Palm Trees in ABQ - Questions For All Locals

abqpalms(Albuquerque, NM)August 24, 2005

Hi Albuquerquians -

I am new to this forum but have been reading posts here for about a year. I moved to ABQ about 1.5 yrs ago from a cold climate (Milwaukee, WI). I really enjoy palm trees (as evident by the user name) and have seen many really nice ones around ABQ, but wonder a great deal why they haven't caught on more here.

I realize the general response would tend to be the climate - I realize that freezes occur much, much more readily and often here than they do in places like Tucson due to elevation.

However, while the climate would mean species like date palms couldn't hack it here, I wonder why people do not readily plant Windmill palms and even W. Robustas?

I have seen beautiful examples of both in yards all around Albuquerque. There are many Windmill palms in various locations all over ABQ - 2 15-footers that I've been told have been in a yard for years right off of Academy and Carruthers in the NE Heights (not west or south exposure either), 2 15-footers in a yard on San Mateo and Commanche (also told they've been there for years), and many, many other mid-sized ones in yards in the NE Heights and the West Mesa.

Also, I know Robustas (Mexican Fans) are a little more high maintenance here due to cold resistance, but they - at least I think - are totally doable with some care. In fact, there is a newer house in the Far NE Heights near Eubank and Paseo Del Norte that has had some Robustas in their front yard with no protection for at least the two years I've been here. I have watched them closely and in winter, their fronds died largely off, but quickly in spring they grew wonderfully large, beautiful green fronds and appear to be thriving quite well again, and this was with no real protection.

I myself had initially planted 1 Mexican Fan and 3 Windmills in my yard, and they all are doing quite well. The Robusta was a bit shaky in the winter (it was a young one still), but came threw like gangbusters in the spring. (I know there is a house off of Commanche just east of Wyoming with tons of beautiful mid-sized / young Windmills and Fans).

I apologize for rambling a bit, but I just would really like others' input who have lived here for quite some time more as to why more people here do not utilize cold hardy palms? I love big yuccas, but I just feel strongly that people here think Albuquerque - especially away from the river - is colder than it really is.

In El Paso, they've got just a tremendous palm tree assortment all over - is it really THAT much colder in ABQ?

Sorry this is so long....I'd really love to hear people's thoughts!

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I wish there were more palms in ABQ too. I think part of the problem is that your average person believes all palms are strictly "tropical" plants, and therefore could never survive our high elevation, cold winter semi-arid climate. This of course is true if someone tried to plant a coconut palm, but there are so many hardly palms that would do well here. I just think that palm trees have never been a part of the landscaping palette in town, so people have a hard time seriously considering them as an option. Also, I think when someone does take a chance and plant a palm tree, they see the dead fronds during the winter and assume it has died, so they rip out the plant and discard it. I've seen this happen in a couple of locations.

T. fortunei is a sure bet for ABQ, but as far as the Washingtonias go, W. filifera is actually a better choice for our cold winters. It has a slightly better tolerance for frost than W. robusta. W. filifera seems to be much harder to find in nurseries though. I think some of the Sabal species would do very well here too, but these also seem to be extremely hard to find for purchase. Another good cold hardy palm is Chamaerops humilis.

Like El Paso, Las Cruces has a fair amount of palms (including P. dactylifera and P. canariensis), as does Deming, Alamogordo, Hatch and T or C. The temps down there average a little warmer than ABQ, but not that much. Maybe over time more people will embrace palms here. I sure hope so.



    Bookmark   August 25, 2005 at 3:59PM
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abqpalms(Albuquerque, NM)

Hi Cactus Dude -

Just a few more thoughts to piggyback off of your response....

Just got back from a stay in El Paso. I tend to go down to EP a number of times a year. At any event, if you've gone there regularly, I won't bore you with tons of details (just a few tons), but what a beautiful city (so underrated in my opinion, you never hear about El Paso anywhere) if you like palms, cactus, etc.

El Paso has ENORMOUS palm trees all over the place....houses typically will have at least one or two, somewhat like palm yuccas in ABQ, and many have so many beautiful palms. And these are not the T. Fortunei) either, rather beautiful (and many times huge) Robustas and Filiferas. They even have some even more "tropical" palms in some yards (you'll even find sago 'palms' growing in yards). Just such a beautiful landscaping.

Joshua trees in many places, HUGE octillo....just such a beautiful landscaping.

I even found 2.5 blocks away from one of my inlaws' house a yard with 2 15-foot saguaro cactus growing out in the front yard - totally unprotected. One actually had multiple arms. (Anyone familiar with El Paso, this yard isn't terribly far away from I-10 and Yarborough).

At any event, the purpose of my babblings....

I have talked to seeming experts in local nurseries here when buying T. Fortunei for my yard, and they act as though growing palm trees in Albuquerque is about as easy as growing them in Minneapolis or something, and they act like it is foolish to even try.

