Virtual Tour


The needle palm, as this plant is called, is not from an island. Its native homeland is the United States. Its favorite place to grow is in states in the southeastern part of the U.S., especially Florida, where it doesn't get too cold. But, it can also survive in more northern places like the District of Columbia, if it's planted in a protected spot. It's been growing at the Arboretum for about 30 years, and has survived even our worst snow and ice storms.

Bonus fact:
The temperature outside sometimes isn't the same in all spots in your yard. Where the temperature is hotter or cooler, there's a "microclimate." "Micro" means "small," so a microclimate is a small spot that has temperatures that are different from those around it. For example, the needle palm can grow at the Arboretum because it's planted on a hillside above the Anacostia River where warm temperatures rise from the river and are trapped. The wind isn't as bad on the side of the hill as on the top of it either. If the needle palm were planted in the middle of a large, open field, it probably wouldn't survive here.

How to find the needle palm at the Arboretum:
Facing the Asian Collections sign near the parking lot, turn right and walk down the road (look out for cars). Look for the yellow concrete path and turn left onto it. Where the path makes its first right turn, look to the left on the hillside and you'll see the palm.

Scientific name for needle palm: Rhapidophyllum hystrix

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Last Updated   July 10, 2009 10:05 AM