Plant Profile: Brahea armata - The Mexican Blue Palm

One glance at the leaf of a Brahea armata is enough to tell you why it's 
called a 'Blue' palm. The actual colour can vary between deep blue,
steely-grey and light green according to the light it's viewed in.

Origin: Mexico

Height: 12 metres.

Requirements: Full sun. Excellent drainage.

Common names: Mexican Blue Palm; Blue Hesper Palm.

This is a beautiful, cold-tolerant palm with unusual blue-green fan-shaped leaves. Rather slow growing, this palm can take quite heavy frosts when mature. However, we recommend that it be given some protection when young. It doesn't care for too much winter wet and so it should ideally be grown in a spot sheltered from rain. When planting it, take care to ensure that the soil is freely drained. You may want to raise the level of the planting area above the level of the garden by mounding soil slightly. If you have heavy clay soil, you should dig in large quantities of organic material such as well-rotted farmyard manure, coir or peat mixed in with some sharp sand or grit. Brahea armata likes quite alkaline conditions and may grow faster if lime is added to the soil. 

The blue leaves of Brahea armata make it stand out 
from most other plants in the conservatory or garden.
This is a dramatic architectural plant that also makes a
splendid specimen in a tub on the patio.

Brahea armata has one of the bluest colours of any palm. This is due to a shiny, waxy covering to the leaves. It can tolerate freezes down to about -10C (possible lower for short spells) as long as it is kept in very well-drained soil. Waterlogged soil will bring it to an early grave - so be warned!

While Brahea armata is the best known member of this genus, there are actually several other highly decorative and quite hardy Braheas. For example, Brahea edulis, the Guadalupe Palm, can also tolerate several degrees of frost if grown in a well-drained, sunny spot in a mild area. This species eventually grows into a tall and striking palm with a robust trunk and deep green leaves. 

Note: Brahea palms are sometimes listed under the older genus name, Erythea. The name 'Brahea' refers to the 16th Century Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe.

A beam of sunshine picks out the subtle greeny-blue 
shades of some Brahea armata palms at our nursery.

Information and photos on this page are
courtesy and copyright Huw Collingbourne
Rosedown Mill Palms & Exotics

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