And I realize El Paso is warmer than us, but as Cactus Dude said, it isn't THAT much warmer - I believe ABQ in Heights locales is a solid zone 7 or even possibly 7b, and El Paso is an 8...a difference, but....our average low at the coldest is 24 (and, like most SW cities, that number isn't hit terribly much anymore even), and El Paso 29....5 degrees sure, but still below freezing.

If El Pasoans and their zone 8 can openly and easily grow palm trees - many varieties that are big, beautiful, and thriving - as easily as Albuquerquians grow cholla, and they can pretty easily whip out big octillo, Joshua trees, and even a few thriving big saguaros thrown in, surely we in Albuquerque could figure out a way to landscape a bit more openly with T. Fortunei or least I would think! But unlike Cactus Dude's expert advice (and my peon thoughts), it seems most people I've talked to in nurseries or even observed in this forum, again, act like growing some of these great trees down here is like trying to grow them in Green Bay, WI!

Anyway, I guess I am just babbling a bit, but to me, it just doesn't add up to why El Paso is so diverse and wonderful, and the best we can supposedly do up here is some cow tongue and palm yuccas (as beautiful as both of those are). El Paso is a bit warmer, but it isn't Phoenix, Las Vegas, or even Tucson!

--ABQ Palms
(a frustrated ABQ-palm-tree advocate!)

    Bookmark   September 8, 2005 at 10:15PM
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Hi ABQ Palms

My uncle lives in EP, and you're right, El Pasoans are much more willing to experiment with palms and xeric plants. I've seen a few palo verdes in El Paso, as well as saguaros, mexican bird of paradise, fan palms, date palms, indian fig prickly pear, jojoba, bougainvillea and even some queen palms, although those seem to suffer more in the winter.

I know what you mean about the prevailing negative attitude about palms at many local nurseries. Unfortunately, palms just seem so exotic to many people, they think they can't possibly grow here. And those that want to try are discouraged by people they figure know what they are talking about.

Also, I think that since palms require on average a little more attention in our winters than your average plant found in ABQ landscapes, people probably prefer to plant a juniper or pyracantha or something, and not have to do any extra work.

I've noticed some more adventurous landscapes around town, so hopefully this is a trend that will continue to catch on.


    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 10:45AM
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From what I can tell here in Las Cruces... though palms can survive perfectly well, most of the species planted here have a lot of leaf die-back over the winter and just look bad for a lot of the year. I know that, personally, I'd much rather plant something like a yucca, ocotillo, etc., that'll do well in the climate without any work than plant something like a palm that'll take some work, always look sub-par, and have a pretty high chance of getting killed off if we have a cold winter. Sure you can do it, but you're getting out on the downward slope of the cost-benefit curve here in Las Cruces, and are a good way down that slope by the time you get up to Albuquerque.

Patrick Alexander

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 8:35PM
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Some palms for the colder valley (probably more out there):
+ Trachycarpus fortunei, T. takil (if it can be found!)
+ Sabal minor
+ Rhapidiophyllum hystrix
An additional palm for the milder heights/west mesa:
+ Washingtonia filifera (hot spot)

Probably just too much duration of cold most winters, plus extreme cold every 20-30 years, for Phoenix spp., Sabal palmetto, etc. to grow at all in Abq. But we have plenty of options compared to those in the cold desert areas (below 32F avg mean for coldest month, like Santa Fe, Taos or Farmington). So, no big deal.

Don't forget the tree yuccas, most of which offer a similar effect but need less water and humidity (think of them as high desert palms, as they are also monocots):
+ Yucca elata (only tree yucca native to Abq)
+ Y. rostrata
+ Y. rigida
+ Y. decipiens
+ Y. schottii
+ Y. thompsoniana
+ Y. faxoniana (all over)
+ Y. torreyi
+ Y. recurvifolia (a southeastern yucca, so likes more water)
+ Y. aloifolia (a southern yucca, extra water in order)
+ Y. brevifolia (many of these here)

BTW, many are being grown from seed instead of wild collected, though not many are available that way in specimen sizes, except Y. rostrata---and they are pricey. But 5 gallon plants grow fast, so who cares?

If weather records were kept for 30-50 years (or more) in many locations across metro Abq, I would not be surprised to see most of the area between I-25 and Eubank, and Central and Academy come out as solid USDA Zone 8, though most parts of the valley from Bernalillo to Belen come out 6.

Combined with the usual dry winters and sunshine, the amount of plants that would grow well here if planted would look much like a similar list in Las Cruces, though our greater number of hours of cold and lesser hours of heat would set us apart from them a LITTLE.

So, you are right on about the badly informed climate information and perceptions many state here in Abq---they do make it look like a much colder and wetter place than we are (you would think the polar icecap was near Placitas by what such folks say!) I am shocked so many know so little, but people parrot too much of others---garbage in, garbage out.

A friend refers to such people as ARCTICISTS...they often think aspens and bluegrass are the way here, and think nothing of using photinia and spruce, but they freak out about using Creosote Bush (still present on Kirtland AFB and Isleta Pueblo, once reported along Tramway pre-1980's), so that should tell you something!

