Foxtail palm: Classification, Characteristics, and, Insect Problems

Foxtail palm: Classification, Characteristics, and, Insect Problems


Wodyetia bifurcata (Foxtail palm)  A member of the Arecaceae, or palm family, The leaflets are deep green with a silvery underside and are approximately 6 inches long and 2 inches wide. The species of Foxtail palms mature at roughly 12 years of age and are then able to produce inflorescences, earning them the honorary name “Wodyeti” in honour of an Australian aborigine. They were the last member of his tribe to be familiar with the local flora and fauna, as well as the inflorescence that grows at the base of the crownshaft.

The epithet bifurcata is Latin for “bifurcate” which means “bears white blooms.” Concerning the plant’s leaves, both male and female flowers are “twice divided.” The plant is capable of self-fertilization, making it the only species in its genus that can be classified as monoecious. It is native to Australia.


There are only one species of solitary palm in the genus Wodyetia. It only grows at elevations up to 1200 feet in northeastern Australia’s monsoon and rocky scrubland. Early in this century, South Florida began to use it frequently. It was a competitive replacement for the royal palm due to its quick growth and attractive appearance (Roystonea regia). In tropical and subtropical regions, the foxtail palm is a popular plant for landscaping.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Arecales

Family: Arecaceae

Genus: Wodyetia

Species: W. bifurcate

Binomial name: Wodyetia bifurcata


A single-stemmed tree growing to a height of 15 m, Wodyetia bifurcata, Family Arecaceae, is also referred to as the Foxtail Palm. The 3.2 m long leaves have an arching shape and resemble plumes. The leaflets are truncate at the tip and measure around 70 cm long. The inflorescence, or flower cluster, develops to a length of 1 m below the crown and has creamy-green blooms. Fruits are ovoid, orange-red, and up to 6 cm long. They are also terminated by a prominent stigma remnant. This species resembles the Black Palm (Normanbya normanbyi), which grows south of Cooktown (Tucker, 1988), but is distinct from it due to the colour of its leaflets and its unique leaflet arrangement. Black Palm leaflets, are dark green above and white below, while Foxtail Palm leaflets are pale green. (Landsberg & Clarkson, 2004).


Most mature foxtail palms in South Florida have 20 to 30-foot tall trunks. With conspicuous, widely spaced leaf scar rings on the younger upper portion and fading on the lower older surface, it is grey and columnar. The trunk’s base is frequently flared and typically measures 12 to 16 inches in diameter. Some palms develop roots and fissures in the trunk pseudobark closest to the ground. Sometimes, these “root initials” are unable to enter the soil, preventing them from developing into full-fledged roots.

Foxtail Palm Plant


The trunk is just above the crownshaft. It is 3 to 4 feet long, pale green, waxy, and tapered from the bottom to the top. It safeguards the meristem or bud that generates new embryonic leaves, flowers, and trunk tissue.


The leaf has an arched shape and appears dark green. A healthy crown has 8 to 12 leaves, each measuring 10 to 12 feet in length. The crown measures 14–20 feet in width. The leaf is attached to a short, 6 to 12-inch long, white green petiole that is heavily covered with cinnamon-colored scurf along the top and lower rachis. The pinnately compound leaf is made up of several leaflets that are connected at the base of the rachis but grow in various directions. It is one of the family’s most plume-like leaves as a result, giving the leaf its popular name. Infrequent marginal reins can be seen around the base of the leaf. The leaf spear is the most recent unopened leaf.

Flowers and Fruits

It is a monoecious species. On the same palm and inflorescence, male and female flowers are produced. Initially, the inflorescence is enclosed within a bract that is located at the top of the trunk, directly behind the crownshaft. The bract is 12 to 18 inches long, 8 inches wide, and light to medium green in colour. A large panicle with many white or yellowish green blooms makes up the inflorescence. Approximately one year is needed for flowers to grow into fruits or drupes. The 2-inch-long, oblate spheroidal, deep orange to scarlet drupes of maturity have an oblate form. The fruit stalks and flowers are typically between three and four feet long.

Insect Problems

On the leaflets of palm trees, sucking insects like mealybugs and whiteflies can occasionally be seen. Typically, their existence necessitates no insecticidal measures. Rugose whirling whiteflies have not caused any problems. The trunks have been found to contain banana moth larvae and rotting sugar cane borer grubs.

Ambrosia beetles

Ambrosia beetles grow and develop uniquely from other beetles. The adult female constructs a brood chamber in the trunk and conducts all tunnelling. Certain fungi, such as Ambrosiella spp., with which they have a mutualistic connection, are always carried by the beetles into the brood chamber. Infested wood is colonised by fungus, which is then consumed by larvae. Ambrosia beetles target stressed, weakened, wounded, or recently deceased palms, trees, and shrubs. On the bottom section of the trunk, stray wood shavings occasionally resemble straws. They result from adult female beetles making their way through the trunk to emerge. After that, on the trunk near the tiny exit holes, the migratory beetles left, and dark blotches from inner sap flow become visible. It is still unknown whether the palm is declining or whether the ambrosia beetles are drawing them to a dying palm.

Disease Problems

Leaf spots

There are frequently noticeable stains and lesions on the palm leaflets and rachis, which may have primary or secondary causes. They might be brought on by environmental or societal factors such as excessive leaf wetting, high pH, iron and potassium insufficiency, compacted soils, chilly temperatures, and underdeveloped root systems. The latter may be related to palms that are planted excessively deeply or in pots. Fungi including Anthracnose (Colletotrichum), Diplodia, Exserohilum, Petalotiopsis, and Phomopsis have been linked to leaf spots and leaf death. The only way to differentiate one fungus from another is through laboratory analysis. Even yet, it may be challenging to recover from the impacts of diseases, particularly if any underlying casual conditions are not adequately treated.

Ganoderma butt rot

Ganoderma butt rot, which is brought on by Ganoderma zonatum, can harm foxtail palms. The palm will finally die if it is afflicted. The degradation of the wood in the lower, inner region of the trunk by the fungus causes illness signs to emerge from older leaves up. As the water supply to the canopy is diminished, leaves begin to darken and droop to the trunk. The obvious presence of conks, the fruiting bodies of the fungus that causes the disease, at the base of the trunk is sure evidence of the condition. Both the contaminated trunk and the affected palms need to be eliminated. Either the stump should be removed by pulling it out or by grounding it out. All visible conks should be gathered and disposed of before disposal. If affected palms are left standing, they could collapse. It is advised to replant with a broad-leaved tree or shrub rather than another palm species if Ganoderma has been identified in a landscaping area. There are no palm species that are thought to be immune to the infection.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How tall will a foxtail palm get?

Ans: A single-stemmed tree growing to a height of 15 m,

Question: How fast do foxtail palm trees grow?

Ans: The species of Foxtail palms mature at roughly 12 years of age and are then able to produce inflorescences, earning them the honorary name “Wodyeti” in honour of an Australian aborigine. It only grows at elevations up to 1200 feet in northeastern Australia’s monsoon and rocky scrubland.

Question: How much space does a foxtail palm need?

Ans: Each tree should be planted at least 8 feet from a home.

Question: Do foxtail palms have deep roots?

Ans: Yes

Question: Do foxtail palms need a lot of water?

Ans: No, It is drought resistant plant

Question: Do foxtail palms grow fast?

Ans: Yes

Question: Are foxtail palms poisonous to dogs?

Ans: Yes

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *