Needle Palm is found in the southern half of Alabama;
occurring on high floodplains and terraces along rivers and streams,
on moist hardwood slopes, in ravines, and around caves. Needle
Palm is a slow growing species with a short trunk. The trunk
may reach a height of 6-8 feet in old individuals. Several individuals
often grow from a single trunk. The trunk is covered in characteristic
black needle-like spines that originate between the leaves.
The spines are up to 10 inches in length with a sharp tip; aiding
in the protection of new leaves and flowers. Needle Palm is a
fan palm with broad leaves on a long stalk that are
up to six feet long. The leaves are divided into segments of
The leaves are deep green above and silvery white below;
thick and evergreen, and persist for 2-3 years or longer. Needle
Palm is dioecious (separate male and female plants).
The flowers are produced in a short inflorescence. A spathe
(bract) encloses the developing flower bundle. The inflorescence
is very short and is often hidden by fallen leaves and old fronds.
The flowers are yellowish green; sometimes tinged with purple
occurring in June and July.
Fruit is a brown or reddish drupe with a wooly outer covering.