Rhapidophyllum hystrix

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Needle Palm

Arecaceae (Palmae)

Plant Specifics

Size:6 ft tall by 6 ft wide
Life Span:Long-lived perennial
Flower Color:White
Fruit Color:NA
Phenology:Evergreen. Flowers in spring (inconspicuous). Fruits ripen in fall. Slow growing. Life span likely 50+ years (Nelson 2003).
Noted for:Interesting foliage, Thorns


Recommended Uses:Specimen plant, edge, understory shrub. Can be grown in a large container.
Considerations:Old leaf bases form long stiff spines.
Propagation:Seed or by division of clumps. It takes determination to dig and divide a large needle palm, but it is relatively easy to transplant the suckers. Seeds germinate in about 6 to 12 months
Availability:Native nurseries
Light: Part Shade,  Shade
Moisture Tolerance:
always floodedextremely dry
 (Usually moist, occasional inundation ----- to ----- Not wet but not extremely dry)
Moisture Tolerance: Usually moist, occasional inundation ----- to ----- Not wet but not extremely dry
Salt Water Flooding Tolerance:Not salt tolerant of inundation by salty or brackish water.
Salt Spray/ Salty Soil Tolerance:Low/no tolerance of salty wind or direct salt spray
Soil or other substrate:Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH:Acidic



Provides good wildlife cover.


Attracts beetles.

Native Habitats:Moist-wet sites. Seep slope forests, regularly but shallowly inundated floodplains, seepage swamps especially associated with springs, hydric seepage slopes, and at times, some of the adjacent non-hydric slope, hydric hammock, moist upland bluffs adjacent to rivers.

Distribution and Planting Zones

Natural Range in Florida
USDA Zones

Suitable to grow in:
10A 8A 8B 9A 9B 

USDA zones are based on minimum winter temperatures