Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Bismarck Palm, Bismark Palm
Bismarckia nobilis

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Bismarckia (biz-MAR-kee-uh) (Info)
Species: nobilis (NO-bil-iss) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

23 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Unknown - Tell us

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Pollen may cause allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds

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25 positives
7 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive MYCATNOEL On Mar 17, 2013, MYCATNOEL from Seminole, FL wrote:

I love this palm it's beautiful. I wanted to know how to grow from seeds . There are four huge plants in Seminole Florida bearing seeds of all stages,magnificent view. I picked up a seed the size of a walnut black and wrinkled don't know what to do with it, is there a special way to plant it? does anyone know ?...jan

Neutral NorthSC On Mar 11, 2013, NorthSC from North, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

I bought this 4 foot tall palm from RealPalmTrees website since it is advertised as hardy to zone 8B. We've had zone 9 weather in the past two winters, so I decided to buy one and upon arrival, no matter how good the care was it died by drying up from the fronds down. Then the spear pulled with fishy smell, so I received a replacement and took a second chance and planted in the ground with temps being above freezing and only one night in the high 20s, but no matter that I watered it well as per instructions, applied root growth powder, did not disturb the roots at all while transplanting it, the second specimen is all drying up, but the tiny trunk is still green, so that gives me a little hope, yet the fast drying up in 2 weeks is probably a sign that it is not going to make it yet again. Perhaps it is only a zone 10 plant? Then why is it being sold as zone 8B plant? Or perhaps these are impossible to transplant? To mention, it cost me $250.

P.S. Update: 4th April 2013: while the fronds are all dried up and brown and the central spear is mostly dried and brown, but there are areas on the lower part of the spear that have some green in it. Also a couple spots o the trunk have some green. I watered it twice a day for a month and now down to every day watering, but will slow down to 3 times a week after 3 months. I still have hope it may show some growth although overwintering it with or without protection in zone 8-9 is another matter.

By the way, at the new Farmer's Market near Columbia, SC I have seen some kind of palms (about 4-5 ft. tall) planted in sand with many other palms on a street corner. Those look like Bismarckia nobilis, but could be something else. The colour seems to look like Bismarck palm. Those made through winter without protection there, with severe burns, but still some green as well, which gives hope.

Update: May 26, 2013: the central spear (all that remains from my second Bismarckia) is now completely brown without even a slightest hint of greenness, yet it does not pull out yet. I could use that spot for another palm, but have to wait probably until the next winter, to see what's going on with it.

Update: Sept. 8, 2013: About 4 months ago I planted 155 seeds, planted professionally in environmentally friendly pots, and now months later there are about 50 of them germinated and growing in a variety of pots. What's most interesting that the "dead" one that I already drove over with a lawnmower tractor just showed signs of regrowth, now, in September 2013. :-) Thus upgrading this post from negative to neutral. If this palm survives and overwinters in my zone 8/9 I will upgrade this post to positive.

Positive Crawman1 On Sep 16, 2012, Crawman1 from Gainesville, FL wrote:

We planted this at our house in St. Augustine Beach, Florida. The palm has a very fast growth rate and is doing very well in the spot we chose for it in full sun but shared with some coastal live oaks. It has gotten huge, much bigger than we expected, It came out of a 30 gallon pot and is now 15 ft. tall (the fronds, that is) in four years. It continuously puts out new spikes. It is basically growing in beach sand since we are probably no more than 200 yards from the beach. We haven't had a problem with frost. It does get below freezing here but usually for a short period of time only plus it is protected from the north wind by a large two-story house next door. We also have Bouganvillea growing but it has frozen down to the ground. A large, striking, beautiful palm. My favorite.

Positive StevePalmSpring On Jun 20, 2011, StevePalmSpring from Palm Springs, CA wrote:

Planted after seeing gorgeous specimens in Palm Harbor, FL. Stops growing during cold weather but begins as soon as weather warms. Keeps its wonderful silver blue color. Have uploaded pictures from 2006 when first planted and now, 2011. Has not flowered yet.

Positive sherizona On Mar 2, 2011, sherizona from Peoria, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

One of my favorite palms for the Southwest. I have one planted in full, all-day sun where the temps during the summer can reach 115. It grows super fast during this blistering heat. Transplant shock is very common so extra care is needed but once this palm gets comfy in the ground it grows very fast.

