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What is a Bismarck Palm?

By Amy Hunter
Updated May 16, 2024
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The Bismarck palm, or Bismarkia noblis, is an impressive palm tree that originated in Madagascar. It has a substantial trunk topped with silver-blue fronds. The palm matures between 20 and 40 feet (6 to 12 meters) with the fronds spreading over 15 feet (4.6 meters). The Bismarck palm flowers are fragrant and pale yellow, and it develops inedible fruit that are between one and two inches(2.54 to 5.08 centimeters) long. Some people make small vases out of the nuts of the palm tree.

The Bismarck palm is a type of fan palm. A mature palm will have between 20 and 30 fronds, each approximately 10 feet(3 meters) long. This is an impressive tree that requires a large yard. The Bismarck palm is considered a specimen planting. It typically looks best when it is planted as a centerpiece in the landscape.

The Bismarck palm grows best in full-sun, however it can tolerate light shade. Water two to three times each week to encourage rapid, healthy growth. Once established, the palm tree is tolerant of droughts. Regular feedings with fertilizer made specifically for palm trees is beneficial as well. The palm tolerates many different types of soil.

The Bismarck palm is a sub-tropical species, hardy to zone 10 on the United States Department of Agriculture's zone hardiness chart. Once well established, the plant is more tolerant to cold, and can recover from frost damage. The first several years after the palm is transplanted however, it is important to protect it from temperatures lower than 26 degrees Fahrenheit(3.3 degrees Celsius).

The Bismarck palm is easy to maintain once it is established. It does not attract pests and is tolerant of a wide range of soil, sun amounts, and temperatures. It may experience damage from cold weather, but this only affects the leaves, and a mature Bismarck palm will recover.

The palm is sensitive for the first several years after planting, and once planted, should not be moved. These palms have a deep taproot, which makes transplantation difficult. A taproot is a long, sturdy root that extends straight into the ground. Smaller roots branch off of the main taproot. Any attempt to transplant the palm once it is planted in the ground will likely lead to death. The damage may not show up for weeks or even longer, but disturbing the taproot will eventually lead to frond death and the loss of the tree.

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