Ponytail Palm - Nolina recurvata

The Pony Tail Palm (Nolina recurvata) is not really a palm tree species at all. It is one of several "palm-like" plants that have been given names that include the term palm because they have an appearance that is similar to that of a palm. Other pseudo palms include the Madagascar palm, the Giant Bird of Paradise, Fern Palm and the Cycas Revoluta.

The Pony Tail palm is commonly used as a potted plant for both indoor and outdoor settings.
One of the more striking features of the Pony Tail palm is its large, round, bulb-like base that can reach a diameter of more than five feet at its widest point. Notice that even this relatively small one in the picture above has bulged so much at the base that it has broken the concrete container that it was planted in.

The leaves of the Ponytail palm grow at the terminal ends of the "branches". They are long and tapered to a point and arranged in a rosette type cluster the can resemble a head of hair or a cluster of feathers like some chickens have. If you find my descriptions confusing just go by the pictures and make your own call on what they look like.

I tried to capture a picture of the flower of this species but I think that the plant below was just past the prime floral stage. Not only that, my picture did not turn out very clear. I´ll have to keep an eye out for another one in flower.

The image below, taken in the University of Malaga botanical garden, shows what this plant looks like when it reaches full maturity with multiple branches and a more proportionate distribution between the base and the trunk.


  1. Dan: Very cool palm tree, I think I saw them in the Bahamas.

    BTW: The Ohio Buckeye is similar to a Horse Chestnut. Thanks for the visit.

  2. Here's my 'Elephant foot' tree called Dumbo. I got it as a 6" sprout at the supermarket in 1974. It's been repotted 4 or 5 times since then. It's 6 foot tall with a 10" foot and 2" trunk. Since I live in Pennsylvania, USA, he lives indoors from October to April and 'vacations' outside the rest of the year.

  3. I will be moving in Feb from the Pacific NW to the Boston Area. Will my 9ft tall pony tail survive the journey?

  4. Stephen T., I'm sure you've already made the move, but just wanted you to know I had moved from the Boston area to the midwest last summer and my 8ft. pony tail tree survived!

  5. Thanks for the info but my 10ft high ponytail did not make it!

  6. My mom, unknowingly, cut the top off of my ponytail palm after this past winter. Now it has new growth all around it. Should I remove them and grow them in different pots to encourage more growth to the top of the palm?

  7. roserob@telkomsa.netNovember 27, 2010 at 5:00 PM

    Hi there I have seeds from my ponytail. I took them off when they started to fall. I have tried planting them in potting soil, but nothing seems to be happening. I have kept a few and would really LOVE to know how to get them to grow. I love them.
    Rosemary Peterson

  8. I just bought a plant.Let me enjoy as it grows.