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Products > Beaucarnea recurvata
Beaucarnea recurvata - Bottle Palm

Note: This plant is not currently for sale. This is an archive page preserved for informational use.  
Image of Beaucarnea recurvata
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Nolinoidae (Asparagaceae)
Origin: Mexico (North America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Creamy White
Bloomtime: Infrequent
Synonyms: [Nolina recurvata]
Height: 15-20 feet
Width: 6-12 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30° F
Beaucarnea recurvata (Bottle Palm) - Often seen as a houseplant but reaching up to 20 to 30 feet tall when outdoors. The base of the trunk is swollen with erect stems holding 2 to 3 foot long narrow green leaves in tight rosette clumps at the ends of the branches. These leaves are at first erect but bend over uniformly with their tips trailing downward. It flowers occasionally once plants are mature and then in late spring or summer with the small cream-colored flowers held in a 2 foot tall pyramidal-shaped inflorescence at the branch tips and these are sometimes followed by reddish winged fruit on female plants.

Plant in full sun outdoors and in good bright light indoors and water deeply but infrequently. This is likely the hardiest of the species. It has tolerated without damage short duration temperatures below 20° F such as were experienced during the Christmas 1990 freeze in Santa Barbara but longer duration low temperature can kill off stems, permanently disfiguring the plant.

Beaucarnea recurvata grows naturally in dry areas of the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas and Veracruz. The name for the genus honors Jean-Baptiste Beaucarne, a 19th century Belgian plant collector and horticulturist who first collected a flowering specimen of this plant. The French botanist Charles Antoine Lemaire came up with this name when he described Beaucarnea gracilis in L'illustration horticole in 1861 from plants already in cultivation that had been called Pincenectitia (also Pincecnitia. Pincinectia and Pincenectiua). The specific epithet references the way the leaves of thus species recurve back towards the ground. Some have combined Beaucarnea into the related genus, Nolina, but we follow the treatment noted by Colin Walker in Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Monocotyledons (edited by Urs Eggli, Springer, 2001) He notes that "Rowley considered Beaucarnea and Calibanus to be synonymous with Nolina. However the cpDNA data strongly indicates that Beaucarnea and Calibanus are closely related but distinct from Nolina. .. Nolina, with 3-locular ovaries, is considered basal to the other genera. Like Dasylirion, Beaucarnea has 3-winged 1 locular nutlets."

We have grown and sold this this plant on and off since we first established the nursery in 1979 and have a nice large specimen in front of our accounting office. The plant pictured on this page is in front of a home on Nueces Road in Noleta (the nonincorporated area in the eastern Goleta Valley near our nursery) that was moved to this location in 1985 by the homeowner Jim Prine, a landscaper and world renowned animal trainer. 

This information about Beaucarnea recurvata displayed on this web page is based on research we have conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations we have made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens visited, as well how our crops have performed in containers in the nursery field. Where appropriate, we will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share cultural information that would aid others in growing this plant.