When one learns not only actual climate data for different places, plus one learns the native and cultivated flora that thrives here, Albuquerque is simply a cooler version of Las Cruces or even El Paso, than the latter are like Phoenix, or the former is like Santa Fe.

It is not just cold, but it is the way it gets cold, it is heat, the way it gets hot, it is the duration of certain temperatures, moisture (or lack thereof), and even soils.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2005 at 1:52AM
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Well, the comparative data are out there. The easiest way to get data comparing Albuquerque to El Paso is through seasonal averages for the Alququerque airport:

Seasonal averages for the El Paso airport:

From what I can tell, the difference between El Paso & Las Cruces is pretty minimal (we're only 40-some miles apart, after all). At the respective airports, though, wunderground is showing about a 10-degree lower winter temperature, in both day highs & night lows, between El Paso & Albuquerque. Seems like a fairly significant difference to me, though I wouldn't exactly call Albuqerque "arctic". A simple look around the two areas also suggests rather different ecology which is probably largely influenced by climate...

Also worth mentioning that, by the wunderground averages, Albuquerque is almost exactly intermediate between El Paso & Denver in winter temps.

Patrick Alexander

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 12:22PM
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More interesting comparisons from online weather data:

The winter temperature difference between Santa Fe & Albuquerque is about 1/2 of the difference bewteen Albuquerque & El Paso.

The winter temperature difference between El Paso & Phoenix is about equal to the difference between El Paso & Albuquerque.

So I'd have to say I doubt the statement that:

"When one learns not only actual climate data for different places, plus one learns the native and cultivated flora that thrives here, Albuquerque is simply a cooler version of Las Cruces or even El Paso, than the latter are like Phoenix, or the former is like Santa Fe."

Since in terms of winter temperature, El Paso is about as similar to Phoenix as it is to Albuquerque, and Albuquerque is much more similar to Santa Fe than it is to El Paso.

Patrick Alexander

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 7:54PM
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renopalms(z7a/Reno, NV)

Hey ABQPalms,

I read your comments and couldn't help but comment. You have taken the words right out of my mouth. I run a small business in Reno, NV that does nothing but work with cold-hardy palms. I have been growing Windmill Palms here now for 5 years and have some beautiful specimens. But I completely understand what you are talking about. Reno is a 1/2 zone colder than Albuquerque, but we have been quite mild for a long time. We rarely go below Zero, and when we do it is only for a short time. My customers always start off with the same comment about how "Palms don't live here". Right away I have them pick up a copy of "Palms Won't Grow here and other Myths". After reading this book they become quite confident in their ability to grow the palms. But it usually takes a good winter for everyone to really believe that the Palms can make it through the winter. And like Cactus Dude said, hopefully over time people will adopt these palms into their gardens. I get calls from New York, Albuquerque, Dallas, and parts of Oregon all the time asking how to grow palms in their region. It is only a matter of time before the beauty of these palms take over the non-believers.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 9:44PM
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abqpalms(Albuquerque, NM)

Folks - Thanks so very much for all of the feedback; this has really turned into a highly interested threat for me!

Your knowledge of Albuquerque, its growing climate, and items such as palms is very enlightening (in this and other posts) - I really appreciate your thoughts and insights...they are very beneficial (and give me similar thoughts, that the Heights areas of ABQ are closer to an "8" than a "6" for sure).

*paalexan: Thank you for all of the wonderful comparison data. I guess I wish ABQ were a bit closer to El Paso than it is to Denver instead of being halfway in between, but I guess wishes are somewhat different than reality! :)

*renopalms: I share your pain and frustrations for sure. I am of the camp that any zone at 7 and higher should push plants. I really think 7 and up is worth it. They really can really make your area unique and beautiful in different ways to much of the country.

I have a number of examples - probably 30 now (and growing) - of big, beautiful palms (generally Windmills and W. Filiferas and a few Robustas) growing all over the city of Albuquerque. None get terribly burnt in the winter it doesn't seem (at least the Windmills don't, and neither do the Filiferas and even Robustas if given at least just a general amount of protection), so despite the "logical" data, in the end, I just see so many thriving, healthy palms all over the place (and even if they do get a bit burnt in Dec.-Feb. they look great by April again) that I find it a shame folks do not try them much more.

I almost think ABQ is an especially hard city to "evaluate" from a growing perspective, because the growing seasons in the Heights (West and East) and the Valley/Foothills is just so widely and drastically different.

Also, I think Albuquerque is just warmer now than the trends that encompass 30, 50, or 100 years of data. Alot due to just the "city growth heat" that is happening here. For instance, when I moved here, people stated wholeheartedly up and down that we'd get a freeze or two at the beginning of October, and this year (and I believe last too), it will be into November before we get at that 32-degree mark. At least in the Heights.

Having said all of that, I recently witnessed a housing development which has been in place for about a year and a half near Corrales, which is obviously one of the cooler spots of ABQ (right by the river in that valley). And in total, they have probably 20-to-25 large, tall Washingtonias growing and doing just fine. And that is in the coldest region - or one of - in the city! And it just looks so beautiful. (They also have many Windmills). And these trees - at least some of them - are not especially protected.

