Beaucarnea recurvata is an evergreen caudiciform shrub or tree that is native to semi-desert areas of southeastern Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. It can grow up to 30′ tall, with a truck 15′ across. As a houseplant is tends to be much smaller in size, almost a bonsai because its growth is restricted by pot size.
It gets the common name ‘Elephant’s foot’ because of its large, water-retaining base (caudex) from which a trunk-like stem rises. It is possible for side shoots to come from the caudex and possiblt the main truck may branch. Mature plants have 3′ long leaves that form clumps at the ends of the branches and droop down, thus the specific epithet.
Mature plants may bloom in late spring or summer. The small cream-colored flowers are held in a 2′ tall pyramidal-shaped inflorescence at the branch tips and are sometimes followed by reddish winged fruit.
Pronunciation: bow-KAR-nee-uh rek-er-VAY-tuh
Species Meaning: Bent backwards
Beaucarnea recurvata is native to Mexico.
Plant in full sun outdoors and good light indoors, water deeply and infrequently. It prefers warm, arid temperatures, above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It is said that they languish below 50 degrees, so we will have to see how it likes our winter, when 50 degrees is typically the high for the day.
The large clump has been divided into 6 separate plants. One has been planted out int he yard, two given away and the remainder will be protected over winter.
Propagate by division. The clump came apart fairly easily once some of the dried roots were cut.
It appears that each clump only had one or two active growing roots and many dead roots whose function was to hold the plant in place only. Some of the caudexes were bare of all roots, but that appears to be OK. Planted n free draining soil mix, and in some cases the caudex was lifted so that half of it was exposed.
In Our Garden
Plant ID: P20132
Found in Garden of the Giants,
In the tropical section close to the main path and road.
We acquired this plant from Bear Valley Nursery.