Neutral Seedera On Sep 9, 2010, Seedera from Punta Gorda, FL wrote:

I have 8 Silver Bismark seeds that have rooted, but no sprouts have come up. Anyone know how long that takes? I have them individually placed in 3 gallon containers and they have been rooted for a little over 2 months.


also have some seeds for sale if anyone wants some.

Positive morti234 On Mar 7, 2010, morti234 from Venice, FL wrote:

All the comments I've read about the Bismark palm are very good, however but no one has mentioned the potential damaging effects of strong winds on young fan palms. I live in Venice, Fl and my first young Bismark was blown down and destroyed in a tropical storm. I secured my present one with ropes tied to rebar stakes untill it was well established.. It is at least 10 ft tall now and what a joy to behold. Definitely stake your palm as it is too precious to do otherwise.

Positive perkite On Nov 5, 2009, perkite from Houston, TX wrote:

This is a gorgeous palm tree. I planted it over a year ago. The coldest low recorded at my house last winter was 28 degrees, and there was no noticeable damage. We are just far enough south and close enough to the gulf to be able to grow this palm over winter. An extraordinary winter could damage or kill this tree I imagine, but most winters will not.

Positive nalin1 On Jun 15, 2009, nalin1 from New Delhi
India (Zone 10a) wrote:

Truly a noble palm and most beautiful of all palms in my opinion. Leaves first time viewers breathless. Extremely hardy in our zone and has given no trouble at all. Other palms for our zone such as foxtail, areca, rhaphis, liciala, triangularis and others generally have problems here due to too much heat or too much water (triangularis) and termites. There is no special fertilizing schedule for Bismarckia--2 times a year leaf mould and/or aged manure.

Positive plantparent On Jun 1, 2009, plantparent from Sarasota, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I am in love with this palm. Stately looking as a specimen.
I tend them in areas with a lot of wind and salt (container plantings). While they show stress during very cold they do recover well. This may be due to being confined to the containers. I (and they) would prefer being in ground due to their wonderful size.

Positive billowen On May 25, 2009, billowen from Port Charlotte, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Fast growing, almost bullet proof in Southwest Florida. One of the most beautiful cold hardy palms I know of. Just one point, do not harm the roots when transplanting from a pot, cut the pot if needed. Once established it's difficult to move, many die if not transplanted properly. Update Dec. 2010, has tripled in size, fantastic growth rate.

Positive ArchAngeL01 On Mar 24, 2009, ArchAngeL01 from Myrtle Beach, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:

Hey i LOVE this palm and i have seen it in florida before and looked for one ever since and ive looked everywhere for one ! GRRRRRRR no luck though but can anyone trade your bismark for my pygmy date palm or my large needle palm? please help!!! hehe thanx

Positive zillabug On Jan 15, 2009, zillabug from Cato, NY wrote:

We purchased 4 of these beautiful blue specimens last May to (hopefully) live out their lives in 40 & 50 gallon containers. Last spring they were delivered from S. Florida in 10 gallon nursery containers, and the spent the summer partially buried in those containers among the Landscape at Pittsford Plaza and Eastview Mall. They all seemed to do well, slowly sprouting new growth. In October they were transplanted into their new, large containers, and brought inside the building to a south facing glass entrance. Transplant shock was apparent in 2 of the plants, but so far, so good...all have survived. As expected, their appearence up here has inspired many positive comments. They grow exceptionally slow, but they maintain the beautiful blue color. We have feed them "weakly" weekly, but we may experiment and 'up' the dosage on one or two of them to see if we can increase the amount of growth for our very short growing season. They do not like long stretches of cool, cloudy weather...this year we will be moving them indoors in late September.

Neutral CuratorMan On Oct 7, 2008, CuratorMan from Locust Valley, NY wrote:

I'm in Atlanta, GA - and recently purchased ten of these beauties to winter over in a cool greenhouse for use as focal points in containers next summer. They were only $10 for 3 gallon pots. My question is: the greenhouse will not get below 40 F over the winter and will be warmer on sunny days. Is it safe to leave them in their 3 gallon pots for the winter. Should I cut back on watering and let them get dry between waterings?


