Queen palms (Syagrus romanzoffiana) are often chosen because of their similarity, when mature, to the beautiful coco palms of Hawaii. They tolerate poor soil conditions and are generally frost hardy to about 20 degrees. They require little maintenance, usually only the removal of the lower fronds as needed.
Native to South America, these stately palms are fast growers. They greatly appreciate regular fertilization and require staking when young in high wind areas. Once established, they display a moderate tolerance of drought conditions.
Queen palms are a great choice when height is desired but there is limited root space. They are not invasive in our area, and unlike most palms, their roots do not swell. That characteristic makes them a good choice for planter boxes or near pipes.
These trees do flower, exhibiting long white blossoms that are both male and female. The female flowers produce a yellowish-orange fruit. The ripe fruit is edible; in some areas, it is used to supplement livestock feed.
It is easy to understand why queen palms are so popular. They are beautiful plants that adapt well to many conditions and can make any place look more like a tropical paradise.
• The Green Thumb is a column by Tracy’s master gardeners. University of California-certified master gardeners are available to answer gardening questions from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 953-6112 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions for Heather Hamilton can be sent to email@example.com.