I agree with the comment about the yucca trees being similar to a high desert palm tree. I like many of them as well. But I also really enjoy diversity, and that is what this city - which is such an incredible beautiful city in its landscape otherwise - is missing alot of. Palms - when done right here and granted they take much work compared to Phoenix, El Paso, etc. - are worth it.

I guess my final thoughts - at least for now - is that in El Paso, the "books" would state that no way could a saguaro grow there successfully. Yet, I've no seen in a few yards in EP 15-foot tall saguaros - many totally unprotected - thriving, old, and growing.

If EPasoans can defy the conventional wisdom and grow saguaros, I just feel that folks could be surprised how good of a chance they could have of growing a few species of palms here if they gave it a shot!

Thanks again so much for all input thus far - fascinating reading!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 1:35PM
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One thing worth mentioning with saguaros in El Paso--just because they're old doesn't mean they've been here long! They're apparently all shipped in as large specimens, and basically survive for a decade or so until they get wiped out by a freeze.

I guess in general I find it much more rewarding to see plants from the area that thrive without care than to see an approach to landscaping that's based on trying to pretend you're somewhere else, as if Reno, Albuquerque, & El Paso were just the poor stepchildren of southern California rather than being great places in their own right.

Patrick Alexander

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 2:49PM
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adp_abq(7b NM)

Ah. zone denial is strong here. I'd like a fishook barrel cactus outside but it probably won't last long term. You guys really need to move to the middle/low desert.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 4:38PM
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SteveNMZ8a(Z8a NM)

El Paso is somewhat of an anomaly in Zone 8, due to a combo of urban heat island effect and south facing slope. Even tho physically close to LC and in the same USDA zone, EP has on average 30 days fewer below 32F than LC. Plant wise EP probably functions as an 8b USDA zone. The best indicator of this is the presence of old phoenix palms, both canariensis and dactylifera, which are relatively common in Central, Sunset Heights and Kern Place. Some of these veterans survived the record freeze of 1962, (100 hrs below 32F and min of -8F with multiple subzero nights) and are probably approaching 60-70 years in age. There are none this age in Las Cruces, altho they can persist for many years. Bougainvillea and bottlebrush can attain decent size in EP as well if planted on a hot wall. It is however much more likely to see these indicator plants on slopes and not the valley floor.
Daytime temps are much higher in the winter in El Paso than in Alb even tho the nights may be similar.. Ive always considered El Paso to be midway between Alb and Tucson climate wise. In winter the temp differential is about 6-7F, in summer only 2-3F. The 1990s have been warm....Alb had severe prolonged freezes in 1990, 1976, and 1971 (3 consecutive nights below -10 F!). This would be dangerous to any exposed palm without protection. ThatÂs the reason for the "you cant grow that here" attitude - and why the nurseries shy away from them (even in Las Cruces, palm capital of New Mexico). And quercus is right on - there are so many more yuccas, agaves, cactus and other xerics to try why waste money on marginal stuff?

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 9:59PM
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Steve--interesting what you mention about El Paso! I'd been assuming El Paso & Las Cruces were nearly identical, given that I rarely see differences of more than a degree or two between forecast temperatures for EP & LC. But a more significant difference, especially in night minima, would explain other things, too, like the much greater abundance of warm-desert spring ephemerals around the Franklins as compared to the Cruces area...

Patrick Alexander

    Bookmark   October 23, 2005 at 4:42PM
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Glad Steve said what he did about EP---I have heard about '62, just like '71 in Abq. I have an interesting comparison on Dallas and Albq on an under-construction part of my website at

Patrick and all: now for some info overload, though I have seen Patrick's NPSNM listserv posts, and his NMSU website indicates major scientific background. First, that is good data you are sharing, and it tells part of the story about palms, olives, etc. in Albuquerque vs. El Paso or Las Cruces. Also, check out the Western Regional Climate Center (but no Texas data there)

I also have seen that relationship between Denver-Albuquerque-EP, ditto Santa Fe-Abq-Tucson. Comparing with Denver and having lived in Denver, they are less cold than many think; it is far from the Rocky Mtn climate considered by many. Much of metro Denver is high plains steppe w/ very warm summers, wet and even snowy springs, and wickedly variable, but often sunny winters---Denver is the same latitude as Philly and central Illinois, so I guess that makes it less cold than the otherwise similar Billings or Casper. Over many years, Panayoti Keladis and Dan Johnson at the Denver Botanic Gardens (and other people) have proven to easily grow many plants formerly not understood.

As far as Abq, I said we are a "cooler version of Las Cruces"; not "the same as". I think that is accurate in many ways, due to 200+ miles and 1200' of elevation. I think of Albuquerque as the uppermost EDGE of the Chihuahuan Desert region, with solid influences of the Colo Plateau/Navajoan and the Southern Plains; Las Cruces (and esp. El Paso) are towards the CORE of the same C.D., and also further south and lower in elevation, with less outside influences. Years ago Sunset tried to seperate El Paso from Albuquerque in their plant climate zone system, but it never stuck, and they probably created their zones from too much of a coastal California paradigm to work elsewhere.

