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​​​​​​​​​Needle Palm

Rhapidophyllum hustrix

  • Common Names:  Needle palm, porcupine palm, creeping palmetto, spine palm, hedgehog palm
  • Scientific Name: Rhapidophyllum hustrix
  • Family Name: Arecaceae
  • Origin: Southeastern US
  • Height: 6-8’
  • Width: 5-10’
  • Growth: Grows in a palm clump. Slow, Fast
  • Zone: 7A-10b.
  • Light Needs: Shade to partial sun
  • Salt Tolerance: Low to none.
  • Soil/Ph/Texture: Widely adaptable. Slightly acid to slightly alkaline. Sandy loam.
  • Soil Moisture and Drought Tolerance:  Moderate drought tolerant, but prefers fairly moist soils.
  • Nutritional Requirements: Moderate.
  • Pests/Diseases: None reported
  • Growing Conditions: Needle palm is a slow-growing, shrubby palm that will eventually grow into a clump that is eight feet tall and eight feet wide. The palm is especially prized among cold-climate gardeners who want a tropical look, since it can tolerate temperatures several degrees below 0°F. Unprotected specimens are known to grow as far north as Washington D.C. and New York City.
  • Characteristics: A small shrubby fan palm with 6-18 leaves, clustering, essentially trunkless.  The trunk is covered with needle-like fibers from decayed leaf bases. Foliage is dark green above, silvery below.  There is no crownshaft.  Separate male and female plants.  Flowers are yellow and purple, with a 1” fruit.
  • Propagation: Seed, germinating in 6 months or more; division
  • Human Hazards: Spiny
  • Wildlife: Attracts birds
  • Facts: Used more to the north of Palm Beach county. It is exceptionally cold-tolerant.
  • Designer Considerations: It is used as a shrub, usually found in the understory of rich, hardwood forests.  However, it can be adapted to full sun and makes an interesting specimen plant for accent. Mass plantings of needle palm can also serve as security hedges. Needle palm can also be used near swimming pools because of its ability to endure continual splashes of chlorinated water. It should not be planted close to walkways where passersby may be pricked by its “needles.”

Needle Palm, Porcupine Palm