Trithrinax campestris

blue needle palm
Compelling, stiff, steely-grey leaves are fiercely armed, as are trunks. The long held leaves make several dense crowns. Shrubby when young, trunking with age.
Trithrinax campestrisTrithrinax campestrisTrithrinax campestris
height 12–20ft
width 10–15ft
tolerates Cold, Cool Summers, Drought, Deer , Fog, Heat, Pots, Salt, Wind
Low – Moderate
Not all palms love water and the armature of this one is evidence of its seasonally dry habitat. The blue needle palm is drought-tolerant and can live quite happily on little water once it’s established, though it’ll grow more slowly. To keep your palm looking its best, be sure to water it consistently and deeply while it’s getting established, then after a few years give it a good deep soaking every couple of weeks. It will also be happy to have more water, provided the soil drainage is adequate.
exposure Full Sun
drainage In Ground: Cactus Mix, In Pots: Cactus Mix, Tolerates Sandy Soil
fertilizing Palm Fertilizer
origin N Argentina
7–9, 11–24

Sunset Zones Map

Outdoor Exposure Guide


Full Sun
Six or more hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Shade
Three to five hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Sun
One to two hours of sun beams directly landing on the plants leaves.

Full Shade
The plant is never fully lit by sun beams, but is in a bright spot or has dappled sunbeams playing over the leaves throughout the day.

Deep Shade
The plant never has dappled light on the leaves, and is in a place that feels dim, even on a nice sunny day.


Growing Notes

This palm is very slow growing, and as such fertilizer is recommended to help speed it along. They should be fertilized at least three times a year. Fertilizing at spring equinox, summer solstice and fall equinox will allow for a winter rest. Be sure to feed your palm with a fertilizer that contains micronutrients (especially including magnesium), especially if you see yellowing leaves or yellow spots on the leaves.
Suckering palms like this one send out additional palm trunks from the base of the palm over time, so that you’ll end up with multiple trunks on one palm. If you want fewer trunks, go ahead and thin out the suckers; just be sure to do it when they are young to avoid unsightly scarring later on.
As a defense against predation this palm holds onto its needle sharp beard, creating a skirt on the trunk. If you want, you can always prune off the beard for a cleaner look, thought this should be done early and consistently for ease of maintenance. If fire retardance is a consideration the beard should be removed annually, though this plant survives fire in habitat, leaving a blackened beardless trunk.
Fan palms have leaflets spreading from the tip of the rachis, giving the crown of the palm a rounded full look. They tend to rustle in the breeze, adding a soothing note to the garden.
This palm is exposed to flooding in its natural habitat and as such should also tolerate extreme saturation of soil, at least briefly.
Best kept back from pathways, as this plant is both fiercely armed and also compels one to touch it. Leaf tips are deceptively sharp, making the blue needle palm an excellent choice for deterring intrusion along fence lines or below windows.
Tolerates winter rains in California, but only with well drained soil.

Special Interest

This palm contributes to the oasis-style garden, especially when it’s mixed with cactus and other drought-tolerant plants like euphorbias. It also makes an unusual and yet compelling addition to the Mediterranean garden when mixed with lavender, rosemary, and olives.

There is a second form of this species from lower altitudes that is typically solitary and has greener leaves.