This Beaucarnea is native to Central America. It is also known as the “elephant’s foot” or “bottle palm” thanks to the base of its flared trunk, which is shaped like a demijohn, and which serves as its water reserve.
Beaucarnea is the name given by Charles Lemaire in 1861, to honor Jean-Baptiste Beaucarne, a Belgian succulent grower who first collected the species’ flowers. Recurvata means “bent backwards”.
Description and flowering period
This tree-like perennial is said to be a xerophyte (from Greek xeros = dry and phuton = plant), which means that it is adapted to dry environments and can resist extensive periods without any water. Its growth is really slow, yet it can reach up to 8 meters in height. The base of its trunk swells to become bottle-shaped. It constitutes a water reserve. Its bark is grey and cracks with age. Its slender, persistent and shiny ribbon-like leaves with sharp margins can reach over 1 meter long. Its small flowers (1.5cm) bear 6 cream-coloured petals and only appear in mature subjects. The fruits are equally tiny and each bears 1 to 3 round seeds.
It has to be planted in extremely draining and rather acidic soil. It enjoys full sun or partial light shade. If used as a house-plant, provide a sunny spot. It tolerates frosts up to -7°c (-3°c for younger subjects) and is extremely drought-resistant.
Ornamental, grown as a house-plant in temperate areas.
Since NASA undertook a study in 1980, Beaucarnea recurvata is considered to be an efficient de-polluting agent (it can absorb indoors air pollution caused by chemicals present within our homes – paints, cleaning products, solvents, etc.).
Translated by: François Saint-Hillier – MNHN