and arid conditions.  Known as the Mexican Blue Fan Palm, this species is slow growing and tolerates xerophytic conditions.  More recent reports show definite leaf damage at 12 degrees F.

Chamaerops humilis:  A green to silver-green fan leafed, suckering palm that gets to about 15 feet.  It tolerates dry, arid conditions and temperatures to about 5 degrees.  Common name is Mediterranean Fan Palm. 


Jubaea chilensis:  A very thick trunked, tall pinnate palm known as the Chilean Wine Palm.  Known to be very slow growing, it can tolerate inland sun and a good deal of cold, probably to about 15 degrees.  You plant this one for your kids because its so slow growing.  Very valuable when mature sized

Jubaea X Butia This is an unusual hybrid, often grown as an F2 hybrid from existing mature specimens.  It gives one a fast growing plant with a trunk almost the size of a pure Jubaea.  Reports are that this hybrid tolerates temps down to 14 degrees F.  It has a thick trunk and is much faster growing than pure Jubaea



Nannorrhops ritcheana:  A suckering, small (to 12 feet) attractive fan palm that has green and blue forms.  This clumping palm tolerates hot sun, dry conditions, and temperatures to about 15 degrees or slightly lower.   

Rhapidophylum hystrix:  Probably this species is the most cold hardy of all palms.  It is a small to medium sized, suckering fan palm that will grow in sun or filtered light.  It will tolerate under 0 degrees F.

Sabal bermudana 

Sabal bermudanaThis is a large trunked, full sun species that will tolerate temperatures to about 15 degrees F.  It has a full head of leaves and gets to about 20 feet.  It likes full sun and heat.


Sabal riverside

Sabal riverside:  A blue-green, large fan palm that tolerates hot sun and is quick growing.  It is probably a form of a Caribbean Sabal that just happens to take cold quite well.  Recent reports are this species does well at 12 degrees F.  Other very hardy Sabal species that should take 15 degrees or lower include S. etonea, minor, palmetto and causarium. 


 Washingtonia filifera:  A large single-trunked, tall fan palm that loves the hot desert areas and tolerates temperatures to about 15 degrees or slightly colder.  Note that Washingtonia filifera is definitely more cold hardy that it's sister, W. robusta.     

Serenoa repens:  A dwarf, suckering fan palm that is typically green in color, but occasional blue-colored varieties are available.  It will tolerate down to 10 degrees.

Trachycarpus fortunei:  A single trunk, medium height fan palm with a hairy trunk and nice full head.  Known as the Chinese Windmill Palm.  It will tolerate temperatures down to about 5 degrees.

Trachycarpus takil:  A single trunk palm similar to T. fortunei but a bit taller with deeper splits in the leaves.  It should tolerate 15 degrees, buy more feedback is needed.

Trithrinax acanthicoma:  A medium sized, single trunk fan palm to about 15 feet with attractive spines on the fibrous trunk.  It tolerates full sun and takes temperatures to at least 15 degrees and perhaps 12 degrees F.

Palms For Moderately Severe Cold Weather 
(16 to 23 degrees F. or warmer)

All plants from the previous list.


Acoelorrhaphe wrightii:
A profusely suckering, thin trunked, medium sized fan palm that is native to the Everglade area and likes wet conditions.  It will tolerate high moisture conditions and temperatures to about 18 to 20 degrees.  It prefers full sun.

Arenga engleri:
An attractive, suckering pinnate palm with heights to about 10 to 12 feet with very fragrant blossoms.  The leaflets are irregular and tropical appearing.  Tolerates filtered light or sun in most areas.  Blossoms are fragrant.  Cold tolerance estimated at 18 degrees.

Brahea aculeata: 
A single trunk, medium sized fan palm with blue-green leaves that is somewhat slow growing and tolerates temperatures to approximately 18 to 20 degrees

Brahea edulis: 
A slow growing medium sized fan palm with a rather stout trunk and green leaves.  Tolerates full sun and wind.  At maturity can reach 25 to 30 feet.  It tolerates down to about 18 to 20 degrees.  12 to 15 degrees will definitely damage the foliage of this species.

Brahea nitida:
Another Brahea species that tolerates about the same temperatures as the other two but has not armor on the petioles and has large, somewhat flattened green leaves.

Butia eriospatha: 
Similar to Butia capitata but only tolerates to about 18 to 20 degrees.  It is distinguished by wooly material on the heart and flowers.

  Butia x Queen

Butia X Syagrus:  This is an interesting hybrid that gives the speed and a bit of the look of the Queen but the cold hardiness of the Pindo Palm.  It takes down to about 15 to 16 degrees and is very attractive.  It's known as the Mule Palm


Butia paraguayensis:   
Similar to Butia capitata but smaller and more green, tolerates to about 20 degrees.

Calamus carytoides:  
A surprising palm that is armed, suckering, small to medium sized with irregular leaflets and cold tolerance to about 22 degrees.  Best for filtered light.

Caryota urens: 
A massively tall, single trunked and attractive palm that is monocarpic and dies when it blossoms after about 25 years.  Very attractive.  Will tolerate to about 20 degrees, perhaps a bit lower, and needs lots of room.


Ceroxylon species: 
There are some species of Ceroxylon that may tolerate down to about 20 degrees.  These are single trunked, very tall pinnate palms that grow into full sun and wont take dry desert wind.

Chamaedorea radicalis:
A dwarf, shade or possibly sun tolerant trunkless pinnate palm that only gets to about 4 feet tall and has colorful orange-red fruit.  Good for the interior of a garden and tolerates about 20 degrees.  Good for cold coastal areas.  Note that there is a trunk forming variety of this species that has similar cold tolerance.

Dypsis decipiens: 
A fairly new introduction to the palm market, this is a gorgeous palm that is single or multiple trunked, crown shafted, pinnate and tolerates down to about 20 degrees.  Native to Madagascar, this species is slow growing but worth the wait.  Size is up to 30 feet, although this would take many years.

Jubaeopsis caffra: 
A suckering, medium sized, pinnate palm that is expensive and hard to find.  It prefers full sun and is wind tolerant.  Tolerates temperatures to about 22 degrees.  

Livistona australis:
A tall, single trunked fan palm with good sun tolerance and cold tolerance to about 20 degrees.  It is fast growing for a fan palm and very attractive.

Livistona chinensis:
Slower growing than Livistona australis, with larger flatter, less divided leaves and a fatter trunk.  Can tolerate sun filtered light or full sun and temperatures to about 18 to 20 degrees.

Livistona decipiens: 
A fast growing Livistona species that takes about 18 degrees F.  It has wispy and drooping leaflets, gets very tall, is fast growing for a fan.  It prefers full sun.

Livistona species, other; 
There are other species of Livistona that may tolerate down to 23 degrees.

Phoenix canariensis:   
A massively large, single trunked, dark green pinnate palm that needs lots of room, is slow growing, and armed.  Definitely a centerpiece palm.  Very valuable when mature, this palm can be transplanted and can attain heights to over 50 feet.  Tolerates cold to about 18 degrees and needs full sun.  12 to 15 degrees will damage the foliage.

Phoenix reclinata:
A suckering, medium to tall, pinnate and armed palm that makes gorgeous clumps and is a centerpiece palm.  Demands full sun and tolerates temperatures to 18 to 20 degrees or slightly lower.

Phoenix sylvestris: 
Native to the Himilayan Mountains and nearby mountain ranges, this single trunked, large, silver-green pinnate palm prefers full, hot sun and will take temperatures down to about 20 to 22 degrees.  It is very armed and needs room.

Phoenix theophrastii

Phoenix theophrastii:
A suckering, heavily armed and sharply pointed suckering pinnate palm that tolerates more cold than the similar P. reclinata but gets somewhat taller.  Heights to over 30 feet.  Tolerates down to about 16 to 18 degrees and needs hot sun.

Rhapis excelsa: 
Also a great house plant, this small, suckering fan palm tolerates to 20 degrees and prefers filtered light or shade.  Rhapis humilus may be even more cold hardy that R. excelsa.

Sabal minor

Sabal minor:
A single trunked, sun-loving, dwarf fan palm that will tolerate down to 15 degrees and demands full sun or possibly strong filtered light.  It is trunk-less or forms minimal trunk. 

Sabal, other species:
It is possible that certain other Sabal species can tolerate 23 degrees or lower.  This list might include Sabal etonia, Sabal palmetto, and several others.

Queen Palm, Syagarus romanzoffiana

Syagrus romanzoffiana:
The Queen palm can tolerate to about 18 degrees and is solitaire, tall, and has a medium sized trunk.  The leaves are pinnate and plumose (fluffy).  17 degrees or colder will kill this species.  It demands full sun.

Trachycarpus martianus:
A medium sized, single stemmed fan palm with wooly material on the petiole.  Prefers full sun, but can tolerate strong filtered light.  Very attractive.  Tolerates down to about 20 degrees.

Trachycarpus wagnerianus:
A medium sized fan palm with small, stiff leaves.  It prefers full sun and can tolerate wind.  It can withstand temperatures to about 20 degrees and by some reports down to 15 degrees.

Trithrinax campestris:  
A very sought after and hard-to-find suckering, blue fan palm that tolerates hot dry sun and temperatures down to about 18 to 20 degrees.

Washingtonia robusta: 
Similar to W. filifera but thinner trunked and taller.  Prefers full sun and tolerates 18 to 20 degrees F.  Fairly fast growing and commonly available.  12 to 15 degrees will defoliate this species.
Washingtonia filifera is more cold tolerant than W. robusta.






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