Positive LusiPalMan On Jul 11, 2008, LusiPalMan from Porto Alto
Portugal (Zone 9b) wrote:

The Bismark Palm its a awsome palm for those who want to dig just one more hole in the garden...for palm fever colectors or garden lovers.. like me!
In first place, ive to say just two things:
FIRST - the bismarck is frost resistance! the only one that i have, its outside of my garden in a full sun position, about 4 to 5 years on the ground, and the winter temperatures here as some diference between one year to another. there were cases that the temperature in one or more nights have just fall arround 24 F (-4 C), and the plant in the end of the winter station appears to have good looking, with just a few burn signals at the end of the leaves. In other cases, when the winter is rainy, i dont have to worry about; the temperatue raises up to 40 F or, the temperature is very unstable here, and i i dont mencionate the high summer and dry temperatures, strong northern winds and invasive and infestant grass plants that invade my Bismark all the year..but that..will be another story to SECOND: make sure you have the right spot to put your Bismarckia in..DONT DO IT LIKE I DO..i knew it and ive did it anyway...The one that ive now was a brother of another that ive lost on a transplatation..the plant was on the ground for about 1 year, but the place was not the best because she was on a place where the cars always run through, i tryed to convince my father to not put it out, and explain the motives, and my father, in a very delicated operation, for about 3 hours, and trying not to touch the roots, the plant cames out, with all the roots and with all the sand shape like when she was planted on the floor...the result...yes...unfortunaly...DEATH, 2 weeks later...

I will try very soon to put some photos of her here, on the site, and other palms and trees that i have.

Thanks, and sorry for my bad english writing

God bless you all

Positive tmccullo On May 28, 2007, tmccullo from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

We have had ours in Houston now for 1 year. It actually survived an ice storm and 3 days of weather below 32 degrees. It actually got down to 25 degrees for several hours with strong winds. There was some leaf damage and the center actually died. I sprayed it daily with a fungicide and it is growing again this spring. Of course weather like this is very unusual in Houston so I expect our Bismark to really take off this year. This is the most awesome palm in our collection.

Neutral davelodi On Mar 14, 2007, davelodi from Stockton, CA wrote:

I received one on Father's day 2006. What a beautiful Palm. It was doing so well until the big freeze 2007 in N. Cal. I pulled it up today and threw it away. Needless to say I was pretty sad... I will try again as soon as I find one!!!

Positive BayAreaTropics On Feb 7, 2007, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

A great palm. After the great California freeze of 2007,it is the talk of the town so to speak. Freezing to below freezing temps were shrugged off by even young palms. The cold tolerance of this exotic looking plant was a pleasant surprise.
They also have the ability to be fast growers in non tropical climates-at least to quickly grow new fronds if not trunk.
In ten or twenty years they will be seen all over California dotting the urban and suburban landscape I predict.
The culture is-sunniest and warmest spot with much summer water and fertilizer.I found they even grow fast in pots,given enough root room. A fast draining mix is best as usual for potted plants.
Expensive,but well worth it. Trouble free and fits in with the sunny jungle or Xeric garden design. A new introduction to our area,and a big hit it is.

Positive jawadkundi On Jan 11, 2007, jawadkundi from Lahore
Pakistan wrote:

" there is alot said about the ' Bismarckia nobilis ', its early child hood (2 years) and after the burgundy shade turn is due to frost and irregular watering habits, the seedling after sprouting " lets say three month old (2 inch from soil level) cannot sustain excessive water, it just erodes to dry, in 24 to 36 hours, there is one other element shedding light on the bone of the plant, regular dietary pattern enables and also monitors its crowns circumfrence aswell as the height from one sprouting leave from the other, usally every leaf is 3 to 5 inches higher from the previous one, if planted very near to a structure the magnetism silver is over shadowed, away and aloof it will have its share of light and nutrition, irregular watering sometimes invites termite attack, and it damages the formation of the early growth of its trunk and hinders the plant to form in full "

Positive GernBlandston On Nov 18, 2005, GernBlandston from Lake Elsinore, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I'm growing one Bismarck in a container in full sun in zone 9b. It produced four leaves this summer (2005). I overwatered it for about a month when I first got it, and the leaves started turning brown. After reducing watering to twice a week, it did fine and the new leaves are perfect.

Positive KUDDEL On Nov 3, 2005, KUDDEL from North Port, FL wrote:

I bought 2 plants in April 05 of this year. They are so beautiful and have grown since. One is 8 foot tall and the other is 6.5 and have given me, at this point, each 3 + new leaves. I bought them each for under $300, but
I have been told that this size sells for twice the money.
Over all, I am very happy and got a lot of attention in the neighborhood.