I am curious: where you have gone in Abq's built and natural areas, and what do you see as the major ecological differences? When I am at Aguirre Springs or Fillmore Canyon, it reminds me much of the foothills where I live (5700'), just more diverse. Many native plants common in Las Cruces are also native to Abq, but they are often not as common (Parthenium, Aloysia, Chilopsis, Baileya, etc). And vice-versa, but LC has more species diversity (you're much closer to the core).

In the cultivated landscape, the "northern" plants that even do well in Santa Fe can fail miserably in Abq, while many of their natives do well. But almost all the plants that grow well in Las Cruces often grow as well in Albuquerque, but freeze in Santa Fe. Creosotes and mesquite reseed here, not spruces and ponderosas---they just die when the water is turned off.

I find that the average temp of the coldest month relates much to soil temperatures...the 32F mark really divides places like Santa Fe/Denver from Abq/Socorro, and again places like El Paso from Phoenix. Think broadleaf evergreens in the former and commercial citrus production in the latter. I also consider extremes of temperature / precip, as well as number of nights and hours below and above freezing, 90F, etc. Plus, the vegetation that grows natively (or at least what was native before urbanization) and in cultivation-much to be learned there. And don't forget daily and long-term variability of temperature, which seperates Denver and Santa Fe, or the whole Rio Grande valley from places like the Sonoran Desert. Some of that important info. is not noted statistically, though.

As far as climate, it often changes in major steps and not always along even gradients of temperature, except in a smaller area. That is often due to breaks in physiography---just compare the east and west sides of the mountains in greater Albuquerque (we are protected by most extremes and cold air; the east side is not too sheleterd), or Albuquerque to Santa Fe (we are in a basin; they are on a plateau 2000' above our valley) That is where cultivated plants with a decent track record (over 10-20 years) are especially useful; native plant stands are really subject to urbanization, soils, and where the original seed has moved in from.

I mentioned "arcticist" due to the overemphasis on cold. Most people exaggerate Albuquerque to be much colder than it is (see the first post of newcomer) and they exaggerate Las Cruces and El Paso the other way. They ask "can it handle the cold" for here, but another question for Las Cruces---a more useful way is to apply the same questions on plant factors to each place. We do not need unfounded artificial limitations; the natural limitations are enough and what we should follow.

What would be useful are some lists of what grows in nature and in cultivation successfully in different places. That would reveal that Albuquerque has more of a connection horticulturally and climatically with Las Cruces than, say, Denver or even Santa Fe. (I grew up in Denver, so that might be why I live in the more benign climate of Albq---while I miss their occasional 75F in mid-winter, I do not miss shovelling their snow a day later!)

When I complete some lists of plants and climatic comparisons, I will post them on my website and alert you all.

Anyway, that is more than enough for an hour over a cold beer, so I will stop!! I imagine some of us would enjoy meeting up, seeing the others' gardens, or even putting on some boxing gloves (ha ha!)

    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 4:00PM
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I really like your website. I haven't had much time to look at it, but I found "Unusual Plant Locations: Abq Area" really cool. I also have a list of unusual plant locations around town, so I'd be happy to share them with you.


    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 5:37PM
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I might have to come back & respond more thoroughly, but for now I'll just mention a few things. First, people seem to vary a lot in how they want to define the Chihuahuan Desert. I tend more to think of Las Cruces as being at just about the northernmost edge of the Chihuahuan Desert (for instance, Agave lechuguilla, often considered an "indicator species" for the Chihuahuan, only gets as far north as A Mt.), but I've seen other maps that'd call ABQ the northern edge, etc. Things are complicated by anthropogenic modification... e.g., if you think of creosote as being a Chihuahuan plant, the fact that its current range in NM was almost entirely grassland prior to the 1890's or so confuses the issue a lot.

Second, when it comes to comparing Aguirre & the foothills of the Sandias with regard to Chihuahuan-desert-ness... well, I haven't spent any time in the Sandias, so I can't make the comparison that well. I did spend a day on the east side of the Manzanos, though, and that should be at least somewhat similar, I guess... In any case, the stuff around Aguirre (e.g., most of the Pine Tree Trail loop) is unusual for New Mexico in that it's getting closer to something like Madrean woodland, rather than what I'd consider to be really typical of the Chihuahuan desert. The pure Chihuahuan desert flora in the US is best represented at Big Bend. Major distinguishing components as compared to most of NM being lecheguilla, candelilla, and Jatropha dioica (don't know the common name).

Patrick Alexander

    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 10:06PM
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I agree---such definitions depend on looking at cores vs. edges. But I would call T or C and Socorro pretty good Chihuahuan Des, with Abq-Bernalillo at the thinnest edges, all increasingly "diluted" in species than LC or esp. the Big Bend---but still within the edges.

