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Bismarck Palm - Bismarckia nobilis
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Written by Real Palm Trees   


A palm tree that will grasp your attention at a moments sight. The Bismarck palm will gain your respect as it gracefully lines many grand hotels and many sub-developments in the south. Widely used for xeriscaping in southern California to Arizona all the way to Florida, the Bismarck will make a great impression and addition to any home. The silver-blue leaves can make a dramatic appearance to any pool area, lawn, or backyard. The Bismarck palm tree is the most sought after outdoor palm for its beauty an awe striking appearance. I would definitely include this species in your landscape design. Below I have listed a few "Do It Yourself" tips for planting a palm tree in your next interior design project

DIY - Landscape Design

Landscaping with a very attractive and striking Bismarck palm tree is very simple. Since the Bismarck demands attention, the design concept behind placing a Bismarck palm tree is not too difficult. The idea is to make it a focal point of your yard enhancing the look of your home. Depending on the size of your yard is the variable needed on choosing the size Bismarck that would accommodate that specific space. The Bismarck palm is not recommended for small yards. Example: Since a Bismarck palm tree may grow up to 50+ feet you do not want to place a recently purchased 6ft Bismarck in a condo with a lawn space of 10ft x10ft. It would take away from the appeal of the condo and outgrow the space. To make the Bismarck aesthetically pleasing to the eye it would be recommended to place one Bismarck in the front on the side with the most open space. If your home is large enough and could support two Bismarcks then by all means place one on each side of the house. This placement would make the Bismarck palm tree grand and awe inspiring. It is usually not a good idea to place a Bismarck palm in the back yard since it will not be publically displayed and might outgrow the size of the back yard. On a commercial landscape design I would recommend a row of Bismarck palms spaced roughly 10-15 feet apart on the entry road ways either on one side or if not both sides by the walkway, or one grand Bismarck with a spread of 20 ft in the center of a round-about located in the front of the home or building.

DIY - Indoor Design

Designing with a Bismarck palm indoors can prove quiet tricky and a challenge to which I have not failed. Limited to a certain extent, interior designing with a Bismarck would have to be based around the design plan itself. The design of your home will have to include extra natural lighting or an open top roof. A large enough skylight would suffice as well. Maintaining and growing a Bismarck palm requires extra natural lighting enough sun light of about 5 to 6 hours. Given the right environment the Bismarck will do absolutely fine. You do not want to place a Bismarck palm tree in the corner of any room. It must have enough room to grow upwards and out. Also I would only recommend placing only one Bismarck inside your home. Using a Bismarck palm for the interior of a mall or corporate center is much easier because there is natural lighting entering in every direction. I had a customer that placed a Bismarck palm tree in a glass roof room adjacent to the living room. The open top roof allowed enough natural sun for the Bismarck to flourish. It made for a stunning appearance. When placing the Bismarck palm tree inside, provide about 3 to 8 foot radius spacing around the palm so the leaves don't touch any other object- this is a helpful tip to reduce browning. I hope these ideas help you on your next interior design encounter with the Bismarck palm.

Please, feel free to comment on this article. Any new design ideas, comments, or appreciation is welcomed.

Bismarck Palm Overview:

Bismarck Palm Tree Naming Conventions:

Palm Name: Bismarck Palm - (biz-MAR-k) (Palm)
Common Name(s): Bismark Palm, Bismarck Palm, Silver Bismarck Palm
Botanical Name: Bismarckia nobilis - (biz-MAR-kee-uh) (no-BIL-iss)
Synonym(s): Medemia nobilis

Bismarck Palm Tree Plant Classification:

Linnaean Taxonomy SystemLinnaean Taxonomy System:

Superdomain: Neomura Palm Tree Information Theoretical Group
Domain: Eukaryota - (Eu-kary-ote) Palm Tree Information 4 Organisms - Animals, plants, fungi, and protists
Kingdom: Plantae (Plants) Palm Tree Information 3 Groups - Streptophyta (Green Plants), Rhodophyta (Red Algae ), and Glaucophyta (Green Microscopic Algae)
Subkingdom: Streptophyta (also known as Streptophytes, Metaphytes, or Viridiplantae) Palm Tree Information Green Plants
Super Division: Embryophyta (also known as Embryophytes) Palm Tree Information Land Plants
Division: Tracheophyta (also known as Tracheophytes or Tracheobionta) Palm Tree Information Vascular plants - higher plant life
Division: Spermatophyta (also known as Spermatophytes or Phanerogams) Palm Tree Information Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta (also commonly known as Angiosperms) Palm Tree Information Flowering plants
Plant Class: Monocotyledons or Monocots (also known as Monocotyledoneae or Monocotyledones) Palm Tree Information One embryonic seed leaf
Palm Family: Arecaceae - (ar-ek-AY-see-ay)
Palm Genus: Bismarckia - (biz-MAR-kee-uh)
Palm Species: nobilis - (no-BIL-iss)

Bismarck Palm Tree General Description:

The Bismarck Palm tree is a stoutly giant palm tree that gracefully dominates the island of Madagascar. The Bismarck palm tree has a dramatic effect on any landscape small or large. The spread of the Bismarck is fairly wide with beautiful silver-blue leaves. The leaf of the Bismarck palm is 5 ft wide and 5 ft long. The leaf is comprised of a stiff and waxy texture. The palmate fan leaves are supported by stems that can be 10 ft in length and 10 inches in diameter. This tropical palm can reach heights up to 70 ft and prefers full sun but will tolerate some shade. The recently introduced Bismarck palm has a high drought tolerance making the Bismarck palm tree a most desired fan palm for xeriscaping. The Bismarck palm has been grown inside given the right environment but thrives outdoors.