Positive elHoagie On Aug 30, 2005, elHoagie from Altadena, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Probably the best palm in my garden, looks great all the time and grows fast from May until Nov. Almost no growth at all during the winter, but it still manages to put out about 6 leaves per year for me. I purchased my first green Bismarckia this spring, and it appears to grow even faster, but it might not be as happy as the silver form once winter arrives.

Positive IslandJim On Nov 22, 2004, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have just uploaded a new image of one of my seedling Bismarckias, I planted the seed in February 2000. I live in an area where Bismarckias are a staple of upscale landscape construction. This seedling and its siblings [I have several] have the best color of any I have seen hereabouts--including those at Fairchild Tropical Gardens, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and Harry P. Leu Botalical Garden. The seed came from Madagascar, which may explain part of it. This tree is now about 3-1/2 to 4 feet tall; another in the same group is nearly 6 feet tall.

Neutral tcfromky On Aug 27, 2004, tcfromky from Mercer, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

The Bismarck Palm is another beautiful and desirable fan palm suitable for sub-tropical climates; although it can be grown as far north as Sarasota (freeze damage will occur, but the palm quickly recovers). Of the tribe Borasseae, and subfamily Corphoideae it is also known by the botanic name Bismarkia nobilis. Bismark Palms are native to Madagascar.

Neutral Kylecawaza On Aug 23, 2004, Kylecawaza from Corte Madera, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Prefers hot. Their are great specimens in inland CA, like Fresno. These palms survive the San Francisco area, but they grow extrmely slowly and are susceptable to rot.

Positive amorning1 On Feb 24, 2004, amorning1 from Islamorada, FL wrote:

Young ones are actually purple.

Positive laspalmasdesign On Dec 29, 2003, laspalmasdesign from Los Altos, CA wrote:

Don't hesitate to plant this palm in northern California especially if you are in the Bay Area inland. I started a small seedling three years ago and it is now over 3 feet tall and about as wide. It grows a little faster each year taking some time off in December through February. Plant it in the warmest, sunniest part of your yard and give it plenty of room. Relective walls or pavement are plusses as this palm flourishes in the heat. I've seen them grown in cool coastal areas too but they are slow growing in those conditions.

Positive mikehinz On Oct 9, 2003, mikehinz from phoenix, AZ (Zone 10a) wrote:

My original post below. From 2003. It is now 2014. I have been told that these may be the largest Bismarks in Arizona by two nurseries, moon valley as well as whitfield. I regularly get door knocks from landscape pros looking for tips.

Mynthree palms are now each over my roof line. The largest has verticle trunk of about 12 feet with a crown in excess of 8 feet. Pruned fronds are too large to haul in my Tahoe or in the bed of my helpers 4 wheelmwasre hauler. Fronds are about 8 to 12 feet from stalk to tip.... It is a remarkable set of trees.

Trees were set in a slight slope, hit by lawn overspray on the east side of a 2 story home. They were in full sun from early am til about 1 pm in summer heat but protected by the house from frying sun in heat of day.

I protected from hard freeze bybheating hearts with blankets and heat lamps for a week. Now that the crown of the largest plant is over my roof line it is in full sun all day. So far it has done well in the very hot 115 degree summers but growthnhas slowed ..

These guys are magnicicent. And have created a micro climate in my front yard... Love them

I live in Phoenix, Arizona (U.S.) and planted three Bismark Palms in Spring 1999. There are few experienced growers in my area, so I'm on my own.

The plants were initially small (ten-gallon pots) and about 8 inches of trunk with the top most frond arms arching at about 3 to 4 feet.

These plants appear drought-resistant and seem hardy in the cool dry winter nights (lows to 28 F.). They explode in growth in our HOT and humid summers, June thru September. Must be watered liberally (for Arizona) and fertilize 3 times per year.

Plants are now four times times bigger than when I planted them; the largest specimen trunk is nearly 4 1/2 feet. Arching fronds arching reach at 15 feet and no end in sight to growth. I remove fronds when they bend far enough to touch the ground.

Positive palmbob On Jan 3, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This palm, grown under the proper conditions (warm and humid) is a very fast growing palm. There are two forms, green and blue. The green form is slower in So Cal where it is dry, and is more cold sensitive, showing foliar damage at around 28F. The blue form is much more spectacular and is an excellent large specimen plant for most areas of Southern California, from the deserts to the coast. This form, once maturing, shows little leaf damage until the lower 20s. It is also a great palm for many areas of Florida from Orlando south to the Keys. In the tropics, both form are very fast growers, with the green form being the fastest, reaching a trunk height of 20' in just 7-10 years. Bismarckias have one of the most massive and impressive crowns of all the palms. In its native Madagascar it can be seeing growing in the drier areas far above the scrub- a very awe-inspiring sight.

