Fact sheet: Mule palm
Common Names: Mule Palm, Butia Queen Cross, Hybrid
Cold Tolerance: 14F (-10C). Some trees have withstood temperatures as low as 10F (-12C).
USDA Zones: (8b) 9-11
Typical Height: 30′
Growth Rate: Fast
This beautiful palm is the result of Butia capitata being pollinated by Syagrus romanzoffiania. It is extremely frost hardy and can withstand temperatures to at least 14F (-10C) when large enough. It is possibly the nearest coconut lookalike that can be grown. The palm is sterile, hence its nickname the `Mule palm` , and all palms must be produced by painstaking hand pollination.
A name created from a combination the parent genera, Butia and Syagrus. The species name honors Paul Nabonnand, a French horticulturist, who first reported the hybrid in the early 1900’s.
Synonyms: Syagrus X fairchildianae
The Mule Palm, X Butiagrus nabonnandii, is one of the most beautiful of all the frost-hardy pinnate-leaved palms. Its rarity and useful size make it a treasure for warm climate gardens, bringing coconut-like lushness to areas where the frost-tender true coconut (Cocos nucifera) would not prosper. Although nurseries and palm fanciers may deliberately create the cross, as Paul Nabonnand did early in the 20th century, these rare trees more often arise as accidental hybrids among seedlings planted where their parents (a Queen Palm, Syagrus romanzoffiana, and a Pindo Palm, Butia capitata) occur near one another. Young Mule Palms usually grow at a rapid pace and, when established, can be expected to survive low temperatures to near 14F (-10C) or as low as 10F (-12C), depending on the individual tree and its unique inheritance. Although compact enough for small courtyard gardens, with age the Mule Palm assumes majestic proportions, and in clusters or pairs will produce gracefully curving trunks and lush crowns reminiscent of the Coconut. These specimens are unique and carefully prepared X Butiagrus nabonnandii ideal for avenues, group plantings, or any landscape purpose.
Culture: X Butiagrus nabonnandii thrives in sun or light shade and will tolerate drought. The trees exhibit hybrid vigor and tolerate a range of soil types from clay to sand. As with most palms, good drainage is most important. The trees grow well in coastal areas and is salt water tolerate and cold hardy.
Planted in Nassau County Extension Demonstration Garden