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
Awards and Recognitions: RHS AGM
Conservation status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Conservation status:
Conservation status: Critically Endangered
Image
Common names
  • Ponytail Palm
  • Pony Tail Palm
  • Elephant's Foot
  • Bottle Palm
  • Monja
  • Palma Culona
  • Pata de Elefante
Botanical names
  • Accepted: Beaucarnea recurvata
  • Synonym: Nolina recurvata

Photo Gallery
Photo by Gina1960
Location: Opp, AL  Z8b
Date: 2021-09-01
Location: Vero Beach,  Florida
Date: 2022-02-27
Location: Southwest Florida
Date: May 2013
The most impressive flowering of this tree I have ever seen.
Location: Baja California
Date: 2022-12-31
7 heads are better than 1
Location: San Marino
Date: 2014-06-06
Huntington Gardens.  Said to be about 100 years old (planted befo
Location: Denver, Colorado Zone 5b
Date: 2023-08-08
Photo by SarasotaPatty
Photo by Corber
Location: Baja California
Date: 2017-04-13
50 gallon barrel
Location: Southwest Florida
Date: spring 2011
Last year after our unusually cold winter all the Beaucarneas see
Location: Cisco, Tx (between Dallas and Abilene)
Date: 2016-04-30
Location: Opp, AL  Z8b
Date: 2023-11-18
Photo by hlutzow
Location: Odem, tx
Date: 2016-05-26
Location: Baja California
Date: 2022-09-27
Basal branching after flowering
Location: Opp, AL  Z8b
Date: 2021-03-27
Location: In my garden, Falls Church, VA
Date: 2017-06-05
Location: Baja California
Date: 2021-08-05
Location: The Natural State (Arkansas)
Date: 2021-10-10
Location: Opp, AL  Z8b
Date: 2022-09-23
Photo by orchidgal
Location: Baja California
Date: 2016-03-23
Needs a new pot
Location: San Antonio Botanical Garden, San Antonio, Texas
Date: 2022-04-04
OMG!!!! SO BIG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Location: Baja California
Date: 2022-06-07
Internodes about the height of the leaf base (grown hard)
Location: Baja California
Date: 2017-02-03
Location: In my garden, Falls Church, VA
Date: 2017-06-05
This pot contains 3 plants
Location: Port Orange, Florida
Date: 2018-07-03
Location: Baja California
Date: 2022-06-09

Date: 2019-04-20
Dry stalk
Location: Lyman Plant House, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts
Location: Baja California
Date: 2017-07-14
Branching after flowering (left)
Location: Daytona Beach, Florida
Date: 2017-11-16

Date: 2016-09-20
Location: Daytona Beach, Florida
Date: 2017-11-16
Location: Southeast Florida
Date: October 1, 2011
Tallest example I have found of this beautiful tree.
Location: Southwest Florida
Date: May 2014
the blooms are covered in bees.
Location: Baja California
Date: 2022-07-18
Photo by gasrocks
Location: Opp, AL  Z8b
Date: 2022-06-05
Location: Sebastian,  Florida
Date: 2023-07-02
Neglected tree
Location: Marimurta Botanical Garden
Date: 2019-04-22
Plant is tagged.
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Date: 2017-04-03
Photo by Hamwild

Date: 2018-04-22
Location: Madrid, Spain | April, 2023 
Date: 2023-04-02
Location: Baja California
Date: 2016-12-04
Location: Botanical garden of Madeira
Date: 2023-04-11
Location: all photos from my gardens
Date: 2021-09-05
Location: Southwest Florida
Date: May 2014

Date: 2012-12-28
Location: Southwest Florida
Date: May 2014
Location: At a plant store, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date: 2015-02-07
Location: At a plant store, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date: 2015-02-07
Location: At a plant store, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date: 2015-02-07
Location: Opp, AL  Z8b
Date: 2018-08-11
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Date: 2017-04-03
Location: Port Orange, Florida
Date: 2018-05-05
Emerging growth at top of cane that was broken off during a storm
Location: Houston
Date: 2013-02-25
Location: Cypress Gardens, Florida

