Bismarkia look alike for colder climates

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Many palm enthusiasts enjoy the color and stature of the Bismark palm because it is unique and striking in appearance. Unfortunately many palm growers live in regions too cold to grow them. I, myself live one zone too far north to grow this specimen so I try to find alternative palms to satisfy my Bismark craving. One solution is to grow palms that look similar or share the same characteristics as Bismarkia Nobilus . One such palm is Chamaerops Humilus Var. Argentea. This palm, although much smaller, has alike simularities-such as the silver, waxy, and blue tone of the frond. Other palms exist that resemble Bismark, but I do not have any experience with those. Gardeners growing similar palms could share their experience here and give us the closest alternative for a cooler climate. Which palms are most like Bismarkia? Perhaps Brahea Clara?

1y1urq.jpg

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I put 3 Brahea "clara" in the ground about a month ago. They are too small to tell if they look similar to Bizzy's but the color seems pretty nice even when small. Another possibility might be Sabal urseana. My urseana is green, but I have seen some that are pretty silvery.

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Many palm enthusiasts enjoy the color and stature of the Bismark palm because it is unique and striking in appearance. Unfortunately many palm growers live in regions too cold to grow them. I, myself live one zone too far north to grow this specimen so I try to find alternative palms to satisfy my Bismark craving. One solution is to grow palms that look similar or share the same characteristics as Bismarkia Nobilus . One such palm is Chamaerops Humilus Var. Argentea. This palm, although much smaller, has alike simularities-such as the silver, waxy, and blue tone of the frond. Other palms exist that resemble Bismark, but I do not have any experience with those. Gardeners growing similar palms could share their experience here and give us the closest alternative for a cooler climate. Which palms are most like Bismarkia? Perhaps Brahea Clara?

1y1urq.jpg

Just because a palm is silver doesn't make it a bismarckia substitute. Bismarckia are amazing because they're silver and enormous. The only cold hardy substitute that exists is a nice silver colored sabal uresana. A cerifera doesn't even come close.

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In other words, saying a cerifera is a substitute for a bismarckia is like saying a bicycle is a good substitute for a Harley.

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Sabal Uresana is the only large palm that is both silver and more hardy than Bismarkia. If you get the right strain of Bismarkia though it has proven to be almost as hardy as Washingtonia Robusta for me but this might not be true in all areas and hardiness does vary a great deal in this species. They are really amazing palms and it is hard to appreciate them fully unless you stand next to a large planting of them. Just breathtaking really.

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Brahea "Super Silver" can have a nice color though but it is a much smaller palm than Bismarkia but it does have the bonus of lacking the armament that many of the silver Brahea possess.

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Sabal Uresana is the only large palm that is both silver and more hardy than Bismarkia. If you get the right strain of Bismarkia though it has proven to be almost as hardy as Washingtonia Robusta for me but this might not be true in all areas and hardiness does vary a great deal in this species. They are really amazing palms and it is hard to appreciate them fully unless you stand next to a large planting of them. Just breathtaking really.

Well, the "almost" is the catch. I'd try to argue with that, but it's true that some bizzies have proven themselves in some pretty cold Florida gardens.

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I did not lose a single Bizmarkia this year, although some small ones had spear pulls and total defoliation. The jury is still out on them as far as I'm concerned. I did throw a tarp over my larger one during the worst of the worst day/nights and had virtually no damage. Some of the smaller ones were totally exposed and survived. You could argue that the growing point was below ground and that is what saved them, but they are pretty darn hardy IMO. I need to ride by my old house and see if the larger ones that I had planted there are still alive. I know those people did nothing to protect them.

All the Washingtonia's around town looked like they survived. Queens on the other hand look like they may all be dead. I would say Bizmarkia is more hardy than a queen but less hardy than a Washingtonia robusta...or maybe comparable to a robusta.

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I'm not saying argentae is a complete substitute. If you read my first post then you can see that I was referring to it's color, and not it's size. If you like the silver color of bismark then argentae is a good substitute for it's color. Sabal Uresana is not as nearly blue as bismark but it's size is closer.

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I was yanking your chain. I just thought it was funny how you compared a mouse to an elephant. I have a cerifera growing next to one of my bismarckia, as a result it's pretty much invisible. :)

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The most silver colored palms I've ever seen are the serenoa repens in southeast Florida. Some specimens are very nearly white!

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Well, is there any other palms similar to both size and color of a bismark? What about brahea Clara?

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Well, is there any other palms similar to both size and color of a bismark? What about brahea Clara?

You're a stubborn fella, several people keep telling you the answer - sabal uresana. They're just like bismarckia, they come in green, green-blue and in incredible silver colors, you just have to find the right strain. They're easily a USDA 8b palm if here is enough Summer heat.

If you don't mind not having a trunk but you want a leaf that's much closer to a bismarckia, then you need to get sabal tamaulipas.

Briefly, brahea are no substitute for bismarckia, however, they're great alternatives to copernicia, to which they are related to anyway. The sabal provides all the features of a bismarckia - enormous costa-palmate leaves along with stunning silver colors, but you have to select carefuly for the silver and blue. It's best to buy larger, more mature specimens, since the younger ones can morph from blue to green as adults.

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sabal tamaulipas:

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In my climate Sabal uresana is desperately slower than Bismarckia (at least I have this impression, since other factors could also be relevant). ... and what about a cold tolerant substitute for a green Bismarckia?