This is dioecious palm... in other words, you will not get viable seed unless you have a mature male and female near each other (I think most recommend you do the pollination yourself)... but most growers just get the seed from the tropics. You cannot get good seed from just one palm, obviously. Best to germinate seed in deep containers as this palm has deep, sensitive roots. Germinate in large pots so you don't have to move from pot to pot too many times (these palms don't like their roots disturbed).

Leaves are costapalmate- those are palmate leaves with a curve near the tip and a large costa (mid-rib) down the center of the leaf). Leaves a very stiff, heavy and have a waxy coating (especially the blue form- waxy coating can be rubbed off with your hand to expose the green leaf beneath).

Positive Chamma On Dec 18, 2002, Chamma from Tennille, GA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is a spectacular palm but extremely slow growing. The trunk is tall and slender and reaches no more than a foot in diameter although the tree can reach tremendous height. It is a rather drought tolerant but looks and grows better with a regular water supply.

Neutral BotanyBob On May 29, 2001, BotanyBob from Thousand Oaks, CA wrote:

More information on this palm: It is a native of Madagascar. Two basic forms of this palm exist in cultivation: a green form, which is much more frost tender and less exotic looking than the blue-silver form. Some blue forms are nearly white-silver and are highly sought after.

This is a heat loving palm. In Florida, where the days are hot nearly all year round, it is a very fast grower, putting out 10-15 leaves a year. However, in Southern California, where it is only warm 1/2 the year at most, this is a much more slow-growing palm (maybe 2-3 leaves a year in warmer areas), and is much more sensitive to cold than it is in Florida. Chronic cool conditions will cause this palm to rot, and cold snaps (temps in the high 20s) can kill one outright, while similar temps in Florida will only cause leaf burn.

The eventual height of this palm is unknown in the US, but in Florida it appears to be at least 30-40 feet. In Southern California it may eventually get that tall, but may take 100 years to get there. It is a massive palm and plenty of room should be given for it to spread out. It is also one of the best looking palms there is (at least the blue form is), so be sure to plant it as a specimen in a showy spot.

When planting this palm it is important to know that that's really where you want it, since moving it usually ends up in death of the palm (unless still pretty small).

Positive PostmanSeb On May 14, 2001, PostmanSeb from Palm Bay, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

One of the most beautiful fan palms for subtropical landscapes. This Palm is massive, young specimens can spread to 20 feet or more. Freeze damage can occur, but will recover in a single season of growth. Seeds germinate in about 2 months.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Mesa, Arizona (2 reports)
Peoria, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona (4 reports)
Queen Creek, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona (3 reports)
Altadena, California
Brentwood, California
Corona, California
Fresno, California
Granada Hills, California
Hayward, California
Los Altos, California
Oceanside, California
Palm Springs, California
Rancho Cucamonga, California
Reseda, California
San Clemente, California
Santa Barbara, California (2 reports)
Spring Valley, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Westminster, California
Yorba Linda, California
Big Pine Key, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida (3 reports)
Bradenton, Florida
Brandon, Florida
Cape Canaveral, Florida
Cape Coral, Florida
Dade City, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Englewood, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida (3 reports)
Homestead, Florida (2 reports)
Islamorada, Florida
Key Largo, Florida
Key West, Florida (2 reports)
Kissimmee, Florida
Lake Helen, Florida
Largo, Florida
Miami, Florida (2 reports)
Minneola, Florida
Naples, Florida (2 reports)
North Fort Myers, Florida
Palm Bay, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Saint Augustine, Florida
Saint Cloud, Florida
Sanford, Florida (2 reports)
Sarasota, Florida (2 reports)
Seminole, Florida
Sugarloaf Shores, Florida
Summerland Key, Florida
Sumterville, Florida
Tampa, Florida (3 reports)
Tavernier, Florida
Valrico, Florida
Venice, Florida (2 reports)
West Palm Beach, Florida
Grovetown, Georgia
Agana Heights, Guam
Ainaloa, Hawaii
New Orleans, Louisiana
Las Vegas, Nevada
Rochester, New York
North, South Carolina
Brownsville, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas
Galveston, Texas
Houston, Texas (2 reports)
San Antonio, Texas

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