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Rhapidophyllum hystrix (Needle palm)
Cressler, Alan

Rhapidophyllum hystrix

Rhapidophyllum hystrix (Pursh) H. Wendl. & Drude ex Drude

Needle Palm, Blue Palmetto

Arecaceae (Palm Family)


USDA Symbol: rhhy

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Needle Palm is an armed shrub, rarely more than 6 ft. tall, with erect or spreading stems from a short trunk. The leaf sheaths have long, needle-like, stiff and sharp spines. The fruit, a red drupe, is preceded by a short, dense inflorescence.


From the Image Gallery

15 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: Up to about 6 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug


USA: AL , FL , GA , MS , SC
Native Distribution: C. GA, s. to c. FL, AL & MS
Native Habitat: Swamps; wet to mesic woods & hammocks; dry rocks

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Description: Various wet to dry soils.
Conditions Comments: Needle palm is slow growing and adaptable. It can be used as a ground cover or ornamental specimen, and has proven tolerant of parking lot conditions.


Commercially Avail: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Georgia Native Plant Society - Atlanta, GA
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 78 - (2020) Missouri Native Plant Society
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Rhapidophyllum hystrix in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Rhapidophyllum hystrix in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Rhapidophyllum hystrix


Record Modified: 2023-02-24
Research By: TWC Staff

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