Edited by Phoenikakias
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Axel (post 14), "…brahea are no substitute for bismarckia, however, they're great alternatives to copernicia…"<----this excerpt reminded me of Eric's observation found in the thread, "Copernicia hospital in Central Florida," where he wrote in post 10, "It is the perfect replacement if you don't have room for Bismarckia." Maybe, it's like a game of Seven (or is it 6? IDK.) Degrees of Separation? Brahea would be two steps away. Winner winner chicken dinner….or is substitution more like the saying--- you can pick your friends and you can pick your nose but you can't pick your friend's nose? I mean, in the search for the beauty of a cold hardy blue palm, isn't close enough good enough? I could be very wrong about this.

BTW, I think the comparison of bicycles to Harleys seems accurate….when I was a little girl, my bicycle was a magnificent stallion named Buck, but you're right, never in a bazillion degrees of separation would I have considered him a Harley! :mrlooney: lol.

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Sabal tamaulipas....a friend gave me a small one. It seems to have a very dark blue/green color as opposed to silver of a Bizzy. That one in the picture is very nice.

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Axel (post 14), "…brahea are no substitute for bismarckia, however, they're great alternatives to copernicia…"<----this excerpt reminded me of Eric's observation found in the thread, "Copernicia hospital in Central Florida," where he wrote in post 10, "It is the perfect replacement if you don't have room for Bismarckia." Maybe, it's like a game of Seven (or is it 6? IDK.) Degrees of Separation? Brahea would be two steps away. Winner winner chicken dinner….or is substitution more like the saying--- you can pick your friends and you can pick your nose but you can't pick your friend's nose? I mean, in the search for the beauty of a cold hardy blue palm, isn't close enough good enough? I could be very wrong about this.

BTW, I think the comparison of bicycles to Harleys seems accurate….when I was a little girl, my bicycle was a magnificent stallion named Buck, but you're right, never in a bazillion degrees of separation would I have considered him a Harley! :mrlooney: lol.

Well, if we're talking room, then yes, copernicia and brahea are for smaller gardens, and a cerifera is a good choice for a condo. I suppose you could create a bonsai bismarckia with the right form of cerifera, especially if you cut off all the suckers and keep a clean trunk. :)

Some people say copernicia hospita is actually much prettier than a bismarckia, I tend to agree, same with a nice blue brahea berlianderli, the latter is rarely seen in cultivation.

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That's amazing…this morning while writing that post, I was thinking of a trimmed up C. cerifera and used as a "little Bizzie" accent for one of those outdoor miniature train and tracks displays (there's one at Rockledge gardens). Weird and wonderful!

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BTW, Axel, well now you've reminded me of wanting another palm…..a nice blue brahea berlianderli. (This one, :drool: so pretty)

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ArchAngeL, would a blue Brahea armata work for you? Very pretty, too! I remember reading an article written by PalmTalk'er PalmBob, where he said, "This species is one of the more cold harder palms in cultivation, tolerating temps into the mid teens with few problems." It'd be wonderful to find a beautiful substitute :wub2:

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Brahea armata are very nice. It might not like the humidity that you have though buddy, but it would be worth a try. Clara does handle humidity better, so that would also be an option. The Super Silver that I have has been a tough palm; though they show their silver coloration at a later age. They are like Uresana in that regard. There is allot of great advice here. If you have the room, you might want to try a bizzie; it could not hurt. You never know, David's have done well and I saw one in a garden in Charleston years ago. It might not be there today but it was surviving for sure. The big thing would be to decide how much room you have for a palm; bizmarkia are massive.

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BTW, Axel, well now you've reminded me of wanting another palm..a nice blue brahea berlianderli. (This one, :drool: so pretty)

You and me both! I've been drooling over this particular specimen for a while. I have several of these, hoping for the right form to develop to look like that one.

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BTW, Axel, well now you've reminded me of wanting another palm..a nice blue brahea berlianderli. (This one, :drool: so pretty)

You and me both! I've been drooling over this particular specimen for a while. I have several of these, hoping for the right form to develop to look like that one.

I have a baby B. dulcis blue form from Phil (JM), with the biggest hopes that it'll go blue. I've read that it is a synonym of B. berlandieri, but don't really know for sure. And I don't even know how to spell it correctly. However, I'm going to keep the hope that blue form B. dulcis and berlandieri really are the same (unless it proves otherwise), and plant little sparkly white flowers around it, just like the one in that photo :wub2: …. before I forget to mention it, I've read it can take zone 8A….could it go lower?

Palm Tree Man, I've read that a B. armata is growing not too far away from where I live……but don't know exactly where it is. Joe Alf has told me about it, too, but I still can't find it! No telling how many times I've passed by it because of being such a newbie! lol. I'll take a picture of it for everybody when I find it.

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Dulcis, berlianderli and bella have all been lumped together because they have identical inflorescence morphology. My personal conviction is that much of the dulcis complex diversity comes from natural cross breeding with decumbens. The latter grows right along side of dulcis and would also explain both the blue almost white forms of dulcis and the suckering form of dulcis.

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You guys are killing me with these jokes. Haha.

Anyways... I suppose Uresana is a good choice, too bad they don't sell them around here. I know that it is hardy here because I once had one for a few years. I lost it to fungus, it was just a youngster.

As far as planting bismarkia here, I suppose it's possible of it were under canopy, I tried a few outside once and they didn't last one winter. Probably because they were out in the open.

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