Rhapidophyllum hystrix

('Needle', Palm)


Hardiness Zones:

 10a  10b  6b  7a  7b  8a  8b  9a  9b

Quick Overview:

Needle palm is a shrubby, clumping, nearly trunkless, fan palm that grows to 3-6? tall and as wide. It is native to moist to wet woodlands, slopes, ravines and stream bottomland in the southeastern U. S. (South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi). It is one of the hardiest if not the hardiest of the palms. It is noted for its large, palmate, glossy green leaves that grow on long upright petioles (to 30? long). Each deeply divided leaf (almost to the base) is fan-shaped (to 30 inches across) with 5-12 narrow segments (each to 20? long). Leaves are evergreen. Genus name is from Greek meaning sharp (rhapis) and leaf (phylum). The specific epithet (from Greek meaning porcupine) and the common name of needle palm are both in reference to the long, stiff, sharply-pointed, needle-like, black spines (to 6? long) that project from the leaf sheaths. Spines make the clumps impenetrable to most wildlife. Three-petaled, yellow-brown flowers in small dense clusters bloom in early summer among the leaf sheaths. Flowers are usually hidden by the foliage. Fruit is a reddish brown drupe

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Needle palm is noted for its excellent winter hardiness. In a protected location, it is considered to be winter hardy to USDA Zone 6b. It is typically grown in organically rich, evenly moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best performance is in part-shade. Site in protected locations that are sheltered from winter winds. Mature plants will often survive some winter temperatures to -5 degrees F. Mulch around the base of the plant in winter. Plants will sucker along the stems, sometimes profusely, to form dense clumps. Propagate from suckers or from seed.

Additional information

Common Name

'Needle', Palm

Botanical Name

Rhapidophyllum hystrix


25 gallon

Evergreen or Deciduous


Hardiness Zone

10a, 10b, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b

Growth Rate


Light Requirements

Part-shade, Part-sun, Sun


to 6 ft.


to 8 ft.

Soil Condition


Water Needs


Blooming Period




Foliage Color


Deer Resistant


Berry Color


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