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The slow growing, sun-loving Brahia armata, commonly known as the Blue Hesper or Mexican Blue, is native to Baja Mexico and uniquely suited to thrive with minimal water in the dry climate of Southern California. The Hesper's prominent canopy and artic blue leaves stand out among other plants, lending a dramatic aesthetic and rustic appeal to any landscape arrangement. In maturity the B. armata sports a large diameter greyish-white trunk that is often swollen at the bottom. The yellow flowering stem, or inflorescence, extends well beyond the leaf bases adding additional flare to an already impressive canopy. The Mexican Blue makes for a dramatic focal point in any landscape and vividly contrasts against a backdrop of green trees.
Named for one of the Greek Hesperides who lived on an enchanted Island, this stunning palm is worthy of its exotic title. Overall, a very hardy palm perfect for Southern.
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Clear Trunk Height:
How we measure palms
Conditions for Growth
Native to Baja California, the Blue Hesper Palm grows with great success in much of California, including warmer inland coastal areas, the inland valleys and desert regions. While the B. armata grows on the beach, the tree will be stifled by the cool, moist air.
A proven drought-tolerant specimen that can survive with little water, the Blue Hesper thrives in very hot, dry conditions. With that said, occasional watering during the summer will make for a more attractive tree. It grows best in full sun and will not appreciate full shade.
They are also extremely cold tolerant. An established palm can survive periodic freezing down to 10F in a climate with warm summers. In cold climates, the Mexican Blue makes for a good container plant, but should be moved indoors and sheltered during the winter months. The Mexican Blue prefers alkaline soil, very good drainage and needs little water once established.
Growth Rate and Size
The Mexican Blue is a slow grower, clocking in at a rate of 3-5 inches per year in Southern Californiaand growing up to 30-40 feet tall with a 16-foot-wide canopy. The B. armata pictured in the top right panel grows on our property in Riverside and was likely planted in the mid 1940s. This 80 year old, heat-loving beauty stands just under 30 feet tall.
Specimens planted near the ocean or with excessive shade in cooler coastal climates may never reach this height. A specimen that appears to be about 50-60 years in Lido Island Park on the Newport Beach bay, though healthy in appearance, has short petioles and stands barely 12 feet tall.
The Armata features a wide, straight trunk that is thicker at the base and crowned with a stunning head of sharp fan-shaped leaves colored in dramatic shades of icy blues and greens. The leaf stalks, or petioles, can grow to 5 feet long with leaves spanning 6-8 feet wide and 3-4 feet long. A shaggy skirt will form on the Mexican Blue if old growth is not trimmed away. Cleared of leaf bases, the trunk is ringed, relatively smooth looking and gray. Aside from that, this striking palm needs little maintenance.
The inflorescence of the Blue Hesper is up to 15 feet long, on multiple branches with creamy white flowers in summer, giving way to yellow fruit.