Plant Guide

Dioon edule

Pronunciation: dy-OH-awn ED-yew-lee
Family: Zamiaceae (coontie Family)
Common Name: virgin palm, Mexican cycad, Palma de la Virgen, chestnut
Plant Type:
  • trees, shrubs

Height to: 11'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • 20 to 10ºF ZONE 8
  • 30 to 20ºF ZONE 9
  • 40 to 30ºF ZONE 10
  • 50 to 40ºF ZONE 11

Bloom Description: Virgin's palm has 15-20 leaves that are featherlike (pinnate), about 6 ft (1.8 m) long, and extend radially out from the trunk. The 120-160 leaflets on each leaf are small, linear, leathery and taper to a sharp point. The edible seeds produced in female cones take more than a year to mature.
Sun Exposure:
  • part sun

Soil Type: prefers well drained, gritty soil with plenty of water, especially in dry weather.
Plant Perks:
  • Drought Tolerant
  • Container Gardening

Propagation: Virgin's palm may be propagated by seeds or by division and replanting of the attractive offsets or "pups" formed at the base of the plant
Native to: tropical deciduous oak forests, and in harsh, dry conditions in Mexico, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Source: Floridata

Care: The long lived and slow growing virgin's palm will grow in soils with few nutrients, in limestone or serpentine soils, in sandy soil, and on extremely steep slopes. Naturally undemanding for nutrients, virgin's palm responds very well to regular applications of fertilizer. Growth can be greatly improved through the application of fertilizers. Most growers find that a fertilizer having an even NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) balance, and supplemental trace elements, provides a good start for cycads. 

Virgin's palm can be used in many ways in a landscape. Try the Asian style, with large paired plants in containers or feature beds that flank driveways, doorways or gates. A single large specimen makes an excellent feature plant in a landscape that emulates a tropical or desert setting. Use dioon to substitute for a true palm where a large crown is desired, but without a tall trunk. A virgin's palm can be a spectacular accent in a small garden where space is limited. Virgin's palm also makes an impressive understory to a larger tree or structure that allows at least partial sunlight to filter through. Virgin's palm is a perfect addition to accent a xeric landscape.

The leaflets of virgin's palm taper to a sharp point. It is well advised to plant virgin's palm away from footpaths and walkways. Wear heavy gloves when handling or working close to the virgin's palm to avoid getting jabbed by the sharp points of the leaflets.


Submitted by: Deano2u2
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