Brahea edulis (Guadalupe Palm) – A beautiful and sturdy slow growing long lived fan palm with a thick trunk that grows to 30+ feet tall holding blue-green wide leaves that are called costapalmate because they are palmate and the smooth petiole runs into the leaf beyond the attachment point. This palm is considered to be self-cleaning, which means that when the leaves die, they drop of and leave decorative scar rings on the clean trunk. In summer appear the fragrant cream yellow flowers and later dark fruits that are edible fresh or used in preserves.
Plant in full to part sun in a well-drained soil where it requires little or no irrigation in coastal gardens but grows faster if given more regular water. Hardy to short duration temperatures down just below 20° F. Plants we not killed here in the Goleta Valley in the Christmas 1990 freeze when temperatures dipped to below 20° F but were severely damaged at University of Arizona when temperatures dropped to 15° F. This is a very attractive palm that along with its sturdy thick trunk and bluish-green fan leaves has fruit with sweet pulp that is good to eat and attracts birds.
Brahea edulis grows naturally towards the north end of Guadalupe Island in the fog belt between 1,300 and 3,300 feet in elevation. Rainfall is extremely low on this island that is 130 miles off the west coast of Baja California but these plant growing in what is called a fog oasis thrived in this location until goats were introduced to the island in the early 1800s. More recently the goats have been removed and this plant and other endemic plants are beginning to rebound.
The name for the genus honors Tycho Brahe, a 16th-17th century Danish astronomer. A previous name for the genus was Erythea named for was one of Hesperides, who in Greek mythology were the nymphs who tended the garden in a far western corner of the world (then thought to be located near the Atlas mountains in Libya). These nymphs were sometimes called the Western Maidens, the Daughters of Evening, or the Sunset Goddesses. When Sereno Watson named the genus Erythea in 1880 he did so because of the palm's distribution on the west coast of Mexico.
We grew this palm since the early days of the nursery but sold the last one we had in 2006. From Guadalupe island we also grow Senecio palmeri 'Silver and Gold' and Cupressus guadalupensis 'Greenlee's Blue Rocket'.
Information about Brahea edulis displayed on this page is based on our research about it conducted in our library and gathered from reliable online sources. We include observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well as how the crops have performed in containers in our own nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others about this plant when we feel it adds information and particularly welcome hearing from anyone who has any additional cultural recommendations that would aid others in growing it.