Brahea Mart.
  • Hist. Nat. Palm. 3: 243 (1838) 

Notes: Distribution: Mexico to C. America

General Description

Moderate, mostly solitary, rarely clustered, armed or unarmed, pleonanthic, hermaphroditic palms. Stem clothed with persistent leaf sheaths, in age becoming bare. Leaves induplicate, shortly costapalmate, marcescent; sheath becoming fibrous, persistent, eventually splitting basally; petiole short or long, concave, flattened, or channelled adaxially, rounded abaxially, margins unarmed or armed with sparse to dense, small or large teeth, sometimes floccose; adaxial hastula triangular to irregular, thin, membranous, at length fibrous, sometimes large, abaxial hastula a very low ridge or scarcely developed; blade nearly orbicular, regularly divided nearly to the middle or beyond into single-fold, stiff or flexible segments, deeply bifid at the apex, interfold filaments often present, surfaces glabrous, waxy or covered in caducous, floccose indumentum, midribs prominent, other veins fine, ± equal and close together giving a striate appearance, transverse veinlets inconspicuous, sometimes evident abaxially. Inflorescences solitary, interfoliar, nearly equalling or exceeding the leaves, erect or curving, branched to 4 orders; peduncle slender, short to medium; prophyll 2-keeled, closely sheathing, tubular, glabrous (?always), splitting irregularly abaxially; peduncular bracts 0–several, like the prophyll but single-keeled, glabrous or floccose; rachis much longer than peduncle; first-order branches distant, apparently lacking prophylls; subsequent bracts triangular, membranous, very inconspicuous; rachillae crowded, numerous, all branches and rachillae covered in a pale dense felt or deep pile of hairs. Flowers spirally arranged, solitary or in cincinni of 2–3, each subtended by a small bract, buds sometimes obscured by hairs until anthesis; sepals 3, distinct, imbricate, margins minutely toothed (?always); petals 3, united basally in a tube as long as the sepals, briefly imbricate, valvate apically, shallowly to deeply furrowed adaxially; stamens 6, borne at the mouth of the corolla tube, filaments connate into a 6-lobed ring, lobes triangular, abruptly narrowed at tips, anthers broadly elliptic to nearly oblong, dorsifixed, ± versatile, latrorse; carpels 3, follicular, united by the styles, ovule basal, erect, anatropous. Pollen ellipsoidal, slightly to extremely asymmetric; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine tectate, finely perforate, perforate and micro-channelled, or perforate-rugulate, aperture margin slightly finer; infratectum columellate; longest axis 29–51 µm [4/10]. Fruit usually developing from 1 carpel, globose or ovoid, dark blue to black at maturity, abortive carpels basal, stigmatic remains apical; epicarp smooth, mesocarp fleshy, endocarp crustaceous. Seed basally or subbasally attached, globose or ellipsoidal, endosperm homogeneous, very shallowly to deeply penetrated by a smooth intrusion of seed coat; embryo subbasal to lateral. Germination remote-ligular; eophyll entire. Cytology: 2n = 36.

Diagnostic Description

Mostly solitary hermaphroditic fan palms of Mexico and Guatemala, occurring usually on limestone in dry areas, the leaves often glaucous.


Leaf (Tomlinson 1961), roots (Seubert 1997), floral (Morrow 1965).


On limestone slopes and outcrops in dry areas.


About 10 species in Baja California, Guadalupe Island, Mexico and Guatemala.


The leaves are used for thatch and as a source of fibre. Fruits of some species are edible. Attractive ornamentals for drier areas.

Common Names

Hesper palms, Guadalupe palms, rock palm, sweet brahea palm (Brahea edulis).

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Northern America Mexico Mexican Pacific Is.
  • Mexico Central
  • Mexico Gulf
  • Mexico Northeast
  • Mexico Northwest
  • Mexico Southeast (Doubtful)
  • Mexico Southwest
  • Southern America Central America Belize
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua


  • 1 J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008
  • 2 Govaerts, R. & Dransfield, J. (2005). World Checklist of Palms: 1-223. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • 3 Govaerts, R. (1996). World Checklist of Seed Plants 2(1, 2): 1-492. Continental Publishing, Deurne.

 Information From

Palmweb - Palms of the World Online
Palmweb 2011. Palmweb: Palms of the World Online. Published on the internet Accessed on 21/04/2013
  • A Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
  • B
eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from
  • C Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
WCSP 2014. 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; Retrieved 2011 onwards
  • D See You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement.