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Brahea armata

Brahea armata, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Monocots
Cladus: Commelinids
Ordo: Arecales

Familia: Arecaceae
Subfamilia: Coryphoideae
Tribus: Trachycarpeae
Subtribus: Unplaced Trachycarpeae
Genus: Brahea
Species: Brahea armata

Brahea armata S.Watson, 1876

Erythea armata (S.Watson) S.Watson, Bot. California 2: 212 (1880).
Glaucothea armata (S.Watson) O.F.Cook, J. Washington Acad. Sci. 5: 239 (1915).
Brahea lucida Schaedtler, Hamburger Garten- Blumenzeitung 31: 69 (1875).
Brahea roezlii D'Ancona, Bull. Reale Soc. Tosc. Ortic. 8: 79 (1883).
Brahea glauca Hook.f., Kew Gard. Rep. 1882: 64 (1884).
Brahea nobilis Hook.f., Kew Gard. Rep. 1882: 64 (1884).
Erythea armata var. microcarpa Becc., Webbia 2: 136 (1907).
Erythea elegans Franceschi ex Becc., Webbia 2: 138 (1908).
Glaucothea elegans (Franceschi ex Becc.) I.M.Johnst., Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci., ser. 4, 12: 993 (1924).
Erythea roezlii (D'Ancona) Becc. ex Martelli, Ann. Roy. Bot. Gard. (Calcutta) 13: 320 (1931).
Erythea clara L.H.Bailey, Gentes Herbarum 6: 197 (1943).
Brahea elegans (Franceschi ex Becc.) H.E.Moore, Baileya 19: 168 (1975).
Brahea clara (L.H.Bailey) Espejo & López-Ferr., Sida 15: 617 (1993).

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Northern America
Regional: Mexico
Mexico Northwest

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition

Watson, S., 1876. Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Boston, MA 11:146.
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Brahea armata in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Accessed: 08-Apr-12.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2018. Brahea armata in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2018 Dec. 25. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2018. Brahea armata. Published online. Accessed: Dec. 25 2018.
The Plant List 2013. Brahea armata in The Plant List Version 1.1. Published online. Accessed: 2018 Dec. 25. 2018. Brahea armata. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published online. Accessed: 25 Dec. 2018.

Vernacular names
español: Palma blanca
français: Palmier bleu du Mexique

Brahea armata, commonly known as Mexican blue palm or blue hesper palm, is a large evergreen tree of the palm family Arecaceae, endemic to Baja California, Mexico. It is widely planted as an ornamental.


It grows to a height of 15 metres (49 ft),[4] with a stout trunk. Its distinctly bluish leaves are 1–2 metres (3 ft 3 in – 6 ft 7 in) wide, with 1-metre (3 ft 3 in) long petioles. The leaves are persistent in nature, forming a shag around the trunk; in cultivation they are typically burned or cut off. The inflorescences extend out beyond the crown, reaching 5 metres (16 ft) in length. The flowers themselves are small, appearing in February and March, while the fruits are 18–24 millimetres (0.71–0.94 in) in length, brown and with a generally ovoid to globose shape.
Distribution and habitat
In habitat, Baja California, Mexico
Plants growing in habitat

This species is endemic to the Mexican state of Baja California, distributed from just south of the international border near the Jacumba Mountains to the Central Desert and Isla Angel de la Guarda. Plants growing in the Sierra de San Francisco in Baja California Sur may be of a different species.[5] It is locally common in arroyos and canyon bottoms, and has been observed growing in rock crevices at higher elevations. It is sometimes found with Washingtonia filifera or Washingtonia robusta.

Brahea armata has an attractive appearance, especially when young, and is commonly available at nurseries in the American southwest and in warm temperate locations elsewhere. In the UK it has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.[6] It is drought tolerant (although occasional deep irrigation is recommended), can handle both partial shade and full sun, and temperatures down to −10 °C (14 °F). It is found under a variety of names, including "Mexican blue palm", "blue hesper palm", "big blue hesper palm", "blue fan palm", "sweet brahea", and "palma blanca".

The Cocopah people ate the seeds after roasting them.

Cultivated plants

Mature pair of Brahea armata, Phoenix AZ

Brahea armata setting seed

Group planting of Brahea armata, Phoenix, AZ

Juvenile pair of Brahea armata


H.E. Moore Baileya 19(4): 168 1975
Becc. Webbia 2: 138–140 1907
I.M. Johnst. Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci., ser. 4, 12: 993 1924
"Blaue Hesperidenpalme (Brahea Armata)" (in German). 28 October 2020.
Rebman, J. P.; Gibson, J.; Rich, K. (2016). "Annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Baja California, Mexico" (PDF). San Diego Society of Natural History. 45: 274.

"RHS Plantfinder - Brahea armata". Retrieved 12 January 2018.

Further reading

Raymond M. Turner, Janice E. Bowers, and Tony L. Burgess, Sonoran Desert Plants: an Ecological Atlas (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1995) pp. 115–116

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