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Wodyetia bifurcata (Foxtail Palm)

Foxtail Palm

Foxtail Palm, Wodyetia bifurcata
Foxtail Palm, Wodyetia bifurcata

Wodyetia bifurcata, commonly known as the Foxtail Palm, is a beloved palm species known for its unique and attractive features. It’s a relatively recent discovery in terms of horticulture but has quickly gained popularity worldwide.

Foxtail Palm: An In-depth Look

The Foxtail Palm is renowned for its bushy fronds that resemble a fox’s tail. Each leaf is long, plume-like, and arching, creating a graceful and symmetrical canopy.

Native: This palm is native to Queensland, Australia, specifically to a very limited area in the Cape York Peninsula. It was unknown to the world until the 1970s.

Plant Type and Habit: It is a moderately fast-growing, evergreen, monoecious palm. It features a single, smooth, slender trunk with a slightly swollen base and a canopy of 8-10 leaves.

Size: Wodyetia bifurcata can reach heights of 30 feet or more (9 m), with a spread of about 10-15 feet (3 to 4.5 m) at the crown.

Flowers: It produces creamy-white to pale yellow flowers. The palm is monoecious, meaning both male and female flowers are found on the same plant. Flowering occurs from late spring to early summer.

Fruits: After flowering, it produces clusters of brilliant red-orange fruits, each about the size of a small tomato.

Foliage: Its fronds are unique, with leaflets arranged in a circular fashion along the rachis, giving it the characteristic ‘foxtail’ appearance. They can reach 7-9 feet in length (2.1 to 2.7 m)

Trunk: The trunk is smooth, gray, 8-10 inches thick (20-25 cm), and ringed with leaf scars. Above the trunk sits a pale green crownshaft from which the fronds emerge.

Uses: Primarily used as an ornamental plant, it’s popular in tropical and subtropical landscapes for its unique appearance and shade-providing canopy.

Hardiness: It is suitable for USDA zones 10-11 and prefers a warm, humid climate but can tolerate light frost once established. Minimum Temperature: 30°F (-1°C)

Wildlife: The fruits can attract various birds and small mammals.

Toxicity: There is no known toxicity to pets or humans, making it safe for residential planting.

Deer and Rabbit: This is not a preferred food source for deer and rabbits.

Drought / Salt: It exhibits moderate drought tolerance once established. It also has some salt tolerance, making it suitable for coastal areas.

Invasiveness: It is not considered invasive but should be monitored in non-native environments to ensure it doesn’t spread uncontrollably.

Growing and Caring for Foxtail Palm

Light: Prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade. Bright, indirect light ensures vibrant growth.

Soil: Requires well-draining soil, ideally a mix rich in organic matter. Prefers acidic soil and develops nutrient deficiencies in alkaline soil.

Water: Consistent watering is crucial, especially in the growing season. Allow the topsoil to dry out between waterings to prevent root rot.

Fertilizer: Fertilize with a balanced, slow-release palm fertilizer during the growing season. Avoid over-fertilizing, which can damage the plant.

Pruning: Minimal pruning needed; only remove dead or damaged fronds. Regular cleaning of old fronds maintains its aesthetic appeal.

Propagation: Primarily propagated through seeds. Requires warm, moist conditions for germination.

Pests and Diseases: Watch for common pests like spider mites and scale insects. Susceptible to lethal yellowing disease and root rot in overly wet conditions.

Requirements

Hardiness 10 - 11
Climate Zones H1, H2
Plant Type Palms - Cycads
Plant Family Arecaceae
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 20' - 30'
(6.1m - 9.1m)
Spread 10' - 15'
(3m - 4.6m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen
Native Plants Australia
Attracts Birds
Garden Styles Coastal Garden, Mediterranean Garden
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 10 - 11
Climate Zones H1, H2
Plant Type Palms - Cycads
Plant Family Arecaceae
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 20' - 30'
(6.1m - 9.1m)
Spread 10' - 15'
(3m - 4.6m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen
Native Plants Australia
Attracts Birds
Garden Styles Coastal Garden, Mediterranean Garden
How Many Plants
Do I Need?

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