Bismarck Palm Tree Habitat:

Palm Continent of Origin: Africa
Palm Country of Origin: Madagascar Island
Indoor/ Outdoor: Both
Palm North America Outdoor Hardiness: USDA Zone 10a: 30 F (-1.1C) to USDA Zone 11: above 40 F (4.5 C)
Palm Europe/ UK Outdoor Hardiness: Europe Zone 10: 30 F (-1.1C) to Europe Zone 11: above 40 F (4.5 C)
Palm Cold Toleration: Approximately 0-10, F

Bismarck Palm Tree Physical Appearance:

Palm Height: 20 - 60 ft
Palm Spread: 20 - 25 ft
Palm Trunk: The trunk of the Bismarck is very stout and heavy. Bismarck palms grow upright and have a single showy trunk that is smooth when mature but keeps its leaf base when young. The color of the Bismarck palm trunk varies from an off white to grayish tint color. The branches off the Bismarck trunk do not droop and contain thorns similar to those of the Sabal palmetto.
Palm Foliage: Variance of silver and blue colors; deep blue to light blue-green colors and up to 15 feet in length
Palm Foliage Growth Direction: Grows outward more so than upward
Palm Flowering: Off white to cream also know to be gray
Palm Fruits: Deep brown when ripe and olive green in early stages
Palm Fruits Edible: The Bismarck palm fruit is not edible
Palm Leaf Type: Palmate

Bismarck Palm Tree Growth Attributes:

Palm Speed of growth: Moderate to Fast
Palm Radial Spacing: 15 - 30 ft
Sun Exposure: Full sun to light shade
Drought Toleration: Highly Drought tolerant
Salt Toleration: Moderate
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Early Summer

Bismarck Palm Tree Caring and Maintenance:

Palm Caring: Easy, in the right environment
Soil: The Bismarck palm is adaptable to wide range of soils. Use good draining soil.
Soil Types: Acidic and Alkaline or either one
Water: Regularly water soil, and spray leaves for optimal results
Fertilizer: Use 100% organic or organic based fertilizers for best results
Potting and Planting: The Bismarck Palm can be potted and planted in landscapes and in interior surroundings; it requires large amounts of soil when potted, enough soil to cover it's roots and the bottom start of it's trunk. Do not bury the Bismarck Palm tree's trunk inside the dirt.

Bismarck Palm Tree Environmental Impact:

The Bismarckia nobilis is a very drought tolerant palm tree which in turn saves on water consumption. A Bismarck palm also provides quick screening for privacy and provides natural shading for understory plants and palms to thrive in. It is the most common palm tree in Madagascar so there are no threats of extinction nor any major pests or insect problems.

Bismarck Palm Tree Seed, Cultivation, and Propagation:

Palm Seed Size: The average size is 1 to 3 inches
Palm Seed Attributes: The seed is dark to light brown in color with a smooth lump texture
Palm Seed Harvesting: Seeds are obtained from within the fruits. The fruits grow largely on the stalk. One stalk of the Bismarck palm tree, filled with seeds, can weigh up to 100 lbs
Palm Seed Propagation: The Bismarck palm seeds typically germinate in less than 2 months. Seeds have a better chance of germinating if the process is done by human intervention.
Palm Seed Shelf Life: If not properly treated, the Bismarck palm seed shelf life is about 2-6 months.
Palm Seed and Growing: The Bismarck palm can be grown indoors, in the right conditions.

Bismarck Palm Tree Nurture and Nature:

Nurture vs. Nature: Typically the Bismarck palms thrive when kept under normal natural outdoor conditions, rather than nurturing in a changing foreign environment. The Bismarck palm tree does not like to be relocated after planted into the ground.
Palm Transplanting: Transplanting a Bismarck palm tree could prove a challenge. The Bismarck palm tree does not like to be moved from the location it has been grown in. It is sensitive to transplanting and may have a minor to moderate transplant shock. The period of transplant shock could be anywhere from 2 weeks up to a year depending on human intervention. The Bismarck palm tree will inevitably survive due to its high levels of stress tolerance. Measures can be taken to lessen the effect of transplant shock. Watering 2-3 times a day for 3-4 weeks. Adding organic mycorrhizal fungi to the soil around the root system to catalyze root growth. This natural occurring fungi gives the palm tree a vital boost by colonizing the root systems. Cultivate the surrounding soil as to promote root extension allowing the Bismarck to flourish.

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