Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Ponytail Palm
Give a thumbs up Pony Tail Palm
Give a thumbs up Elephant's Foot
Give a thumbs up Bottle Palm
Give a thumbs up Monja
Give a thumbs up Palma Culona
Give a thumbs up Pata de Elefante

Botanical names:
Beaucarnea recurvata Accepted
Nolina recurvata Synonym

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Tree
Cactus/Succulent
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Dry Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Slightly alkaline (7.4 – 7.8)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 9a -6.7 °C (20 °F) to -3.9 °C (25 °F)
Plant Height: To 30 feet when planted in the ground but about 8 feet when grown as a container/house plant.
Leaves: Evergreen
Other: Recurved and reflexed
Flowers: Showy
Fragrant
Other: Very small
Flower Color: White
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Late spring or early summer
Suitable Locations: Street Tree
Patio/Ornamental/Small Tree
Xeriscapic
Houseplant
Uses: Flowering Tree
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Resistances: Drought tolerant
Propagation: Other methods: Cuttings: Stem
Containers: Suitable in 3 gallon or larger
Needs excellent drainage in pots
Miscellaneous: Tolerates poor soil
Dioecious
Conservation status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Conservation status:
Conservation status: Critically Endangered
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The Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)The Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
By Baja_Costero on August 18, 2020

The ponytail palm is one of the most common succulent trees in cultivation. Its interesting form and ease of care make it an excellent house plant or patio plant, given good drainage and lots of light.

(Full article3 comments)
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Photo gallery:
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By Gina1960
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Location: Cisco, Tx (between Dallas and Abilene)Date: 2016-04-30
By Ivan_N_Tx
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Location: In my garden, Falls Church, VADate: 2017-06-05
By Frenchy21
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By orchidgal
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By gasrocks
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By hlutzow
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Location: In my garden, Falls Church, VADate: 2017-06-05This pot contains 3 plants
By Frenchy21
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By Hamwild
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Date: 2012-12-28
By Paul2032
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Location: HoustonDate: 2013-02-25
By jmorth
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Date: 2014-02-09
By Paul2032
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Location: At a plant store, Rio de Janeiro, BrazilDate: 2015-02-07
By bonitin
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By piksihk
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Date: 2018-04-22
By Hamwild
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Date: 2018-04-22
By Hamwild
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Location: At home - Tracy, CADate: 2011-05-15Grown indoors south facing window
By tarev
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Location: Indoors - Central Valley area, CADate: 2012-04-11Ponytail palm with deeper green colored leaves
By tarev
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Location: In our garden - Central Valley area, CADate: 2012-03-06Ponytail palm during a very windy Spring day
By tarev
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Location: Indoors - Central Valley area, CADate: 2012-04-09New leaves sprouting from the Ponytail palm
By tarev
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Location: HoustonDate: 2013-02-25
By jmorth
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Location: At a plant store, Rio de Janeiro, BrazilDate: 2015-02-07
By bonitin
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Location: At a plant store, Rio de Janeiro, BrazilDate: 2015-02-07
By bonitin
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Location: At a plant store, Rio de Janeiro, BrazilDate: 2015-02-07
By bonitin
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Location: Odessa, FLDate: 2010-05-19
By hawkarica
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Location: Ghent University Botanical Garden, BelgiumDate: 2015-09-02
By bonitin
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Location: 98108Date: 2012-12-13it was cut down awhile back
By a2b1c3
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By Flea
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Comments:
Posted by plantladylin (Sebastian, Florida - Zone 10a) on Oct 8, 2011 9:00 AM

Native to Eastern Mexico, the Pony Tail Palm is not a true palm but more closely related to Yucca. It is a slow growing palm-like succulent that can attain heights to 30 feet when grown outdoors in temperate climates, and it can reach heights of 6 to 8 feet when container grown as a houseplant. The Pony Tail Palm has a single trunk with a swollen caudex that stores water for use during drought conditions. The long straplike arching and drooping leaves give this plant the appearance of a palm tree. Mature plants produce racemes of pretty cream to whitish blooms that seem to shoot out from the top of the foliage. This plant prefers a sandy well draining soil, is extremely drought tolerant and does well in rock gardens.

The Pony Tail palm is an easy houseplant as long as it's given a lot of sun and isn't over-watered.

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Posted by lauriebasler (Western Washington - Zone 7b) on Dec 2, 2016 6:07 AM

I have several Pony Tails, and after separating 3 in a pot, I found that one seemingly healthy plant got the droopy leaves some of these plants have. I prefer the ones that curl out roundly; they look healthier.. After being diligent at giving it the same conditions as the ones that were not drooping, for many months, with no change, I decided to cut my losses on it, and experiment. I took a rubber band, and pulled the leaves up like a pony tail, securing it loosely, and it did look strange. Then I let the plant get much drier than the others, for a month or so. To my surprise, it worked. The plants leaves are as bouncy and graceful as the others now. I am careful to let it get quite dry between waterings. Hope it works for others.

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Posted by Baja_Costero (Baja California - Zone 11b) on Aug 8, 2020 6:04 PM

This succulent tree from the tropical deciduous forests of eastern Mexico has a wide, enlarged base, recurved and reflexed leaves, and tiny unisexual flowers. It may reach up to 15-50 feet tall; the base may be 6 feet or more wide in old age. It is not any kind of palm, despite the English common name, being more closely related to yuccas and agaves. It is called "pata de elefante" (among other names) in Mexico.

It is propagated from seed (which requires separate male and female individuals in flower to produce) or rooted cuttings. Plants started from cuttings will not tend to develop the same extra-wide, bottom-heavy proportions, and are generally less desirable. They are often beheaded at a relatively young age to take another cutting and start a new plant, thereby forcing branching near the base. Here's an example of the way the plant responds to the loss of its growth point. Otherwise branching is typically associated with flowering, which occurs relatively late in life. Since flowers are terminal (the growth center turns into an inflorescence) the only way a stem can continue growing after flowering is to branch at the base of the inflorescence, though perhaps not more than once.

B. recurvata is usually a container plant in cultivation. It is very well behaved (though somewhat limited) in containers, and may flower in them. Provide excellent drainage, strong light, and regular water when the soil is dry at depth. Barring desert heat, it's impossible to provide too much sun.

This is by far the most common Beaucarnea in cultivation (at least 10 times more common than the runner up). A couple of other species in the genus (B. guatemalensis, B. pliabilis) may be confused with it, but can be distinguished based on leaf differences. Another species with a wide, nearly globose base is B. gracilis. Variegated forms of B. recurvata exist, though they are uncommon, and they are typically propagated from rooted cuttings.

B. recurvata is grown in the ground in parts of California and Florida. The Florida plants tend to look dramatically better during the summer because they (unlike the California plants) receive summer water in the form of rain. While this tree tolerates extreme drought, it does a lot better (and looks a lot nicer) when it gets regular water. Likewise, it tolerates extremely confined spaces but will grow considerably faster when allowed some room below ground.

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Posted by SongofJoy (Clarksville, TN - Zone 6b) on Sep 21, 2011 9:56 AM

Best as a house plant in most zones. Bright light. Water every 7-14 days during the growing season. During the winter, cut back watering to monthly. Prefers temperatures above 60º and dry indoor conditions. Use rich, organic, fast-draining potting soil.

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Posted by Dutchlady1 on Oct 31, 2011 7:02 PM

A super versatile plant, this will do well in a tiny pot as a bonsai, and as a great big tree in a tropical setting. When in bloom, this tree can resemble something only Dr. Seuss could have dreamed up.
It is slow growing, and large specimen trees are prized and hard to come by.
I have not found any disadvantages with this tree. I have 5 or 6 growing in my yard. It seems to shrug off cold, wet, and drought. A winner!

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Plant Events from our members
Blondmyk On October 8, 2014 Transplanted
6-1-15--all plants still alive, but only about half seem to be thriving. Only plants with more than one plant in the pot seem to be doing exceptionally well and showing growth. Plants have a difficulty with staying rooted, which I find interesting. I know you don't want to get the foot underground, but the roots that grow from under the foot just don't want to stay in the soil! Ugh.
smiley On June 11, 2016 Obtained plant
lemonFresh On July 31, 2018 Obtained plant
hlutzow On February 5, 2020 Obtained plant
» Post your own event for this plant

Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Age? by plantmanager May 27, 2016 12:37 PM 5
Damaged Caudex on Ponytail Palm by Cdy Aug 23, 2020 8:02 AM 5
Pony tail palm by Mardel Aug 22, 2020 1:38 PM 8
Pony tail palm tree by Sheshines Aug 8, 2020 3:25 PM 8
RE: Surviving without water? by margewang Jun 25, 2020 9:27 AM 7
Ponytail Palm. Questions and concerns by zhengcl86 Jun 16, 2020 10:49 AM 11
Hello from Willinator, What are these? by Willinator May 25, 2020 9:23 PM 6
Hello from Willinator, What are these? by Willinator May 24, 2020 3:00 PM 7
Beaucarnea recurvata or ponytail plant with some tiny ants by Beatri May 3, 2020 9:57 AM 6
Help with propeller plant by letsgetelectric Apr 25, 2020 10:45 AM 12
Bonsai or Not a Bonsai? by Kathy21053 Apr 17, 2020 12:33 PM 12

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