How To Grow Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)

Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix). Photo by Wiki Commons.

The Needle Palm Tree, scientific name Rhapidophyllum hystrix or Rhapidophylum hystrix, is one of the most cold hardiest palm trees that can tolerate cold down to 10F and even known to withstand -5F. It is a great palm for landscape in USDA zones 8a-11.

This palm can be grown in states like Alaska, Alabama, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee and more.

Quick Facts:

Scientific name:Rhapidophyllum hystrix or Rhapidophylum hystrix
Common names:Needle Palm, Porcupine Palm.
Origin:Native to the southeastern United States.
Growth Rate:Slow. Up to 5-10 ft tall and 1-5ft wide.
Cold Tolerance:USDA Zones 8a (10 to 15 F) to 10b (above 35 F).
Light Req:Partial shade to Full sun.
Water Req:Low.
Soil Req:Widely adaptable.
Fruit:Yes. Purple-brown, wooly.
Propagation:By seed, germinating in 6 months. Division.

Needle Palm  Identifying Characteristics

It doesn’t form a trunk, instead has stems growing very tightly together from a single base. Stems are slender, about 6-7 inches in diameter.

Leaves are palmate, or fan-shaped, deep green color, about 2ft long and 4ft wide. About 10-13 leaves grow on smooth petioles 2-3ft long, covered with fiber and numerous sharp needle-like spines produced between the leaves. Fiber husk protects the palm from cold winter weather conditions.

Spines grow to about 3-4 inches long, very slender, range in color from dark brown to black. They protect the stem growing point from browsing animals. Each leaf has about 10-16 leaflets 18 inches long and 2 inches wide, with square tips.

Needle Palm Flowers and Fruits

In spring or early summer, the Needle Palm produces small yellow to brownish flowers that grow in clusters at the top of the short inflorescence. The Needle Palm is dioecious, male and female flowers are born on separate plants.

Flowers are followed by fleshy drupes. Fruits are oblong, fuzzy, reddish brown, about 1 inch in diameter. They grow close to the petiole surrounded by fiber and sharp needles.

How To Care For Needle Palm

Rhapidophyllum hystrix is a small shrubby fan palm that can grows up to 5-10 ft tall and 1-5ft wide. Needle Palm is extremely hardy and can tolerate cold down to 10F. It is great for growing in USDA Zones 8a (10 to 15 F) to 10b (above 35 F).

It grows best in partial shade or full sun. The Needle Palm needs moderate watering but is very tough in a drought conditions after establishing.

To prevent nutritional deficiency, apply good quality palm fertilizer that has continuous release formula twice a year during growing season.

Propagated by seeds.

Needle Palm Tree Pictures

Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix). Photo by Wiki Commons.
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix). Photo by Wiki Commons.
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix). Photo by Wiki Commons.
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix). Photo by Wiki Commons.
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix). Photo by Wiki Commons.
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix). Photo by Flickr.
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix). Photo by Flickr.
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix). Photo by Flickr.
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix). Photo by Flickr.
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix). Photo by Flickr.
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix). Photo by Flickr.
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix). Photo by Flickr.
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)
Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix). Photo by Flickr.

More information can be found on Floridata sites.

1 thought on “How To Grow Needle Palm Tree (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)”

  1. I have some pics of a Palm growing in my front yard in San Antonio TX. We think this started from seeds in a box of mixed seeds strewn in the yard a few years ago. I think this is a Needle Palm but am not certain of the specific type of palm it is. Could I poossibly send you some pics for identification purposes? Would appreciate any help you can provide.

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