I also add such species as Psorothamnus, Baileya, Parthenium, etc. into the CD-Agave lechuguilla mix. Plus other organisms that seem to be common in Abq-Socorro, but almost non-existent or seasonal to the north.

The foothills on the western side of the Manzano / Sandia (including where I am at the lower edge of) are a watered down version of the Madrean region plants, which are getting stronger by Aguirre Spgs (also the S Gila region), prob. why Dr. Bailey at the US Forest Svc calls it all the Arizona-NM mtns. I was only trying to consider them as the mtns that edge the Chih Des region.

Neat stuff...ALOT of untapped natives worth studying and worth propogating seee/ cuttings from.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2005 at 3:15PM
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SteveNMZ8a(Z8a NM)

quercus, I invite you to continue, I can only imagine the result hard liquor would have! I agree - plants tell the climate story. The CD gets so narrow in central NM. I have always felt there is (at least visually) some kind of major vegetation change between north and south NM around San Acacia/Bernardo.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2005 at 11:02PM
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I knew I covered too much in one was more a suggestion for the reader to relax, enjoy a beer in order to make it through my long blurb!!

Having just driven from El Paso to Abq, there is a change at the Rio Salado, though where the creosote bush "stops", gravelly soil changes into sandy soil. I always see other changes as well---seems several Chih. Desert species (whitethorn, tarbush, etc) drop off north of T or C. And when one climbs to Santa Fe, plants common in central and southern NM (desert willow, desert marigold and broom dalea) drop out, too.

I think NM's climates / ecoregions are more diverse than north vs. south, and here in central NM, the change seems more abrupt to the N-E-W than S.

Plenty of gradations in temperature, soils, latitude, and where certain plant seed has moved. Not to mention going from desert shrub to desert grassland as it gets higher, wetter, and/or cooler.

There is much transition on either side of the Rio Grande, from Las Cruces, northward.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2005 at 4:27PM
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fredbuddy(8a/ SC)

ABQ sounds a lot like upstate SC. I see lots of mature Butia capitata and Trachycarpus fortuneii and a few Sable palmetto here, but most people do not grow palms.
We do have a new palm business here tht installs mature palms. This may help spread the word that palms do geat here. Many people think palms seem out of place here, but in the southern reaches of the upststate we have native stands of sable minor! Anyway, just thought I would add these thoughts.
Good luck with spreading the word that palms are neat even outside of their normal range.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2006 at 10:25AM
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abqpalms(Albuquerque, NM)

Thanks for the input, Fredbuddy!

Yeah, I think upstate SC sounds alot like Albuquerque, although we are certainly more 7b climate zone in the Heights areas here, not the 8a it looks like you are in, and I realize with palms that makes a bit of difference. I believe that Albuquerque - zone-wise - is fairly comparable to Atlanta, GA, although I don't think in the winters they get quite as cool on average overnight.

We have endured now the coldest part of our winter in Albuquerque - our average temps start to rise again after mid-January - and being in year 2 of my own personal Albuquerque/winter/palm tree experience, I can see where all sides of this "debate" are coming from. This winter here has overall been a warmer, drier one than average, but somewhat odd in that we've had some very cold stretches too.

I do have to say - and it again may be a hare bit different in upstate SC - the best palm here is the T.Fortuneii (Windmill)....I have now seen probably 40+ Windmills around Albuquerque, and of those, 20+ are anywhere between 8 and 15 or 18 feet tall. They, depending where they are, in younger stages do get somewhat burnt in the winter (dry leaves), but still look just fine, and in maturity, they don't even get burnt really if they are in a good spot.

I am sold on the Windmill for places like Albuquerque or Atlanta or upstate SC among others, that are on the real fringes for other types of palms. They look great, they get respectably tall, and lend partially that "Phoenix"-look.

I also grow here a Washington Robusta (Mexican Fan) in a west-facing, protected area of my yard. They are very popular in lower (thus warmer) places around here like El Paso, TX and Phoenix. It continues to live well, and in the spring, it shoots readily off new fronds. However, from November until March, admittedly the fronds pretty much burn off pretty readily. (I just for mine tend to cut them off and leave it "bald" in the winter).

And to that end, I can see where others are coming from. In a place like Phoenix, you'll have bright green fronds on your Robusta year-round. But in ABQ, it is more like 8 out of the 12 months only, and even then, you have to ensure it gets at least a bit of winter protection. It just depends on your taste and perspective I suppose.

Anyway, thanks again for your input and thoughts! I do really think you are right, especially the T.Fort. - those are GREAT for zones 7 and up and hopefully will gain in popularity as people see how well they are acclimated to climate zones like ours.

For a bit less hearty palms like, in my example, Wash. Robustas, I guess I can see both viewpoints, although I will continue to groom my Robusta and enjoy it for most of the year heartily!

