We Just Learned What Elephant Palms Look Like In Their Natural Environment

published Feb 24, 2019
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(Image credit: IKEA)

Have you ever seen an elephant palm plant? The plant has a few different nicknames, like the elephant foot palm or the ponytail palm, but its real name is actually Beaucarnea recurvata. That is a total mouthful.

The Beaucarnea recurvata is a species of plant in the Asparagaceae family. They are native to the states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and San Luis Potosí in eastern Mexico. Even though it is nicknamed after palm trees, it isn’t closely related to true palm trees (Arecaceae). As of late, it’s become popular in Europe and worldwide as a decorative plant. If you’ve ever seen a Beaucarnea recurvata in person, you’ve probably seen a smaller one in someone’s home. But did you know that they can actually grow quite large? In their natural environment, they can grow to around 15 feet tall.

Someone just posted on Reddit what one of these plants looks like when fully grown. (In case you’re not a big fan of Reddit, you might want to reconsider. Did you know there’s a subreddit just for succulents? Yeah, we’re going to have to look more into that.) On the r/succulents subreddit, user IMalwaysgrowing shared a photo of a Beaucarnea recurvata in its natural environment. They captioned the photo, “Some folks wanted to see a large ‘ponytail palm’ a.k.a. ‘elephant’s foot palm’ a.k.a. Beaucarnea recurvata… so, here you go (plastic chair included for size perspective).”

This photo helped people finally understand why Beaucarnea recurvata is also nicknamed elephant’s foot palm. When fully grown, this plant can easily be mistaken for a giant elephant’s foot!

Obviously, not everyone can have a real Beaucarnea recurvata inside their house or apartment. Who has that kind of space? If you think this is a beautiful plant but would prefer it in a much smaller dose, you can get one from IKEA for a great price. The retailer sells a 17 ¾” potted versions for just $9.99. For under two feet and $10, you can pretty much buy a bunch of these and put them in every room in your house if you wanted to.