Date: 2011-09-30

Date: 2018-04-22

Date: 2014-02-09

Had this one for about 8 years in a pot before a heavy frost dama
Photo by piksihk
Location: Baja California
Date: 2017-04-13
Location: Botanical garden of Madeira
Location: St. Augustine, FL.
Date: 2016-05-11
Location: Kalama, wa
  • Uploaded by Joy
Location: Sebastian, Florida
Date: 2017-01-19
Location: Ingleside. Illinois
Date: 2021-02-26
Seeds.
Location: Ingleside. Illinois
Date: 2021-03-12
Seedling.
Location: Opp, AL
Date: 2015-08-04
Photo by sedumzz
Location: At a plant store, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date: 2015-02-07
Location: Hampton, VA | June, 2022
Date: 2022-06-15
Location: Indoors - Central Valley area, CA
Date: 2012-04-11
Ponytail palm with deeper green colored leaves
Location: In our garden - Central Valley area, CA
Date: 2012-03-06
Ponytail palm during a very windy Spring day
Location: Indoors - Central Valley area, CA
Date: 2012-04-09
New leaves sprouting from the Ponytail palm
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Date: 2017-04-03
Location: The Natural State (Arkansas)
Date: 2021-10-13
Location: NYBG 
Date: June 14 22
Location: NE., Fl.
Date: 2013-11-18

Date: 2013-06-29
Location: At home - Tracy, CA
Date: 2011-05-15
Grown indoors south facing window
Location: St. James, Florida
Photo by Baja_Costero
Photo by DebbieC

Date: 2016-01-26
Location: Odessa, FL
Date: 2010-05-19
Location: Cypress Gardens, Florida
Location: Opp, AL  Z8b
Date: 2021-09-25
Photo by sedumzz

Date: 2014-06-13
Location: Daytona Beach, Florida
Date: 2013-01-04

Date: 2012-12-17
Location: My house
Date: 2014-07-13
Location: Southwest Florida
Date: March 2015
The trunk of a very old specimen
Location: At a plant store, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date: 2015-02-07
Location: Southwest Florida
Date: July 2012
Large specimen plant in bloom.
Location: Botanical garden UG, Gent, Belgium
Date: 2015-09-06
Location: Home
Date: 7/29/2011
Location: Ghent University Botanical Garden, Belgium
Date: 2015-09-02
Location: Daytona Beach, Florida
Date: 2013-01-09 
Juvenile form
Location: My house
Date: 2014-08-04
Location: 98108
Date: 2012-12-13
it was cut down awhile back
Photo by Flea
Location: Daytona Beach, Florida
Date: 2014-11-01
Location: Southwest Florida
Date: May 2014
Location: home
Date: 2014-03-02

Date: 2013-02-23
Location: Houston
Date: 2013-02-25

photo credit: H. Zell

Date: 2013-02-12

Date: 2013-02-12

Date: 2012-12-29

Date: 2012-12-29

Date: 2012-12-29

Date: 2009-09-06

Date: 2007-09-18
Location: Odessa, FL
Date: 2014-09-01

Date: 2014-02-09
Location: Sebastian, Florida
Date: 2017-05-01
Location: Corpus Christi, TX
Date: 2015-08-29
Location: Corpus Christi, TX
Date: 2016-04-27
Location: Tampa Bay Area
Date: June 2018

Date: March 12, 2013
Location: Daytona Beach, Florida
Date: 2013-01-29
Location: Cambridge University Botanic Garden
Date: July
credit: Magnus Manske
This plant is tagged in:
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Comments:
  • Posted by plantladylin (Sebastian, Florida - Zone 10a) on Oct 8, 2011 9:00 AM concerning plant:
    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.
  • Posted by Baja_Costero (Baja California - Zone 11b) on Aug 8, 2020 6:04 PM concerning plant:
    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.
  • Posted by lauriebasler (Western Washington - Zone 7b) on Dec 2, 2016 6:07 AM concerning plant:
    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.
  • Posted by SongofJoy (Clarksville, TN - Zone 6b) on Sep 21, 2011 9:56 AM concerning plant:
    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.
  • Posted by Dutchlady1 on Oct 31, 2011 7:02 PM concerning plant:
    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!
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
Macrocentra On January 23, 2021 Maintenance performed
Pruned dried leaves from both plants.
antsinmypants On May 7, 2021 Plant Ended (Removed, Died, Discarded, etc)
Did not emerge after germination.
antsinmypants On March 11, 2021 Seeds germinated
antsinmypants On February 26, 2021 Seeds sown
Sowed 20 seeds in soil under lights.
MySecretIslandGarden On July 30, 2022 Bloomed
Started blooming in June and still blooming.
» 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

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