Final antecdote - I was in Phoenix this past weekend, and while their Robustas obviously thrive heartily year-round, I saw a number of date palms (Canary Islands?) there that didn't look too much different than my Robusta does in the winter! So I guess depending where you are, there will always be folks trying to push, and I don't see that as a bad thing!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2006 at 12:12PM
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Abqplams---- Just a thought from my experience in Las Cruces: as bad as they look with the burnt fronds, if you can tolerate them, you will get a better regrowth in the Spring if you leave the dead fronds on W. Robustas in place until the first 4-5 new fronds fill out.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2006 at 10:37PM
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If anyone is interested, yesterday I found about 6 Washingtonia filiferas in 1 gallon containers for sale at Rehm's Nursery on Lomas. Good price too ($6.99).


    Bookmark   February 24, 2006 at 11:19AM
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abqpalms(Albuquerque, NM)

cactus dude -

Thanks SO MUCH for the tip! The Filiferas are so much harder to find (versus the Robustas). If anyone else is interested, there are only two Filiferas left there now...I picked up three on my lunch break today! They look good! Will keep them in their pots until end of March and then plant them.

Great catch, cactus!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2006 at 5:42PM
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I figured you'd go grab a few abqpalms! It's true, filiferas are usually the harder of the two washies to find offered at nurseries. Kind of like the difference between Phoenix dactylifera and P. canariensis. You can almost always find canariensis at Lowe's or HD, even here in ABQ, but it took me four years of searching in Tucson before I finally found a dactylifera.

I bought my W. filifera at Guzman's in Las Cruces a few years back.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 10:41AM
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abqpalms(Albuquerque, NM)

You know me well, cd! Literally, within hours of seeing your post, I was down picking the Filiferas up! You couldn't beat the price, and I thought for 1-gallon size, they were pretty big and looked great!

I wonder why Robustas and Dactyliferas are so much more common? In ABQ, I would go Filiferas every day of the week versus Robustas due to the hardiness factor.

It is amazing that you've had to scour to Las Cruces or even Tucson! You'd think - especially the Filiferas - would be a bit more even in distribution with the Robustas!

At any event, though, I am terribly excited about my three new Filiferas and thanks again heartily for the tip cd!!

What about this weather we are having?? Temps topping out at 70 or 72 degrees today and tomorrow! Incredible that it is still February. My peach tree is already sprouting plentiful blossoms, beautiful pink flowers. Now...if we could just get some rain along with these warm temps!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 11:50AM
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I live in the Alb south valley .I have ten palms from the mex,calif,date.and a rare brazilin,thay are all doing well People tell me palms don't live here I ask them have you been to the zoo how about the hilton and a dozen other places i know about.Ilike my palms and have spent alot of $$$ on them .My yard has huge boulder's palms and soon it will have grass and a pond. I want my yard to be one of those that inspires others my palm tree expierence has been all good. I have met alot of good people and can say no people like palm people.So to palm believers keep planting, keep planting.Non-belivers I guess we have done the impossible or maybe the impossible is really possible ??? just keep yor eye's open cause the truth is out there.Sounds like UFO's eehh.I just want to say the expierence is worth it this hobie I like looking at palms ,planting palms,buying palms and helping others get palms. Later!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2006 at 4:55AM
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abqpalms(Albuquerque, NM)

Hey Cactus Dude -

Are you out there? This message is specifically for you, although anyone in and around ABQ that would be interested as well, by all means check these out!

More palm tree sightings -

At TVI, on the Main Campus (around Coal and Buena Vista), at Building N (North), along a long side of the building, there are eight - 8! - T. Fortunei palms planted in a row as part of the landscaping...probably about 12-gallon sized right now (maybe slightly bigger...I am bad with estimates - I would say maybe 5-feet tall?).

At any event, if you are in that area ever, check it out! Just another great usage of palms for landscaping in Albuquerque, where they look great. With eight in a row, they sure stand out when walking through that part of the TVI campus.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 5:24PM
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Hey thanks for the tip abqpalms. I had no idea there were palms on the T-VI campus. I work across the street from T-VI, so I'll be going over to take a look at lunch. By the way, how are your palms doing? I've started leaving my potted Chamaerops humilis and Trachy. fortunei outdoors overnight, and they seem to be just fine.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2006 at 10:30AM
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abqpalms(Albuquerque, NM)

No problem CD!

I actually work for TVI, but at a different campus than the Main, so I am not at that Main Campus all too often. However, I was there yesterday for a meeting, and when I walked out of the building into the courtyard area, I was pleasantly surprised to see such liberal utilization of palms for a small piece of landscaping!

To find the building, here are some admittedly very rough, rough general directions. If you are heading east on Coal, youd have the Jeannette Stromberg building on your right south side. JS has an elevated walkway that takes folks from the JS building, over coal, to the other side of Coal the north side of Coal where there are several other TVI buildings. Such buildings over there are the A building, the M building, the N building, etc. The building you want is the N Building (North Building), and the eight mid-sized palms are planted in a long row on a long outside wall of the N Building. It is a wall that is somewhat to a corner on one side of it a connecting corner between the N and the M Buildings. You find that N Building, and it will be very easy to find.

I think youve got the right plan with leaving your palms outdoors now. Great to hear they are doing well!

