Common Names: Texas palm, Texas sabal palm, Mexican palmetto, Rio
Grande palmetto, hat palm, Texas palmetto
Family: Arecacea/Palmae (palm Family)
Palm Attracts Birds Drought Tolerant For Wet, Boggy Areas Has
Ornamental (non-edible) Fruit Has evergreen foliage Has Unusual or
This stately, robust palm grows up to 50 ft (15 m) tall with a
solitary trunk, 8-32 in (20-81 cm) in diameter. The spread of a
mature Texas palm may range from 8 ft (2.4 m) to 25 ft (7.6 m). The
gray trunk has closely-spaced annular rings. Usually part of the
trunk remains covered with old leaf stem "boots", that often split
at their base. These persistent boots form a characteristic
crosshatch pattern on the trunk. The petioles (stems) of the Texas
palm are smooth and completely thornless and may grow up to 15 ft
(4.6 m) in length. Texas palm has 10-25 fan-shaped leaves ranging in
color from deep emerald green, for palms in shade to part shade, and
varying to lighter green in color as leaves receive more sunlight.
Each leave has 80-115 leaflets with threads along the margins of the
leaflets. The leaves of the Texas palm have a prominent and strongly
downward arching costa (leaf midrib) which gives the leaves a folded
three-dimensional effect. Texas palm may flower when very young,
often blooming when the trunk is very small or nonexistent. The
Texas palm produces an inflorescence, branching as long as the
leaves, having small white flowers. Male and female flowers are
produced on the same plant. White flowers produce round-oval fruit
that are black when ripe. The Texas Palm can be separated and
identified from other palmate-leafed palms by its long, smooth, non
thorny petioles (stems) and long, downward arching costa (leaf
The Texas palm is native to the southern part of Texas, the Atlantic
and Pacific coasts of Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
The natural habitat of the Texas palm is the rich soil of coastal
Texas palms tolerate drought and adapt to a wide variety of soils
including those that are neutral, acidic, clayey, wet and slightly
alkaline. Texas palms thrive in a humid atmosphere in rich loamy,
moist and well-drained soils. Texas palms are traditionally slow
growers, however regular fertilization with palm grade fertilizer
promotes maximum growth. A balanced slow release palm fertilizer
with minor elements, e.g., an 18-18-18, may be used during the
growing season. Potassium nutritional deficiencies can develop on
older leaves and may show up as translucent yellow or orange
necrotic spotting. Mineral supplements should be administered in
appropriate recommended amounts to prevent or treat such
deficiencies. Texas palm is resistant to lethal yellowing disease.
Light: Texas palm thrives in partial shade, partial sun or full sun.
Moisture: The Texas palm is drought resistant when established, but
grows faster and looks better when given adequate moisture. Texas
palm tolerates moist, wet locations and occasional flooding.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 11. Mature and established Texas palms can
tolerate occasional temperatures down to 12ºF (-11ºC), with minor or
no leaf damage. More cold hardy data on the Texas palm is expected
as its cultivation becomes more widespread. Some palm enthusiasts
are reporting success with growing Texas palm in USDA Zone 7b.
Propagation: Texas palm may be propagated by seeds. Fresh, ripe
seeds have been reported to have a 60% germination rate after four
weeks of planting. Germination of fresh seed usually takes place in
two weeks to four months at 75ºF (24ºC). Seeds seem to have maximum
viability if germinated within 16 weeks after the fruit matures.
Germinating seeds should be protected because Texas palm seeds are a
particular favorite of many birds and squirrels. Germinating seeds
may form a long single root some time before forming a shoot.
Use the Texas palm for formal groupings, as a lawn tree, in large
scale plantings and as that special accent tree. Texas palm is best
utilized in medium to large yards as the palm may grow 50 ft (15 m)
tall and 25 ft (7.6 m) in diameter. Texas palm may be used in a
variety of locations as it is tolerant of many soils, wind, drought,
A very robust, stately and hardy palm, the Texas palm is now
starting to receive attention from growers and enthusiasts. Once
abundant in Texas, the Texas palm habitat is threatened. The Texas
palm habitat has diminished from approximately 40,000 acres in 1925
to its present Texas natural habitat of 32 acres. Texas palm is
utilized for thatching, making furniture, fans, hat making, and its
rot resistant trunks are used as fence posts and for pilings in
wharfs and piers. The Texas palm fruit is edible and called micharo.
The Texas palm is one of only two palms that are native to Texas,
the other being the much smaller dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor).