Bismarckia nobilis

Common Name: Bismarck palm 
Type: Tree
Family: Arecaceae
Native Range: Madagascar
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 30.00 to 40.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Creamy white
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Tolerate: Drought, Clay Soil


Best grown in evenly moist, well-draining soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of some light shade and clay soils as long as they are not overly wet. Drought tolerant once established, but regular moisture will promote faster growth. Fertilize regularly with a palm-specific, slow release fertilizer. One of the more difficult palms to transplant and may take a year or more to fully recover. Root pruning prior to digging and keeping plants well watered until reestablished will improve chances of success. Hardy in Zones 10-11. Marginally hardy in Zone 9b(25°F) if planted in a protected location.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Bismarckia nobilis, commonly called Bismarck palm, is a large, solitary palm endemic to the savannas, grasslands, and other open habitats of western Madagascar. Mature plants can reach up to 70' tall in the wild but tend to reach 30-40' tall in cultivation. The unbranched trunks can reach 1.5-2' wide and are topped with a 10-15' wide canopy of grey-green, costapalmate leaves. The leaf blades will typically reach 4-10' wide and are held on sturdy, upright, 6.5-9' long petioles (leaf stalks). Pendent, arching, branched inflorescences reaching 5' long emerge from between the leaves bearing small, inconspicuous, creamy white flowers. This palm is dioecious, meaning that male and female flowers are produced on separate individuals. Only female plants will produce fruit, and pollen from a male plant is required for the formation of viable seeds. Fruits are 1.5" wide and olive-brown in color.

Genus name Bismarckia honors Prince Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898), Prussian statesman and first Chancellor of the German Empire.

The specific epithet nobilis means "noble".


Susceptible to lethal bronzing disease and ganoderma butt rot. Boron and potassium deficiency are common. Magnesium and manganese deficiency are occasionally seen. Palmetto weevils can be problematic especially when living leaves are pruned off of palms with underlying stress from cold, transplant shock, or other factors. Poorly drained, overly moist soils will lead to root rot.


Accent specimen for lawns, parks, and other large landscape areas. Not suitable for small garden spaces.