As for how mine are doing, I have got a total of four who are approximately 2 or 3 years old, have been in the ground at my house for a little over a year each a very small T. Fortunei (north-west facing exposure, no wall protection in front yard), one mid-sized T. Fortunei (north-west facing exposure, no wall protection in front yard), another mid-sized T. Fortunei (west-facing exposure, wood fence on east side for some protection in back yard) and one mid-sized Washingtonia Robusta (west-facing exposure, wood fence on east side for some protection in back yard).

They are all doing great!

The one doing the best (somewhat surprising to me) for early spring is one of my mid-sized T.Fortuneis (the one with north-west exposure and no wall), which already has sprouted two new large, mature bright green fronds, with 2 more coming up and is getting taller. Really, the next-best right now is (again, possibly even more surprising this early in the year) is my Washington Robusta, whose trunk is slowly thickening, getting taller, and has shot up already a large, mature bright green frond Robustas, while far quicker to burn off fronds in late autumn and much more sensitive to cold - once they get growing in the spring, they sure are quick growers!

The two lagging a bit behind are the other two T. Fortuneis. One, still be very, very small, I believe it doing well, but I think due to its small size, will take it later into March, early April, before it really starts hammering out new fronds. The other T. Fortunei (my mid-sized one that is more protected) is growing new fronds, but much more slowly. I almost thing it has too many dead fronds on it, (it really produced tons last year because it grew so well) and that is slowing the reproduction of the new ones now. I think I will thus cut off a number of the dead ones soon, however, I have read that keeping the dead ones on until the last freeze is a good idea for additional protection for the new production.

Sorry for the bookas you can tell, I am rather a geek for these trees, especially at this time of year! But all four trees are growing and doing quite well, and I have three more Washingtonia Filiferas to plant (that you kindly directed me to) once we get to the end of March that are still in their pots.

Sorry for the length of thisI tend to ramble on with talk of my palms, and it is really exciting at this time of the year when you see a tree like a Mexican Fan shooting up new green fronds. I also have a mid-sized large peach tree that got into full blossom/bloom, and I think I successfully protected it through the unusually cold weekend to where most of the blooms didnt freeze offlooking for many peaches in summer!

Let me know how you liked the TVI palms!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2006 at 12:27PM
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Those palm trees at T-VI look great- very healthy. I wonder when they were planted? They've come through the winter extremely well. It's always cool to find palms in ABQ, especially so many in one place. Thanks again for the heads up.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2006 at 10:24AM
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abqpalms(Albuquerque, NM)

Greetings Cactus Dude or anyone else interested -

I guess palm trees are much more common in areas in Albuquerque than I had originally realized when we first discussed palms in ABQ months and months ago.

I just found three (3) more mid-sized T. Fortunei palms, if anyone would be interested. They are in front of the Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen restaurant...located right off of I-25 at approximately I-25 and Jefferson, near Clear Channel. Probably about 8 or 9 feet tall, all have very minimal winter damage. Have never eaten at Pappadeaux, however, the palms caught my eye all the way from the freeway!

I am up to approximately 125 palms sighted growing across Albuquerque (generally T. Fortunei, Mexican Fans, and California Fans) I guess it isn't quite as rare here as I originally had thought...

    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 1:16PM
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Sounds like some great investigations that are bound to raise up the horticultural bar here in Abq. That's quite a few hardy palm sightings...

I was the landscape artchitect on a few TVI projects, though the contractor on TVI Westside failed to order the large Trachycarpus that I specified for an interior coutryard. But I can't complain about the substitute I made using seed-grown Yucca rostrata---their blueish foliage combines well with the wall materials and yellow umbrellas.

I also taught a Plant Selection class for 3 semesters at TVI (main campus), though I am "on sabbatical". (it took up too much time from my business, and too few teachable students)

We all need to keep making lists, taking photos of proven and experimental plantings, etc., and spreading this information. Combined with the passing of a certain nursery, it won't be long until the water-guzzling boredom of Tanoan-style landscapes are viewed as very, very dated. It is already happening.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2006 at 9:07AM
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Hey abqpalms-

I'm moving to Tucson and I need to sell my 15 gallon Mediterranean Fan Palm. Are you interested? If so, please email me at


    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 7:23PM
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cd ---- I'll be in Alb. on Sunday. I'd love to get your 15 gal. C. humilis.I'll send email to get in touch. Thanks. dl.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 8:24PM
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Hey I am trying to Get a Palm trees by next spring Does any one know of a nursery or a good websight I don't care of the price range for the tree But if any one could tell me that would be great

    Bookmark   September 16, 2007 at 4:44PM
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palmtreesrus--- If your in ALBQ. try Lowes,osuna nursery,dugans nursery or jericho nursery.All carry either mexican fans,california fans,windmills or european fan palms.Osuna has some big european fan palms for sale.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 12:36AM
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Thanks I will and I am in ABQ. I really want to have Palm trees, But at these locations. How old and how big are they? I'm kinda looking for older ones that are pretty big. But I will look there deffenitly.


    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 2:18PM
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